Great Advice from Sponsors on How to Write if You Never Have

Nervous to write that first letter?

Not sure what to say?

Haven’t written in so long that you don’t know how to start again?

April recently asked us on Instagram:

“I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve sponsored a child for over a year now and haven’t sat down to write my first letter. I don’t know where to begin and the more time that passes, the harder it seems for me to actually begin. Any advice?”

April, you’re not alone. So many sponsors have been in your shoes — and in this month’s edition of our Compassion Letter Club where we’re answering your burning letter questions, we’re going to share a few tips from some others who understand exactly how you feel.

First of all, stop feeling guilty.

Hellos are hard. Cultures are complex. And when life gets busy, writing to the child we sponsor can get pushed to the back burner.

But don’t let that keep you from getting started — or started again.

Great Advice from Sponsors on How to Write if You Never Have


There’s a little someone who’s waiting on the edge of their seat to get a letter from you.

Yes, YOU. We’re talking antsy, giggly, laugh-out-loud anticipation that today will be the day they get a letter from YOU.

So, what’s holding you back?

Here’s what other sponsors have said about letter writing in their lives…

We procrastinate writing that first letter.

Gah! Is there a tutorial for this?!” — Andrew

“We want it to be a perfect intro to our family. Unfortunately, that means we still haven’t sent anything.” — Christine

“I wasn’t sure what to write and how to start. I waited almost 10 months before I sent a letter.” — Tara (Sponsor for 7.5 years)

We don’t know what to say.

“I feel like I’m always struggling with what to say to my kid. I’m constantly worried that my stories and photos will draw a line between us because I have means, and they don’t. Then I remember that they just want a letter. I’m the one who is worrying.” — Emily T. (Sponsor for 5 years)

“I feel this way all the time! I use the examples from” — Tara

“I’m not sure what else to talk about. I am not sure what parts of my life might be culturally confusing (such as pets, my work, going on trips, etc.). What I try to do is just think about what has been going on in my life lately. Have I seen my family? Celebrated any weddings or birthdays? Then I think of something about my country and culture that might be new or interesting to them. One time I told my child about the Kentucky Derby! Finally, I think about what God has been teaching me in my life lately and offer a few thoughts and try to make it age-appropriate and include a verse. This way they can see how God is working in my life.” — Emily S. (Sponsor for 10 years)

We feel guilty for not writing — so we don’t write at all.

“Honestly, I’m embarrassed and feel bad and that’s why I haven’t written in so long.” — Dan (Sponsor for 7 years)

“I was cleaning out my closet one day and found three, yes, three, letters from my sponsored child that I hadn’t responded to. You’d think that it would have pushed me to drop what I was doing and write, but no. I felt so bad after so long that I was afraid to write at all. Finally, I just decided to get over it and I sent a letter. I apologized for not writing in so long and promised her (and myself) that I’d keep on.” — Jenny (Sponsor for 8 years)

“I think sometimes I hesitate to write because I am not sure how to connect with someone who is in such a different situation from my own. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking about how many activities and things I have in comparison to my child. In my conversations with my friends we often share what new thing we bought or who is saving for a car or house. When I write to my child, I have to go into a different frame of mind and share more from my heart. Sometimes it’s difficult to get into that space.” — Emily S.

So…first letter, or long time between letters…what helps?

Great Advice from Sponsors on How to Write if You Never Have

“It helps me to imagine the smile on my child’s face when their name is called and they find out they’ve gotten a letter. That’s pretty motivating to me.” — Jenny

“You could sit around and feel guilty, or you could just write! Take five minutes and send a quick note. Something tells me that your kiddo isn’t keeping tabs of your bummers. They are just counting down the days till they hear back from you.” — Lee (Sponsor for 10 years)

Think about someone in your life that you haven’t heard from in a long time. If they reached out to you today, what would you feel? I would feel glad and joyful that this person wants to have a connection with me and excited to hear what they have to say. It really is never ‘too late’ to write to your child.” — Tara

“I would say what helps our family is remembering the impact it has on the kids and how little effort it takes on our end. Articles like this on the blog are awesome reminders of how much the kids cherish their letters.” — Andrew

Is letter-writing THAT important?

“Letters are a big deal to the child you sponsor. I’m a sponsor and a Compassion employee so I know that at many of our centers, ‘Letter Day’ is a special occasion. Children sit on the edge of their seats waiting to hear their name called so they can run up to the front of the room and get a letter from their sponsor. The entire room bursts out into cheer and applause. Why not create this special moment for the child you sponsor?” — Jenny

Great Advice from Sponsors on How to Write if You Never Have

“Letter-writing truly is the single most powerful way to connect the heart of a child to the heart of a sponsor. Sponsored children hold their letters so dear that it will be a treasure regardless of how long its been. It’s never too late to tell a child you love them. I think its great to be vulnerable and honest. If you’re apologetic, say so. And reassure the child you sponsor just how important they are regardless of how imperfect you feel.” — Tara

What now?

