May 17, 2012: This post has been updated for clarity purposes.
We feel strongly about correspondence between you and your child, and we know you do too. It’s the only way to truly speak into your sponsored child’s life and for you to get to know them and influence their development.
We are committed to creating the best correspondence experience for the greatest number of sponsors and children and want to do so with programs administered wisely, efficiently and effectively.
With this in mind, the U.S. is implementing several changes to our correspondence process in the next year.
1. You will now receive a letter from the church pastor, center director, country director or other qualified staff member once a year.
The letter will be written by someone who knows our program in your child’s country and will provide a perspective you most likely won’t get from your sponsored child’s letters.
2. Every child will be required to write at least two letters per year, regardless of receiving any letters themselves.
3. All countries will move to a reciprocal letter process.
This means that every child will write a response letter to the letters he or she receive once every 60 days.
For example, if you write a letter once a week for two months, your sponsored child will receive approximately eight letters during a 60-day period and will respond to all the letters received during that time with one letter.
Please keep in mind that as our country offices move to this new process more letters will be processed overall, which will place additional demands on staff time and resources.
4. We will only require children to write every 60 days.
Children may voluntarily write additional letters above the two they are required to initiate and the ones they are required to write in response to your letters.
5. Children ages 3 to 8 will use structured templates for writing.
In the countries we work in, many children at this age aren’t able to write their own letters yet. Some do not start school until a later age or may even have to skip attending school altogether due to family circumstances.
Despite these obstacles, we know that you still want to hear from them, and we’ve developed these templates to provide you with information you have told us you want.
Each template will represent one of six topical themes: family, favorites, center information, dreams, house, and Christian learning.
They will include a basic question and answer section, a list of prayer requests, a fill-in-the-blank section, a checkbox section, a writing section (up to four lines of text), and a space for a drawing.
These changes are scheduled to be implemented by July 1, 2012, with some countries implementing them sooner.
As always, you are welcome to write as many times as you would like to your sponsored child.
We’re still working through what these changes will look like once implemented. However, we do realize that the correspondence process is not perfect and these changes will not make it perfect.
Our goal is to make the correspondence process better for you and the children in our program, and these steps are a move in the right direction. We hope that you will benefit greatly from them.
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I am writing my sponsored children electronically. For their birthday, however, I would prefer sending them a birthday card with a window color picture that they can put on their window. Is that possible? Where would I send the real (paper) birthday card? Thank you 😉
Thank you so much for not only choosing to sponsor a child, but for blessing them with letters and cards for their special birthday! Can you please send us an email to [email protected] and we can explain in detail how to send your child something of this nature? Thank you so much! -Shannon
I really enjoy getting letters from Compassion staff in my girl’s country, the letters are truly eye-opening. Great work!
I just wrote my first letter today. I am crazy excited. My sponsored child is 4 years old – therefore, I imagine not many questions she can answer. Will I get anything personal from her, like a picture she would color or draw? Can she receive a coloring book or any children books for a 4 year old? Just trying to understand how this communication process works – given she is 4 years old.
Hi Brenetta! I’m so glad to hear you are excited to begin this sponsorship! Starting with a little child can be so much fun because you get to watch the kiddo grow up and mature through all the stages of childhood! Yes, your sweet girl should send you a drawing she did with each letter. We actually give the kids space to draw on the letter templates they use for exactly this purpose. You are welcome to send a few coloring sheets to her at a time. Along with a personal letter, you can send: stickers, bookmarks and musical greeting cards. These items will be physically delivered to your child.
You can also send: letters, photos, postcards, greeting cards, coloring pages and paper crafts. However, your child will not receive the original items. The items will be scanned and sent electronically.
The total number of items (including stationery and the letter to your child) should not be more than six sheets, and each flat paper gift item should not be larger than 8.5” x 11”. Items sent without a personal letter will not be delivered to your sponsored child. Regrettably, we are not able to send physical books to the children due to customs rules and the high risk of theft while items are being shipped to the countries we work in. Let me know if you have any more questions!
I have sponsored a child for over a year and have never gotten a letter from her. Is there anything I can do? It would be nice to even get a picture that she colored . I would just like to hear from her if I can. I read the letters to our church family who also support her.
Hi Mary! I am so sorry that you have not received any of the letters that Rocio has written to you. I do however see that there was a letter written in September 2016, another in January, and there is one in translation now. It looks like we have been mailing these to the Parkside Drive address. Is this correct? If not, please email us your new address at [email protected]. I have also emailed you a copy of these letters to the email on file. Please let me know if you have any further questions! -Shannon
Thank you so much for posting this I have been trying to find out about this. It sounds like a good idea to me, some of my kids only write two or three times a year.
God Bless you 🙂
Thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate the fact that you take our concerns into consideration and make changes appropriately. May God continue to bless this amazing ministry, all of it’s workers worldwide and the children and families that are being impacted…..to His Glory! 🙂
On ourcompassion someone mentioned that, when they visited centers in the other countries, the staff was not aware that the children were able to write more if they wanted. Could this please be emphasized to the countries? If a child would like to write more, it would be really great to allow them to do that.
Karen- There are online writing tools on the UK and USA compassion websites with a choice of letter templates and the option to upload a few photo’s too. ( I think other countries Compassion Websites probably have the facility too.)
If you are from the USA, you can access the tool by logging in to your account on compassion.com. Click “Write my Child” on the left side of your account.
This blog post explains about the new templates for USA sponsors:
Or you could type a letter on your computer and print it out on coloured paper for your child yourself. You dont have to use the official paper. Just remember to put your name and Sponsor number and your child’s name and sponsor number on the letter. 🙂
I’m somewhat handicapped, which makes writing handwritten letters extremely difficult. However, I can type. Isn’t there an online availability to write letters to my sponsored child?
