How Does Giving a Gift Help People in Poverty?

Sometimes people wonder — does giving gifts to people in poverty actually help? When you give a Family Gift with Compassion, you can rest assured that your money is being wisely, thoughtfully and strategically spent to meet the needs of your sponsored child’s family. That sounds great, doesn’t it? But what does it actually mean?

Well, when you give a Family Gift, 90 percent of your donation goes straight toward the gift itself. And instead of giving the money directly to the family, local Compassion staff come alongside to help the family identify the best way to use your gift. Together, they select a gift that will provide long-term, life-changing solutions.

Here are a few examples of awesome gifts that children and their families have received from people like you!

A Boat

How Does Giving a Gift Help People in Poverty?

Ten-year-old Frank is a Compassion-sponsored child in Tanzania. His father makes a living by fishing, but he often struggled to support his family because he didn’t own a boat — he had to rent one. But thanks to a generous Family Gift, now Frank’s father has a boat!

“We decided to buy a canoe because fishing is the thing that I know how to do best. Owning a canoe meant that I could make more money than I used to for my family.” – Jackson, Frank’s father

A Bicycle

How Does Giving a Gift Help People in Poverty?

Ten-year-old Novi from Indonesia has received multiple Family Gifts from her sponsor. Most recently, her family, with the assistance of the center staff, decided to buy Novi a bicycle with a Family Gift. Now Novi can get to and from the Compassion center safely and on her own!

“I can make more money and focus on finding customers since Novi has the bicycle. Every day she rides the bike to go to school and the center.” – Olin, Novi’s mother


How Does Giving a Gift Help People in Poverty?

Six-year-old Milagro is a Compassion-sponsored child in Colombia. Her family lives in poverty and could not afford many necessary household items. But thanks to a generous Family Gift, Milagro’s family was able to purchase beds and other important items for their home!

“When I heard about the sponsor gift, I felt happy because we were able to get things that we really needed — beds for my children, a dining table and a washing machine.” – Eliana, Milagro’s mother

A Toilet

How Does Giving a Gift Help People in Poverty?

Six-year-old Natalie from Indonesia used to live in a home that had an open, unhygienic toilet. But thanks to a generous Family Gift, Natalie and her family now have a new toilet. Then, a few months after receiving this gift, Natalie’s family received another Family Gift that allowed them to build an entire bathroom!

Help Families Affected BY COVID-19

Families in poverty have no safety net in times of crisis. Help provide food, medical care and support during this pandemic.

“We had some needs to cover, but center staff helped us to decide which of our needs was a priority.”— Hetly, Natalie’s grandmother

Family Gifts change lives because they are wisely, thoughtfully and strategically given.

Give a Family Gift ›

If you recently gave a Family Gift, thank you! Check out this video to see firsthand the kind of impact your gift will make!

Field reporting and photos by Lina Marcela Alcarón Molina, Vera Aurima and Erica D. Lema.

44 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Mark McMurry May 13, 2020

    You should consider changing your policy and sending out a monthly or at least a quarterly picture of each sponsored child for the sponsors anyway. I am getting each photo pretty much on a yearly basis. We enjoy seeing them grow and feeling like there is a little bit more of a connection with them. It’s not like you have to have film developed anymore, pretty much every cellphone has a camera and it’s simple enough to have someone at the community Compassion center snap a picture and email it to someone that can post them online. I do realize it takes a little time to post them to each account and so on, but I think it would be a good thing in the long run because seeing them more would probably result in more frequents gifts and new sponsorships. Something to think about.