“Write back as soon as you receive a letter from the child you sponsor. This makes it fresh in your mind and you just get it done in one task.” — Sara (Sponsor for 13 years)

Put it on your calendar! Decide how often you want to write and make an appointment for yourself. It’s OK if you move it around, but don’t delete it and take it as a seriously as you would any meeting.” — Emily S.

You can create reminders to write a letter in the Compassion app. Download the app and start your routine today.

“Pray! Before you write your letter, pray and ask God what HE wants you to share with this child. What message should you give them with this precious time? What might they be struggling with?” — Emily S.

“Look at the news from your child’s country or area. What is happening there right now? Is there something you could tell them you are praying for? What does this area struggle with that might be impacting your child’s neighborhood (gang violence, floods, political upsets, etc.)? — Emily S.

We sometimes need a reminder of why we write at all.

“Jesus called us to love our neighbor. Sponsoring a child is certainly an expression of that love and is so important and valuable. But Compassion offers you the opportunity to love in RELATIONSHIP with a child that is in very different circumstances from your own. This is a reflection of the relationship we have with Christ.” — Emily S.

smiling boy in red shirt sitting at desk writing a letter

Children are packed with the potential to change their own lives, the lives of their families, their community and beyond. The future belongs to them and writing to them gives you a very special and unique opportunity to encourage them in this, speak into their lives and help spark this potential into action and change.” — Emily S.

Start today.

Whether you’re unsure about how to write that first letter nervous about breaking a letter-lull, you’re in good company — and we’re here to help you.

Here are some letter-writing prompts to help you give the child you sponsor the day they’ve been waiting for: the day they get a letter from YOU. The person who loves them, cherishes them, cheers them on, and is in their corner to be their biggest supporter and champion.

Feel ready to step out and write that first letter?



How do you keep in touch with the child you sponsor? What advice do you have for other sponsors like you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Join our community of letter-writers on Pinterest! Check out the Compassion Letter Club collaborative board for awesome letter-writing inspiration.

10 Comments |Add a comment

  1. JustMe April 21, 2019

    I guess I’m one of the more “lucky” ones, because my girl and I are the same age pretty much, so writing comes easily to us, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be referring back to this blog post if I’m not quite sure what to say in the future! 🙂

  2. Sharon January 4, 2019

    I fell like sometimes this is just another bill to be paid. Does anyone feel the same way? And I don’t really believe that the kids look forward to hearing from us, because when they write they say the same thing each time: What season they are in and what they grow to eat..always corn and potatoes. Not much else. They don’t answer questions. I mean simple questions. This is my third kid..I told myself after the first more…What was I thinking? Sorry for the sad letter, just being honest, and I’m sure there are others that feel the same, that’s why some people don’t bother writing, they just pay the bill each month.

    1. Christina January 7, 2019

      Sharon, I am deeply sorry to hear that your sponsorship experience has been less than what you have hoped for, and I would love to help in any way that I can. We are truly grateful for the incredible difference you’ve made in the lives of your previous children, and we appreciate your heart to bless your new sweet girl, Bada, with your love and support. I hear your heart for this ministry and your desire to foster a relationship with your child. Please know that our desire is for every sponsor to have this opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with their child. I’m saddened to hear that your letter-writing relationship with your former sponsored children fell short of your expectations. I’m sad that it is too late to help with your relationships with your former children, but I may be able to help with your new little girl. I am sure that your kiddos did indeed look forward to every single letter you sent to them, and I’m sure that Bada was overjoyed to learn that you are her sponsor and receive your letters! I hope that you will receive her first letter to you soon!

      Sadly, many children feel timid or have a lack of confidence when it comes to writing. It is also quite common for children to be behind in their schooling due to a lack of opportunity or funds to pay for school fees. When you ask questions, your child should indeed be answering them, and I’m sorry if you haven’t received answers from your previous kids. That being said, some circumstances may cause your child to forget. For example, when your child receives your letter, they will most likely bring it home, show their family, and then put it away somewhere safe. Then, they may forget what questions you’ve asked them when it comes time to respond to your letter on letter-writing day. We have seen some great results when writing out questions in a list, underlining them, or even highlighting them. This will make your questions really stand out in your letters, and it will increase your child’s likeliness of remembering your questions. As Bada gets to know you more and gets older, I’m sure you’ll begin to see her open up to you. If you are writing to your child regularly, about once every 1-2 months, you should look forward to receiving about 6 letters per year :).