I know many people are discouraged by the letter writing, but what is really important to remember is that it is not about us–it is about the children Compassion serves. We should continue to write them whenever we can, even if we don’t get a quick response or if the responses are not to our liking. God is working in our Compassion children’s lives and that is more important than anything. Don’t let your frustrations get in the way of God’s work.
I have no expectations of ever receiving a letter from my sponsored child or their project leader. They are nice to get, but that’s not why I’m giving. I’m giving because it’s the right thing to do.
What a great attitude to have, Bill! God Bless!
I think that when deciding on our “expectations” of who should write the letters, how often and how fast we should get them we should all remember that these children are living in POVERTY and that they are not just our penpals. My nephew is 5 and has been in school for 2 years and can already write simple sentences but I know that some of the Compassion kids are 6 or 7 and have not even started school yet so may be UNABLE to write any sort of letter themselves. From what I have learned about my childrens’ projects some of the helpers are volunteers so this must be taken into account. As far as how long it takes, if the areas these children lived in had beatifully paved roads allowing rapid transport, an efficient postal system or WI-FI internet access with high-quality photo printers I would think that they would not even qualify to receive Compassion services anymore. We sponsor children who are the poorest of the poor and therefore live in areas with horrid infrastructure and little technology where it does take longer to travel. I for one think that is why receiving a letter from someone who lives so far away (and loves them enough to write to them) means so much to them. Please have patience and realize these are third world countries and things tend to move a bit more slowly there and the Compassion staff does a wonderful job with what they have to overcome.
Thank you for that!
Thanks for having such a great perspective, Victoria! You are so right–these children are not just our penpals. We have to be understanding of their very difficult circumstances. God Bless!
I just read this for the first time, and am SO disappointed that the younger kids will be using templates… I have recieved great letters from my younger kids when they (or a family member) are writing whatever they want, and not so much when a template is used. Maybe Compassion could consider using templates for only some of the letters, and letting the kids have a few letters that are more free-style?
I sent my child a letter in october, a financial gift in october and then again in november. Both were on top of the regular giving. I have not gotten a letter from my child for over 4 months.
Hi Sara! This topic on our support network will answer your question: https://support.compassion.com/compassion/topics/i_havent_heard_from_my_sponsored_child_for_a_long_time
We allow a 6 month grace period between child letters.
You allow a six month grace period between child letters? If they’re supposed to be writing every 60 days, shouldn’t something have reached me by now? It’s been 6 months for Arthur and 4 to 5 months for Gadiel. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had a problem with receiving acknowledgement from Arthur…I know it’s not his fault, but c’mon! It was bad enough when I was barely hearing from Arthur but now I’m barely hearing from my moppet who used to write all the time!!!!
In 9 years of sponsoring multiple children, I have received exactly one pastor letter. I really appreciated it.
A letter, even once a year, from a project staff member would be welcome, too, telling a little about the child–not violating confidential matters, but how the child behaves, at the center; how the child interacts with staff and other children; how the child gets along with parents (that one could be a problem, in an abusive situation, and could be optional)…things the child is not likely to write about. Also, how the child is doing in school. I ask my sponsored children, and I get, ‘Fine.” Fine. Thanks, kid!
Vicki, have you checked the pastor letters for your kids on http://www.ourcompassion.org There are about 80% (my guess) of the projects with pastor letters on them. If you have mutliple kids, you sure should have seen more than one.
I agree that it’s nice to be able to send pictures and so forth. However, I wonder if there could be a text-only option that they actually could print at the field office, for times when the time-frame is more important than appearance. Next year I can send things on time, but it wasn’t possible this time, since I wasn’t a sponsor at the time it needed to be sent.
What I would really like to see is a way to get my letters there more quickly. It would be great for my online letters to be printed at the field office so that my child could get it sooner. Since I am a new sponsor, I was not able to send a birthday card or gift very far in advance. I thought I would be able to email her to tell her that her gift is on the way, but then I found out that my letters are printed and then mailed. I don’t want her to feel forgotten.:(
We were told when this first started, that the letters are now printed on a very high quality paper, and in color. Not all the field offices would have that ability.
I feel this is unfair. If I write dhild, I should expect that he get it. How do I ever know if he gets them since it takes so long .? And now you are telling me he may not write me,but someone in the field may. How do I even know he is getting all the money I am giving and the gits twice a year. ? This is very discouraging to me. AND I feel I should be able to write more. I was limited to the number of spaces and had to quit.
Hi Tina, I don’t work for Compassion, but I’m going to try to explain some things you mentioned that haven’t been my experience nor what CI states are part of the program.
First and foremost, you can write to your child as often as you want. CI encourages all sponsors to write on the 2nd Friday of every month. If you wish to write more often, they gladly will accept your letters. The online forms are limited to a certain character count, but you are welcome to use your own stationary and write more. In the field, for translation purposes and as all children prefer to receive mail often, it is encouraged that you write shorter letters more frequently than longer letters less frequently.
You are totally correct that you should expect the child receive the letter. Every letter is cataloged in Colorado Springs, CO and then mailed off with other letters to the child’s country and then distributed to the child’s project. Some projects are remote (i.e., several hours hike to the nearest tiny town), and they take longer to get letters. It used to take about 3 months for my letters to get from northeastern Brazil to me and my last letter from my kids took under a month. If you have questions about your letters being received, simply email or call CI and they can look up to confirm where your letters are in the process.
It has always been CI’s policy that your child will write when he or she is old enough to write and before then a project staff member or one of the child’s relatives will write to you. As you write to your child, you will be receive the minimum 2 letters from your child plus other letters throughout the year as mentioned above. In addition, you will receive the update from someone at the project once a year. The only sponsors who will receive 2 letters from their child each year are those who only write twice a year or less. If you write 3 times spaced throughout the year then you will receive three letters in reply.