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie May 13, 2020

      Hi Mark! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback about how connected you feel to your child when you receive photo updates. We definitely wish we had the ability to do more frequent photo updates for this exact reason! However, our national office staff do not currently have this capability. Even though there have been many improvements as far as how many people have technology in the developing world, we still work in some very remote regions where they may not have reliable wifi or be able to use a phone on a regular basis. Each photo update includes a visit from someone in our national office, where they evaluate the growth of the child and input their updated information, as well as their updated photo. This staff member travels throughout the country, taking the new information for both existing children and the new children who were just registered in the program. Since they may be taking updated photos and information for up to 400 children at a time, we aren’t able to guarantee formal updates for children on a more frequent basis right now. I hope that helps explain a bit about our process for updating photos, but please let us know if you have any questions by sending us an email at

  2. Avatar
    Mollie Cambre May 2, 2020

    I wasn’t aware of the $60.00 amount to get a thank you note or letter. I only found out about this after seeing the responses on this site. I can’t find out any information about the amount on the website. Maybe I am just not seeing it. I recently sent a $50.00 birthday gift to my child and $100 family gift. I hope that I will get a letter from my sponsorship child in a few months.

    1. Kaye-lin Mahand
      Kaye-lin Mahand May 4, 2020

      Hi Mollie! I really appreciate your concerns about the gifts that you have sent. Normally, when a gift donation of $60 or more is sent, the church is able to include a photo of the items that are purchased in your child’s thank you letter within six months of the gift being delivered. Sadly, due to COVID-19, our national offices are temporarily closed and working with limited staff. Because of this, we have extended grace to our church partners on typical deadlines and requirements to ensure they can prioritize critical needs of the children and their families. When the churches can resume letter processing, you will eventually receive a thank you letter with information about how your gift was used. If you have any specific questions about this, please don’t hesitate to let us know by emailing us at We would be happy to look into your specific account and send you more details! ~ Kaye-Lin

  3. Avatar
    Bonnie Bronleewe April 30, 2020

    I expect that world-wide shut-downs due to covid-19 have greatly increased the needs of the families of sponsored children. Are those restrictions causing additional delays in the delivery of funds sent by sponsors, or in the purchase of needed items or supplies for the families? Is it likely that those restrictions and the closure of the learning centers will also delay letters, thank you notes, and photos, from the children to their sponsors? Are letters from sponsors being translated and delivered to the children during the closures?

    1. Avatar
      Shannon April 30, 2020

      Hi Bonnie,

      You are absolutely right. We are experiencing delays in delivering gifts to the children, letters and also funds. Although the children are not able to attend the centers during this time, we have limited staff who are able to work to get funds and gifts distributed. We also know some letters are being delivered, but they are low priority to gifts and monthly support. In addition, our staff is working hard to deliver any supplies families might be in need of, if they are able. We are truly thankful to all our staff who are working so hard to take care of these children and their families.

  4. Avatar
    Ellen LaMontagne April 29, 2020

    I thank you for all your hard work. I have never sent $60 at one time but Olivier always thanks me for my additional gifts and often says what he or the family purchased. I don’t require a picture of the gift but would love more pictures if Olivier anytime!!

  5. Avatar
    Donna Garcia April 4, 2020

    I also have never heard of sending $60.00 or more and you will receive a Thank you & picture. I usually send $50.00 and have always wondered if the family ever truly benefited from it. I will make sure I send a minimum of $60.00 from now on. Please make sure more Sponsors are aware of this. I’m sure it will increase the contributions when they have confirmation about their gift.
    Thank you for all you do!

    1. Christina
      Christina April 6, 2020

      Donna, I am sorry to hear that you did not know that a child gift of $60 or more would require to thank you letter and gift photo. I would also like to make sure that you know a child gift, like a general gift, birthday gift, or a family gift, of $21 to $59 still would require a thank you letter without a photo. If you have sent a gift of that amount and have not received a thank you letter from your child within 6 months of the date you sent your gift, please do let us know. Thank you so much for your partnership and the difference you’re making!

  6. Avatar
    Lynnette Caldwell March 31, 2020

    I didn’t know anything about the $60 threshold for gifts. I recently gave my sponsor child $50 for her birthday and $50 for her family so a total of $100 in one gift from me but two separate gifts for them. I suggest that on the website that there is a prompt letting me know before I submit the gift that if I increased the amount or changed the way I gave the gift I would get a thank you letter and a picture of the gift with the child. I would love to receive that precious communication from my sponsor child and would have gladly given $20 more for that.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon March 31, 2020

      Hi Lynnette,

      I am so sorry that you did not know this prior to giving your gifts. We are so thankful for your kind heart to bless your kiddo and their family and truly want to thank you for blessing them in this very tangible way! If you would like, we can combine them for you so that we can get you a photo. If you would like us to do this for you, please send us an email at and we can certainly make that change for you. In addition, thank you so much for sharing this idea. I will pass along the idea to get a warning put online. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Carol Marsh March 2, 2020

    I sent a gift of $100 to the family for Christmas. I haven’t received any pictures or what they used it for. I would love to receive info or pictures to make sure they received it.