      I cannot express how sorry I am to hear of the doubts you have about Compassion and whether you will continue to sponsor. We sincerely look forward to earning your trust and proving our hearts for serving our sponsors and children with excellence. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Have a blessed day!

  3. Amy November 29, 2018

    My youngest son finished high school through a challenge prgram and then enlisted in the arly so the 5 months he was at Thunderbird YOuth Challenge and the 10 weeks in Basic traing, letters were our only way to communicate with him. I can tell you from this experience I learned that it does matter so much what you write but that you just write. Your child will know you are thinking of them and care. I always sent my son inspirational quotes, messages and bible verses. I didn’t know until after the fact how very much that helped him. I encourage you to write your child and don’t worry too much about what you say. just send them a note rooted in love.

  4. Cora July 7, 2018

    I was much better at writing when it was actual letters that were being sent – the reason being, I would address the envelopes at the beginning of the year for the whole year then send one per child per month. For me, it was easy to just open the card, write a letter and send it (they sat on my desk so I was reminded of it often). Is there going to be a way to maybe prepare a letter ahead of time and choose a date in the future for it to be sent? Example, I would be able to at least write something simple and have it ready to be sent automatically next month or whatever later date I chose (then if I decide I want to add more before the send date, I can go back in and add more but if I forget to go back then at least the simple letter would go at the requested date). I think that would be super helpful!

    1. Susan Sayler July 9, 2018

      Cora, I sincerely apologize for the confusion and that this transition to digital letters has been so difficult. You are still welcome to send basic cards like you mention. We will scan these cards and send them to your child. If the cards are musical or pop-up cards, we will mail the card physically. However, most greeting cards can still be sent. You can also send a card through the online system. Regrettably, we do not have plans to hold letters to be sent at another date.

  5. Paul Thomas June 22, 2018

    I’m sorry but I’m going to be a little critical here. I’ve written many letters, letters where I have poured my heart out and have asked many questions and talked about general stuff. My sponsored kids are not little kids, one is 21 years old, and two others are 18 years old and I have not received one reply from any of them. Now, I’m not going to totally stop writing letters to them but there has to be some give and take. I mean, I’m out of material. In order for me to write to them something substantial, I need for them to have answered some of my questions to them, engage with me in some way. Communication is a two way street. It’s very disheartening to me. I’m not going to write nearly as much as I have. The two 18 year olds have birthdays coming up and I will send them a letter with a gift in a few weeks but other wise I feel like I’m writing to a wall.

    1. Christina June 25, 2018

      Paul, I am deeply sorry to hear that you have not received responses from your children yet. I hear your heart and desire to foster meaningful relationships and connect with your boys. We are truly grateful that you have chosen to bless them with your love, support, and encouraging letters. Please know that it may take up to 4 months to receive your first letter from your child due to the time it takes for the letter to be written, sent to the field office, translated, processed, and delivered to you. I do see that Yishak’s first letter arrived on April 23rd. Did you receive his letter? It may also take a couple of months for you to receive his response to your reciprocal letter. I see that you started sponsoring Jordan on April 29th and Alandy on May 3rd, so it may take a little bit longer to receive their introduction letters. If you have not received Jordan’s first letter by August 29th or Alandy’s first letter by September 3rd, please do let us know so we may help you further. I understand your eagerness to begin your relationship with them, and I encourage you to not give up on fostering those relationships. Please know that it may take some time to develop a regular back and forth correspondence, and the beginning months do tend to be a slow start. I’m so sorry that we did not communicate these expectations to you so you could be prepared for this slow start. We encourage supporters to write to their kiddos about once every 1-2 months as this helps keep a fairly regular flow of letters to and from your kiddos once the relationship has been established. Although we do ask children to respond to every letter they receive from their sponsor, some circumstances can cause a child to miss letter writing day which may cause a delay in responding. This is rare, but please do let us know if you ever go more than 6 months without a letter after your child’s initial letter. Thank you so much for your patience, grace, and understanding. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. God bless you.

      1. Paul June 26, 2018

        Thanks Christina, I’m sorry I wrote such a negative post in such a positive blog that was actually written very well. I wrote my post out of frustration and perhaps needed to work some of that frustration out. However,I used the wrong venue and in that way I was wrong in doing so.
        Thanks for the encouraging words Christina and keep up the wonderful work that you and the rest of the crew here do!

  6. Kathy June 22, 2018

    I have been sponsoring for 35+ years and honestly, when I first started I was not a good letter writer. But I have learned how important it is and now each kid gets a letter about once a month… but I have come to realize that I am part of their lives for a season and then I am gone, but it is their relationship with the Lord that sustains them. So with each letter, I try to build their relationship with Him. He will never leave them. If I am not feeling inspired, I have been known to use a children’s devotional to get ideas from. The topics are endless…. like anything else you do, the more you do it the better you get at it and the easier it feels.

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