Your child should be acknowledging the extra gifts send (such as Christmas presents) in the letters you receive. If your child has not, then you can write you child and ask them what they received, but you also can contact CI and have them check into it if it has been more than 6-8 months (standard time to send money and expect to hear back from the child about receiving it as money is transferred to the country offices once a month to save on transfer fees). I checked on a family gift I sent once as the child only mentioned the items he received in the letter and the gift was larger than the maximum child gift. CI did a field memo and let me know exactly what the rest of the family gift was spent on.
I strongly recommend you call CI 800-336-7676 or click the contact us link on their main website and submit a question (include your sponsor number for them to look-up your account or use their livechat to have one of their representatives look up your account information to ensure your gift money has been received, how it was spent and provide further information to address your concerns. They are quite happy to help 🙂
I am sorry that you are discouraged 🙁 This is very exicting for most of us, and I pray that what I say may encourage you. I guarentee that your kid gets your letters. I have written my little girl from Indonesia and she has relpied to my letter. But, to make sure of this you can call Compassion at 800-336-7676 They can pull up your account and tell you what has reached your child. As for the money, I have not done this yet (I do not have that much extra :)). But, I have read Michelle’s blog and Hannah’s blog, and many others as well. They have all posted on letters they’ve recieved from their kids. Some of the letters have been thank you’s for the money gift. They will tell you what they bought. You can also call Compassion and ask them if the child has recieved your gift yet. I know that the letter writing space online is limited. I also find it hard to include all my thoughts in the small space. But, it is still important that you write your child. I cannot stress this enough. They need to know you love them to death. And that they are special, there is no one like them. And that they are important. They are needed, and most of the kids in third world countries do not know this simple truth. They are told that they are ugly ( https://blog.compassion.com/michelle-tolentino/ ). Often their parents leave them, or abandon them ( https://blog.compassion.com/hiv-in-children-the-last-days-of-an-hiv-positive-child/ ). Sometimes kids even leave the program if they are not written to. http://www.bloggingfromtheboonies.com/2011/06/yes-letters-really-are-that-important.html I really like this post from Michelle. It is soo encouraging. I know that there is not much space to write online, that gives you all the more reason to write more often! Please don’t stop writing your precious kids, they need your love and encouragement. You are their hero. I pray that you will be encouraged by the links I provided, and that you will never stop loving on your special ones!
May God bless you and your sponsored child,
I am a new sponsor. Thank you so much in making the letter wrriting process so convenient. I appreciate your work tremendously. God’s blessing to all.
Wow! so so excited for this to happen! I love receiving letters!!! I write several times a month, and getting more responses would be soooo fantastic!! Thank you compassion!!!
Am I allowed to write to my child in his native language? I am a fluent Spanish speaker and would love the opportunity to be able to write to him this way. I just wanted to make sure it was allowed.
Yes, you can write your kid in Spanish, but it will not get there any sooner. This link provides more info https://support.compassion.com/compassion/topics/can_i_write_to_my_child_in_their_own_language?from_gsfn=true
I think these changes are a great idea. I love writing to my kids, but sometimes seem to wait a long time for a reply. One of my children sends photographs of her and her family quite regularly, especially after receiving a family gift. It’s such a joy to receive these pictures. However, this doesn’t happen with the other 3 children. Would it be possible to get more family photos?
[quote comment=”33966″]It does make my heart heave to read about the large percentage of children who never receive a letter. I know how those letters are perceived as love and, conversely, receiving no letters results in most children feeling unloved.[/quote]
It’s heartbreaking isn’t it? 🙁
Just made my first letter to my sponsored child using the online letter writing tool. Its easy and fun to do too. Hope the letter does arrive to the child faster. be counting the days til her response. thank you Compassion International for this great service.
Kim- I can highly recommend joining Our Compassion; http://www.ourcompassion.org where there are lots of sponsors who sponsor in Uganda and some have visited their sponsored children and are happy to share their experiences. Sometimes we need to know how other sponsors are feeling and that we are not alone in what we are going through and then that can make things more real. I know I felt quite isolated as a sponsor until I joined that community but since then its been a lifeline. 🙂
I have been sponsoring a child since the year 2000 and sometimes find it difficult to hear the voice of the child ringing through the letters I receive. Which are always gracious. I know others are translating the letters, but I should still sense the growth and personality of the child. I know that my child is about 15 yrs old. Will the child still be coloring on the pictures? It’s fine with me. I’m just curious. Also can I hear from someone who has been to Uganda and visited their child? At this stage I need for this to become more real for me. Thanks!
Ecrire à un parrain est très capital, mais est ce que cette manière d’écrire est la bonne. Les enfants ecrivent des lettres à longueur de l’année sans concordance, ce qui amene les confusions entre les parrains et leurs filleul, l’enfant envoie une lettre que le parrain n’a pas encore reçu et on lui demande d’écrire une deuxième ou une troisième lettre. Quel genre de communication existe – t- il entre ces deux personnes.
Do most children like writing their sponsors? I personally love the idea of hearing more from my sponsored child, but would hate for her to have to write more letters if she would prefer not to. Will children be required to write up to six times even if they would rather not?
I sponsor three girls, and I am so blessed that they write regularly – sometimes as often as twice a month!! Will this new correspondence model mean that they will not write as often? Regardless, I will continue to write once or twice a month as usual, but I hope that they will be allowed to continue to write me as often as they are doing!
To those folks who write infrequently – please, please consider writing more often. The bond that you can create through these letters, and just the chance to see the world through a child’s eyes, is incredible. You can really see God at work!
So, will the 3-8 year olds use the templates for every letter that they write, or just for the two a year? For example, I now have an 8 year old boy from whom I receive 1-2 letters every month. If all of his letters are to be written on the new templates, he would go through the 5 templates 2-3 times each year. So would I get 2 template letters and the remainder on plain stationary, or would all 15 letters be on the templates?