    1. Christina
      Christina March 2, 2020

      Hi Carol! Thank you so much for your generous hear to bless sweet Andres and his family for Christmas! Of course, with any gifts of $60 or more, you will receive a thank you letter and picture for it, which is so exciting! 😊 Due to the time it takes to process, deliver, and utilize your gift funds, we do allow the child and field staff up to 6 months to deliver the thank you letter. Since you gave your gift on December 12, 2019, you should receive Andres’ thank you letter and picture no later than June 12, 2020. If you have not received his thank you letter by then, please do let us know, and we would be happy to inquire after this gift for you. Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

  8. Avatar
    Irma Niere February 28, 2020

    I recently gave a gift to my sponsored child and family for her birthday. As I’m reading these comments I see that a photo would have been sent to me with a $60 donation. I sent $50. If I had known, I would have sent $10 more. I would have loved a photo of my child with her gift. Is there a way to add an extra $10 so that I may receive a photo?

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie February 28, 2020

      Hi Irma,

      I am truly sorry for the confusion! We are so grateful for you recent birthday and family gift donations for Pretinha. They will be an immense blessing for her and her family.

      It appears your donation made on our website was for a $25 birthday gift and $25 family gift. While these gifts will both be delivered to your child and her family, they are two different gifts that will be delivered separately. Your birthday donation will be used to help Pretinha purchase an item for herself that meets her most dire needs, and then your family gift will be used for her family as a whole to help meet their needs.

      Once you process your donation, we almost immediately send your gift funds to our national office in Brazil to be delivered to your child. Sadly, this means that we can’t add any extra funds to your gift donation this time. However, when you send your next birthday or family gift donation, you can select $60 for the gift. This will ensure that your child sends you a photo of how she used your gift donation.

      I am very sorry that we can’t add the funds to your donation.😔 We would love for you to have a photo of your child with your generous gifts when you send your next gift!

  9. Avatar
    Betty Kochmaruk February 14, 2020

    I see that you write if you give a gift of $60 or more, you will get a picture of what was purchased, and maybe a family member….I have rec’d pictures of our sponsored child on her birthdays, but have never known what was purchased for the family.

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie February 14, 2020

      Hello Betty!

      Thank you so much for the generous gifts you have sent to Arfasie. I was able to look at her letters, and it looks like she has sent you some photos and descriptions of how she used the gifts in her letters. I would be happy to send you copies of her letters that include the gift descriptions and thank you letter in case they were missed. Could you please send us an email at We would be happy to send you the letters with her thank you letters.

  10. Avatar
    Nancy Atwood February 12, 2020

    I want to thank you and all of the amazing Compassion workers!! You are a blessing to us and a blessing to the children and their families!!

    God Bless you always!

    1. Avatar
      Shannon February 12, 2020


      Thank you so much for your kind words of support! It truly means so much to us! May God continue to abundantly bless you as well!

  11. Avatar
    Renda February 6, 2020

    How will I know how my family gift was utilized?

    1. Avatar
      Shannon February 6, 2020

      Hi Renda,

      First of all, thank you so much for blessing your sweet child and their family with a generous gift! Please know that you will receive a thank you letter roughly six months after your gift was given to explain what they used the funds for. In addition, if the gift was over $60, you will receive a photo of what was purchased along with your kiddo and/or one or more of their family members. If you ever notice that it has been more than six months and you have not received your thank you letter, please let us know so that we can follow up on it. Thank you so much!