Also, are there plans for adding more templates eventually so that the children have more options about what to write?
i love this!..I love the new on line options! I love writing my cchildren…thank you for all you do!
I love all parts of this; the decrease for the kids that don’t get letters, the increase for those just writing a few times a year, and especially the ‘form’ letters for the little ones.
This is a good idea…but for me in the past all the letters I have received from the 3 children I have sponsored have been very good. I think this is due to the great case workers in the Philippines. I also receive about 2 letters every 2 months…so I have been very happy with the old system…but this looks like it will help make things more consistent for all countries and projects….
I love that “My Account” page now includes terms in my child’s native language and I hope there will be more added soon!
Thank you for coming up with new ideas to improve correspondence with our kids!
I like the ideas. It is my hope that going reciprocal will cause questions to be answered. My 12 yr-old girl in Colombia writes awesome letters. I think a template for the older kids should be used sparingly.
LOVE these changes (especially the first two)!!! I am so excited to hear from my girl more often 🙂
Love the changes! We try to write at least once month, so reciprocal in all countries will be exciting. Love the changes to the letter writing options on the website as well. Thanks for all of your work to make the letter writing process better.
The reciprocal letter writing concept is great; thanks! Though I hope it doesn’t overwhelm the local staff or too greatly increase the costs of Compassion. I write to each of my kids once a month and I know that it will draw me closer to them.
As for the template idea, perhaps it’s appropriate for the younger ones, but it doesn’t appeal to me for the older kids. One of my kids (age 9) follows a kind of template approach of her own — simply answering my questions in the very briefest of responses (“yes”, “no”, “I have one brother”) without elaboration. I am a fairly new sponsor for her, and at least she is responding; bless her heart for laboring over each letter as she prints it on the paper and draws me a picture. But, in contrast, what a wonderful joy it is to have your child pour out on paper what is in their heart and to ask for prayers for something that is important to them. And that’s not something that can fit into a template.
People not writing makes me cry. Not just for the children, but for the lack of relationship in sponsor’s lives. Thanks for making it super easy to write. Nice work!
We definitely have problems and I am very discouraged. The letters are very impersonal and over several years I receive little impression of the real child, I believe I must have made her life better, but questions are never answered, gifts are not acknowledged, I know nothing about her home life.I wonder if her family received the family money gift I sent, and what it was used for. It sounds as though her letters were composed by the staff person.
Rosemary, I can understand being frustrated by gifts not being acknowledged and the letters seeming impersonal. Some kids are better letter writers than others and some project staff are better at getting their kids to write letters with lots of details. In regards to your gift giving not being mentioned, I have several suggestions. First, I would check the letters to see that you can’t find any numbers in the letter that were not translated (ie, the translator didn’t fully translate the letter). Then if it has been more than 6 months since you sending the gift, I would contact CI and tell them that you haven’t gotten an acknowledgement in a recent letter (or for any gift-as all kids receive Christmas gifts, I find it very odd those are never mentioned). If you see numbers in the letter but it wasn’t translated, then CI wants to know if the translators are doing a poor job of translating them. CI will do a field inquiry if something seems amiss. For instance, I was concerned that a child spent a family gift, which was above the child gift dollar amount, on himself as he only mentioned what was purchased for him. It also seemed that the amount of money sent should have covered much more than what he listed. CI suggested my child may have only told me what he got as he was happiest about it and didn’t think to mention the other items. They then did a field inquiry and let me know what else was purchased, which confirmed to me that the money was not all spent on my child, which would have been against CI’s rules.
In regards to the questions, I defer to the response below and others above about separating the questions, numbering them, highlighting them and limiting them to 1-2 per letter. I’ve used that with better success than when I didn’t do that any my questions were rarely answered.
It is possible that your child is disabled and not able to write letters. How sad for you that you are not able to see the impact you are having and the difference your gifts make. I think all sponsors who send birthday and family gifts should receive an acknowledgement and what was purchased. Some centers send photos of the child with the purchases which is wonderful and encourages more giving. I think this is something Compassion should look into while they are upgrading the correspondence system.
Rosemary, as a sponsor who has been to visit many of the children we sponsor I know one thing for sure… Compassion has gotten the money you’ve sent to your sponsored child. As I said before, I have found that letter writing is a cultural thing. The children we sponsor in the Dominican Republic are not good letter writers and rarely answer question. Children from Peru & Indonesia are great letter writers (even at a young age). After seeing how Compassion works with such a high level of integrity (and frequent audits) I trust Compassion completely with the funds God has given me to manage (Matthew 25:14-30). When visiting a project in person I pointed to a child and asked to see where the money is spent for that child. The director of the project walked me into his office and pulled out the child’s file. Inside was a hand written ledger of what money was sent for that child and how it was spent. For example, the child had received money for his birthday. With that money he had purchased a pair of jeans, some underwear, a shirt and a baseball hat.
Have the field offices been empowered to cope with the increase workload of reciprocal letter writing? I heard that IO stopped doing that because it become too overwhelming to keep up with the increase workload?
So they will only send a letter once every 6 months? Will they still receive the letter right when it gets there? Or can they write as frequently as they want and revieve letters whenever they arrive?
Hi Emily — If their sponsor does not write to them, the child will only be required to write two letters a year instead of three. So sponsors who DON’T write will get one letter every six months.
For sponsors who DO write, their kids will respond every time they get mail.
Now if the child gets 4 letters at once, (which can happen because the centers only get mail about once a month), they don’t have to write 4 letters in return. They just send one response. If you write your child consistently, they are required to respond a minimum of once every 60 days — so you would get 6 response letters a year, minimum. But they can write more if they want.
Wonder when that’s actually supposed to start because I haven’t heard from either of my kids…one for six months and one for at least four months, possibly five (forgot to enter the date I received it at the top).
Just wondering Marci, do you wait to receive a child letter before writing another to them? I know the turnaround time to get there and then back can be quite a while and I wonder if when switching to this system the child is now only writing when they receive something. Personally, I have been writing a letter to my child 1-2 times monthly online plus writing a paper letter when I receive their letter. I have only started sponsoring since february but have already received corrospondence. I cannot tell for sure if this is only because the relationship is new or not, but it is something to consider. If your letters are flowing in on a regular schedule, it may trigger a steady stream of responses. I know it can be difficult to write when you don’t get a reply, but I have been talking about the things that happen in my life in the online letters and commenting on the corrrospondence/asking my child questions in the paper letters. I will let you know how it works for me (I now have 7 kids in 7 countries so it shouldn’t be a country bias, though Ghana seems especially rapid) and you can keep us updated on your situation too.
Hello, Vicky! Um…no…I do not wait to receive a letter before I send one. The way things are going, if we did that, we’d each get one or two letters a year! The turn around time for Bolivia has been (up until recently) about two months. For Brazil it was usually four months. (Now it seems to be four months for Bolivia and six months for Brazil.)
I send emails, letters, and packages full of stickers and fun things like hologram bookmarks and scented bookmarks and glow in the dark stars and coloring books and musical cards on a regular schedule to both children. Since I’ve been busy with my studies, my sister steps in and sends packages, also, in my name. I don’t have any problems coming up with things to write to the boys…haven’t run out of things to say yet! 🙂
Here…so you can get an idea on how regular my correspondence is:
In 28 months, this is what has been sent to my boy in Brazil:
* 30 emails
* 12 packages (plus all the packages ‘chelle mailed to fill in when I was swamped w/school – I don’t know when/how many!)
In 15 months, this is what has been sent to my boy in Bolivia:
* 11 emails
* 5 packages (plus all the packages ‘chelle mailed to fill in when I was swamped w/school – I don’t know when/how many!)
I think I’m pretty regular and doing okay? I think it’s fantastic that you have kids in 7 countries and I can’t wait to see how things go for you! After seeing a program on child slavery in Ghana I planned on sponsoring my next child there. Keep me updated!
There was more posted on this issue in the Our Compassion forum last night and hopefully will answer more of our questions. It seems (and more may be told) that to reduce administration costs, the mailings from our kids will be reduced to six times yearly. This does NOT mean (according to the official policy in the training one of the members attended) that they can only write 6 letters, but instead of being sent weekly, etc as soon as the kids write them, they will be collected and all letters from the previous 60 days (when the new policy is enacted in July) or for perhaps a longer period now, will be bundled together and send as one package so a sponsor may go quite a while between letters, then may receive 3-4 in a bundle. I know for many this is ideal, but since responsible stewardship is on everyone’s mind, and the price of a single international stamp apparently gone up to $1.05 with other postage likely to follow, this may be necessary unfortunately.
Ok, I was thinking it was something it totally wasn’t! Thanks!
I also have mixed feelings about the template. I’ve seen some kids where it would help… but my Mom’s kids from Tanzania write the most beautiful letters (through the project worker of course) and I would hate to take any of that away.
Could you maybe make it optional? Or possibly have different templates so more forthcoming children are given one with a bigger “free” area?
My guess is that when people see and experience the templates for the little ones they’re going to like them. I saw them somewhere, (was it on OurCompassion?) — they are really neat, and I believe they will enrich the information sharing rather than inhibit it. It will be interesting to hear the feedback from sponsors after these have been used for a year or so.
I received one. It was awful. I had been sponsoring my child for a year and the template I got informed me that he was a boy and had a little brother and a mom. He didn’t fill out any of the check boxes. Very disappointing. However, it was the last thing I received from him and that was around five months ago….so I guess it’s better than nothing. No….actually it isn’t.
Marci, that’s so frustrating! The templates I saw were a series of about 10-12 letters for the younger kids to use. They covered a wide variety of topics and each one was focused on a different topic. For example, one letter was about “My Family.” Another was “My School.” Another was “My Community.” And so on. (I WISH I could find the link to where I saw them, but I can’t for the life of me find it.) They were very colorful, had very good and detailed information to share. They provided some excellent guidance for the little ones. And there was also a spot where they could write an individualized message to their sponsor. I absolutely loved them and have since received one from my child in Ecuador. Now if the template had shown up not filled out — that’s a whole other story — and that’s a problem! I wouldn’t be thrilled about that, either.
In regard to the decline in the number of letters some people have received — I haven’t noticed a difference with my children in Ecuador or Ethiopia. My brother and mother haven’t noticed a difference with their kids in the Philippines. I wonder if it’s certain countries or certain child centers who are having problems? For example, is there a language barrier between the forms and the volunteers who help the children write their letters? (Everything on the forms is written in English.) Have some areas had a problem getting the new stationery?
I seem to see one or two countries being mentioned over and over in these discussions. Could it be a country-specific problem?
I hope things smooth out for you soon. Keep us posted!
I think I got the “My Family” one….but, like I said, I already knew he was a boy and that he only had a mother and little brother.
You’re right about the differences in countries….although I’ve always had very little communication from Brazil. I was so disappointed over the lack of letters that I sponsored a boy from Bolivia so I could FINALLY GET SOME MAIL from at least one child! Now he’s not writing, either…and he’s the one with the template.
Apparently the staff at Compassion is totally ignorning everything said on OurCompassion. The general thought is that we don’t like the templates. We had long letters from the young kids often written by their siblings, now there is room for about one sentence on these new sheets, and like said above, we know all this other information.
Also, everyone on OurCompassion is getting less letters. I have 18 kids, and I don’t even bother to run to the mail box anymore. Ghana seems to be the biggest problem, but others are slowing down too.
The problem is, when no one listens to the sponsors, then we just don’t take on more kids, and I have heard it said often now that ‘well when these kids are gone, I just will not replace them.’ What was special about Compassion was always the communication between sponsor and the kids. Otherwise, if we just want to sponsor, there are plenty of other organizations out there.
p.s. I haven’t noticed fewers letters from my kids in Ethiopia, Ecuador or the Philippines, and I’m on OurCompassion. So I don’t think it’s right to say that “everyone on OurCompassion is getting less letters.”
I just keep hearing the same one or two countries mentioned over and over as the problem. (Debbie, you mentioned one of them.) Again, I wonder if the problem is primarily in one or two countries?
But I’m sure Compassion is on it, as we speak. To say that Compassion is ignoring what you’re saying is, I guarantee, not the case. I’ve never known Compassion to ignore anything posted on these boards by a sponsor!
Well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m a sponsor, (I’m not staff or an employee), and I love the new templates. I would be VERY disappointed if they went back to the old blank sheets for the little kids. I feel like I’m getting so much better information with this new format.
Exactly. You said it very well…. :o)
Is there any speed advantage in writing online through the Compassion website? Does the child receive the letter any sooner? Of course, with a mailed letter it’s possible to send a photo or other flat enclosure, but the letter exchange process appears to be quite delayed.
Barbara, you can now upload photos to the letters you write online! Plus you can choose from 33 different colorful stationaries, too!
Hi Barbara! It’ll save you about two weeks time.
I also have mixed feelings about the templates, I have several kids in the 3-8 range and having the “topical” section might be nice, but some of them either write or have their tutor write what they say such cute/wonderful stuff and I’m not sure the 4 lines left for “writing” is enough!! I wouldn’t want to miss out on that!
With the change to the letter-writing process, will there be changes to the frequency of the photo updates we receive? Currently I receive a photo update once every 2 years – it would be lovely to receive a new photo on a yearly basis if possible please.
Most of the photos have been changing every 18 months now. There are still some that are closer to 24 months. We have been keeping track of it on OurCompassion, and more and more of us are seeing them at 18 months.
I agree. In two years they can change a lot!
I have some mixed feelings about the templates. We sponsor children from several countries. The letters we receive from very young sponsored children in Indonesia & Peru are great. The children ask a lot of questions that require a response. They ask about my job, exactly what I do, and about our daily lives. We have also sponsored several children in the Dominican Republic over the years. We have even been to visit them. Unfortunately, their letters are sometimes not very personal (except that they say the miss us and would like us to come visit again). The children in the DR seem to have a template for writing letters and don’t seem to put much thought into it. The younger children in other countries have (with help no doubt) written some very thoughtful letters. I think letter writing is not very important in some cultures and that’s why we see the differences.
I love the letters we receive from our 3 sponsor children. I like the notion that what our children write is prompted by their thoughts and experiences. We enjoy watching their maturity grow as it shows up in the letters they write. I have kept ever single letter ever sent by our children and the progression is a joy. We have even kept the letters from two previous children who’s families moved out of the area – we keep them all. I would really prefer a letter that’s not ‘canned material’ but rather choices made by the child. Prompts may be helpful, but not a ‘fill in the blank’ version.
Thank you for working on this letter-writing process and for the improvements that will be implemented soon. I definitely feel closer and more connected to our sponsored children who write more often and with more details. It motivates me to write them more often! Like other sponsors I’ve talked to, I am disappointed when I receive letters that basically say the same thing every time and do not answer questions I’ve asked or tell me anything new. I like the idea of the template for younger children. Receiving letters from the pastor or program director will be great! And I love the idea of reciprocal letter-writing. Even though we do not sponsor for the purpose of receiving any earthly reward, I still think that having better communication with our sponsored children will encourage more people to sponsor more children, and that is DEFINITELY worth it! Thank you for notifying us about these changes!
I love these changes – I have been a sponsor for several years, and the letters I receive are pretty much the same, the weather, the holiday and that they like to play soccer. Never any responses or dialogue to what I have written previously (or ever!) I hope this will encourage more of a dialogue and relationship, thank you!
I have found that it is sometimes difficult to write a lot of letters to the kids because the questions that I ask rarely get answered, and there is such a long time between the letter I send and the reply that I receive- so keeping up a “conversation” has been difficult. Consequently. it is difficult to know what to write… and I don’t just want to say the same things each time or only be superficial. Do you have any suggestions?
Laurel, my passion is inspiring sponsors in their ministries to their children. Please check out my blog http://www.bloggingfromtheboonies.com My Most Popular posts are listed on the right sidebar of my blog and I have several dedicated to letter writing topics and ideas!
I was having this issue as well, and then I read somewhere that it helps to number your questions and then highlight them (if you aren’t using the email function on the Compassion site). It helps the question to “pop” out of the letter and the translator and staff will focus on it more. I have had excellent results from using this method …. except for one child. She uses the templates and only answers the questions listed. Never any answers to my questions or remarks on what I write or the extra items I send. I think in her instance (she is 9 years old) it is the fault of the Compassion project.
If you are having problems with ideas on what to write you could always join Our Compassion as there are HEAPS of ideas and things to print off and send on there!!!! There is a group with all sorts of interesting links (“Cool Links”) on the site and people have posted short messages that you can copy and use for your children. And……… when all else fails: just send a card, insert some stickers, and sign it with a happy face and an “I Love You.” 🙂
I just read what you had written (I was told to get on here and read this article…but I had already read it….and I WISH I was receiving a letter from the boys every 60 days…haven’t heard from Arthur in six months and Gadiel in about 4 to 5) and it makes me want to cry to see the enthusiasm you used to have and compare it with how we both feel now.
We have sponsored a boy for 10 years now that we have been able to see grow from a boy to an 18-year-old man, but we have been very frustrated with the letter-writing system, because we ask questions and write about topics that we expect he would be excited to write back about, but the letters never seem to address anything that we’ve written to him. As a result, we wonder if our letters are reaching him at all and have been discouraged about continuing to write (we had been writing about 2-4 times a year).
One of my kids (although he’s not really a kid) doesn’t write very much, and never seems to answer questions. But my other kids are all very good about it. It discourages me a little, and it’s sometimes hard to write him compared to the others. But I do my best to remember that I don’t know what’s going on with him and that he needs love just like the others. I agree it makes it hard though.
It could be a cultural thing. For instance, letter writing isn’t really a popular pastime in South America. Because of this, letters from kids in the centers in South America may seem cold or impersonal, and may be very short. Know that even though he may not feel very comfortable writing to you (if that’s what the problem is), I’m sure he treasures your letters.
Oh, please please do continue writing! As a boy grows older, more and more weight of running the household falls on him. He may often be asked to forgo eating meals in order to provide for the females or younger siblings. So many things can put pressure and distractions into the life of these young men.
He is close to becoming the spiritual leader of his own household as an adult so he needs your support now, more than ever.
I also wanted to add, if you have only been writing 2-4 times a year, it is likely that he has forgotten some of your questions when letter writing day comes to his project.
When we write to our 10 CI kids, we only ask one or at most two questions per letter. We put them at the end of the letter where they are set apart from the body of the letter. Sometimes we don’t ask questions because we don’t want to overwhelm or set up expectations. We just share our love for them, what we’re learning in church or from our walk with God, special moments from our family and so on.
If you are absolutely discouraged from writing any longer, please ask Compassion to assign him a correspondent sponsor. (Or I would even volunteer to write to him!) There are lots of sponsors who are willing to write monthly to those whose sponsors do not desire to write!
Praying for you and your young man!
I have had the same experiences and concerns…
I’m sorry your questions aren’t getting answered. Try separating them from the body of your letter, numbering and highlighting each one. This makes your questions very obvious and should elicit a response.
I know it can be hard to continue writing to someone that doesn’t seem to write back. This happens with one of my sponsored children. Instead of asking questions, I just try to focus on encouraging him and letting him know that we are praying for him and love him very much. It’s not easy, but I hope he appreciates it.
For me personally, I would prefer that the older kids not be given a template. I used to receive wonderful detailed letters from my child in Peru. They went to a short answer format a few years ago, and since then, her letters have been very dry – and very disappointing. It’s kept me from wanting to sponsor another child in Peru! I think the older kids, for the most part, will want to write about what’s on their minds, not what the paper prompts them to talk about.
This is my exact concern with a template. I get wonderful letters, even from my younger kids, so I’m not looking forward to templates for ANY of my kids. But I know some kids don’t come forward with too much information or discussion, so they do have their advantage in some cases.
At this time, templates will only be used for children ages 3-8. We do not have plans for children older than that to use the templates- Andrea was only suggesting it.
All of these ideas are FANTASTIC!! I love the templates for the little ones. I’m really excited about that. I’m super-excited about receiving a letter from a staff member or pastor on a yearly basis. This is all just wonderful!
Thank you for sharing this with the blog readers. I hope the feedback from the various Compassion centers — from those who will implement this — is positive. Hopefully it’s rewarding for everyone. Honestly, great job Compassion!
This is so cool. So reciprocal basically means that the child will respond at least every 60 days to the letters they received during that time? I also really like how the child has a choice in how much they write. Thanks, Compassion!
Thanks for sharing the update on the upcoming changes. I am looking forward to receiving more letters from our sponsored child!
I love these changes! I have one child who must be doing this already because I’m getting loads of letters and I treasure every one. Good job!
My absolute youngest sponsor child – just 6 – has written me 18 letters and I’ve not yest sponsored him for a year! Amazing little lad.
These changes sound great to me – I have worried, in reciprocal countries, whether writing often would mean they were being forced to write a reply to every one, but knowing that they will only be *required* to write once every two months frees me up to write as and when, knowing that any extra letters they will write because they want to, and that my intention of just letting them know they are loved won’t equate to “rats, I have to write every week even though I hate writing letters” for any child. Sounds like a really great compromise to me, well done Compassion! 🙂
Wow. That is amazing. Where is he from? I correspond with two girls. I am still waiting for the first letter from my Haitian girl, and I cannot wait to get a second letter from my Indonesian angel!
He’s in Tanzania. He’s amazing! His letters get written for him, but he is evidently so chatty and interested. He wants to be a member of parliament when he grows up… I reckon he is one to watch! I write to eight children in all through Compassion, and love them all dearly, but I have to admit Jumanne holds a special place in my heart! 🙂
Ah, how sweet! I just started this whole correspondence thing in June or July, so I am still waiting to see how often my girls will write.
Whatever makes it easier for the children, I know is the best. I am sorry that some sponsored children are disappointed about how often a sponsor writes to them. I love your program and thank you so much for it. I have been so blessed through my precious child!!! God bless all of you for your wonderful and caring ministry!!!
I haven’t received a letter yet from my child’s project director, so I’ll be looking forward to this! (I did meet the pastor at the project when I was in Honduras but was sponsoring a different child at that time.)
Has there ever been an attempt of people in an area meeting for a letter writing party? Getting together with other sponsors to discuss what to write or what to send might help people get motivated to write more often. I’d love to organize one in my area.
This Friday, October 14th, is this month’s online letter writing party. Be sure to look for the “Virtual Child Sponsorship Letter Writing Night” group on the OurCompassion website. If you’re not a member yet, all you need to do is join. I just posted our idea for this month! Be sure to check it out!
We do have an online letter writing party each month. You’re welcome to join that or search for other sponsors in your area on OurCompassion (www.ourcompassion.org).
Please consider the templates for the older students. I ask a lot of questions and the templates would provide structure for him to answer easier. Please strongly consider the template use for older students. The young man I write to has a lot on his mind. The templates would surely be of ease in his letter writing.
IF a template is included as an option for older children, I suggest that different prompts be considered. They might already have provided all the information in a previous template.
Not every part of a template for younger children would need to be replaced; dreams change, for example. But one prompt might be for answering a sponsor’s previous question(s); one might be for identifying a child’s questions about faith in Christ, or the Bible (teens have these questions, I think); another might be a prompt to identify what difference God has made in the child, his/her life and family. You might (or might not) even include one in which the children could write about their fears, or what they think about when they have time to themselves…assuming they ever do. Prompts that might generate some conversation between sponsor and child would be really good, especially when we begin to sponsor an older child, whom we do not know.
I was wondering if you have received a template letter yet. I did and it was awful…your idea of prompts would have been great. Their idea of a template was to tell me that my boy that I’ve been sponsoring for two years has a brother and a mother and things like that – stuff that was included in the very first letter from him! Major disappointment. I’m actually on here because I was told to check this out again. I was upset because I have had no communication from my one boy for six months and from the other for at least four months, but probably longer (I forgot to write the date of receipt on the last letter). Anyway, I like your idea. But now I’d even be happy with another letter telling me he has a brother and a mother….ANYTHING is better than NOTHING. 🙁
I wouldn’t like the templates for the older students either. Just their regular letters are great!
That’s a great idea Andrea! I’d be happy to pass it along. Would you mind posting your idea here so we can track it: https://support.compassion.com
I also hope older children are not forced to use a template. I can see where some children could benefit, by I have some older children that would be inhibited by this.
I don’t agree with this. Maybe older children should be given the option of using a template letter. There’s only so many times of reading the template letters before they become unengaging and boring. I know that my younger children have letters written by staff and often these are very informative and interesting.
I have to admit that the idea of a template-like form letter made my heart sink. Right now, since my kids are both 7 years old, my letters are coming from the mothers and they provide plenty of information and funny facts. (Well, one can always wish for MORE information, but I’ll take what I can get!!) I received a template once as an initial letter from Arthur and it was so impersonal. All of the joy was taken out of it…it was like a mandatory homework assignment. I’d hate to have our communication reduced to that.
I agree with Marci. I have two girls that are 6 and my other children are all older than 8. But, I love my twins and their letters. I would really be disappointed if all that I got were 4 personal lines other than Q&A type information. The intro letter that was a template style did seem impersonal. My subsequent letters from them- all of them – are becoming much more personal. Although, I realize that the children are the main focus of these changes. This may or may not be a great thing, I guess time will tell.
I would hope, if you do implement a template for older children, that the older children would not be required to use it, if they did not want to. I get great letters from all of my kids, all ages, and don’t want the Q’s and A’s and discussions to stop because they have to fill in a form.
I agree with this. I have a younger child through World Vision who only uses the templates and I don’t feel like I really know her very well. Whereas, my compassion child who is 12, just writes what is on his mind and I love it! I would hate to see these personal letters done away with.
I totally agree. I have a 15-year-old girl in Peru who is forced to answer the same questions in every letter. I feel I will never gain any depth with her because there’s no space for her to tell me in any detail about anything.
Thank you for explaining these changes!
It does make my heart heave to read about the large percentage of children who never receive a letter. I know how those letters are perceived as love and, conversely, receiving no letters results in most children feeling unloved.
I do look forward to hearing more from a few of our children. We will continue to write 1-3 times per month to all ten of our sweet kids!
I am confused. Point #2 says “we will require them to write only every 60 days (about six per year).” and Point #3 says”Reducing the required number of letters your sponsored child writes from three to two.” Which is correct?
All children will be required to write at least two letters per year to their sponsors.
If a sponsor writes to their child, the child will be required to respond at least six times. Any more than that will be left at the discretion of the child/project.
Sponsor Bob sponsors Juan from bolivia but does not write any letters to Juan. Juan will write two times a year, and his pastor will write once.
Sponsor Joe sponsors Maria from bolivia and writes to her every month. Maria receives 12 letters that year, but she is only required to respond 6 times. (though she can choose to answer each one if she wants). Her pastor will also write one letter.
Point #2 is talking about kids who recieve regular letters from their sponsors and therefore will be responding to each but on a 60 day time table, and point #3 is talking about kids that do not recieve letters from their sponsors. If they do not get letters from their sponsor they will only be required to write their sponsor 2 times in the year when it had been 3 times. Hope that makes sense.
If you do not write to your sponsored child, you will only receive 3 letters- two from your child and one from someone involved with the program in their country. If you write your child you will receive letters in response- one every 60 days.
Do the new guidelines apply to correspondence sponsorships as well? I have four compassion kids- one that I sponsor and three that I am a correspondence sponsor for. My sponsor child has been writing to me a lot more frequently (usually three or four letters stapled together, dated a week apart, I assume because I write to her weekly but it would be fantastic to hear from my correspondence kids more frequently as well.
Yes, this applies to all children- whether you sponsor them financially or correspond with them.
How does one become a correspondence sponsor? Currently, I am sponsoring two children and I can not financially afford to sponsor more. Nevertheless, I would like to write one or two more children that may not be currently receiving anything. Thank you.
Yes, just give them a call. You can give specifics, like gender or location, but you may have a longer wait. Correspondence sponsorship is a wonderful thing! My life has been blessed by my three correspondence sponsor kids.
I believe you just need to call Compassion and tell them you’re interested in being a correspondence sponsor. 🙂