  12. Avatar
    Paul January 23, 2020

    I have no idea what the needs are of my child and his family. I do know one thing, the average house hold income in his area is $200 a month and I gave his family a $500 gift. This makes me feel so good because if I received a similar gift I would have an extra two months of income and I could use that to do a lot of things from fixing things to buying big items that I need. The fact that I am able to make such a huge positive change in someone else’s life puts a huge smile on my face! And most of the needs for these people are things that I and you take for granted. It just blows my mind really. I’m just so happy for my child and his family, I wish I was there to so the look on their faces when they are told of the gift from me.

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie January 24, 2020

      Hi Paul! Thank you so much for the generous gift you sent to your sponsored child’s family. I am sure that it made a huge impact in their lives! Blessings!

  13. Avatar
    Doreen Patenaude Mahoney December 17, 2019

    How much does a milk cow cost in Uganda?

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie December 18, 2019

      Hi Doreen, the cost of a milk cow varies quite a bit. The approximate cost of buying a cow in Uganda is $245 USD. However, this does not necessarily include the items needed to provide for the cow, such as food and shelter. When you give the gift of a cow through our gift catalog, we make sure that the family is able to provide for the cow’s needs as well as the cost of purchasing the milk cow.

  14. Avatar
    Helen Francis November 30, 2019

    I would like to see a picture of Wilson and know what my gifts are purchasing.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon December 2, 2019

      Hi Helen,

      Thank you so much for not only choosing to sponsor Wilson, but for also investing in him by writing letters and sending him and his family gifts! Please know that anytime you send a $60 gift or more, you will receive a thank you letter along with a photo of what was purchased. This photo will either include your child or one of their family members, if not both. Your gift is actually distributed to the church first. Then, one of our staff will meet with the family and your child to decide the best use for your gift. Once they have made a decision, one of our staff will go purchase the items and deliver them back to the family. We do this for safety reasons for the family and also to ensure your gift is used wisely. With that said, that process can take a bit of time, so we do allow a six month time frame for a gift thank you letter and picture to be received. If for any reason you do not receive your thank you letter and photo after six months, please do let us know so that we can reach out to the center and make sure everything went okay. In addition, for any gift you give that is less than $60, you will still receive the thank you letter, but no photo will be attached. I hope this is helpful!

  15. Avatar
    Melissa November 8, 2019

    Hello, I was wondering since I sent $25 for: Christmas, birthday and family gift. Will I only get a letter for each gift since we gave $25 a piece on the gifts or will I get a photo and letter since in total I gave $75 .

    I just wanted to see my sweet child and his momma’s smiles.

    1. Mackenzie
      Mackenzie November 11, 2019

      Hi Melissa, thank you so much for reaching out to us! Sadly, we are not able to send photo receipts for these gifts, even though together they total $75. Because of how our gifts are delivered, we would need one gift of $60 or more for the local staff to send back a photo of the gift. I am really sorry. I definitely understand wanting to see more photos of your sponsored child.

  16. Avatar
    Lanette November 7, 2019

    I sent both of my children a $100 family gift and never received a picture, let alone a description of what was bought.

    1. Christina
      Christina November 7, 2019

      Lanette, I am deeply sorry to hear that you never received a thank you letter or gift photo from your sweet children, Nicolas and Daria. Since your generous gift was over $60, you definitely should have received a picture along with a thank you letter. Although Nicolas and Daria did not specifically acknowledge and thank you for your gifts, I am sure they are very appreciative and grateful. Your gifts are a huge blessing! Please rest assured that I have reached out to our Mexican and Tanzanian national offices, and our wonderful field staff there will ensure that your children write a thank you letter and that a picture is provided of them and what they purchased. Our Compassion-assisted child development centers are very good at keeping thorough records, so they may have a picture of them when they initially received your gifts. Sadly, mistakes do happen on occasion, so if they have to take a new picture, they may not still have your gifts depending on what was purchased since this was a couple years ago. When your child and their family receive special gifts, a Compassion staff member assists them in purchasing a gift for your child. For gifts of $21 or more, you can expect to receive a thank you letter from your about six months after the gift is given, letting you know what was purchased. If the gift amount is $60 or more, you will also receive a photo of what was purchased. If you choose to bless your kiddos with gifts in the future, please let us know if you do not receive a thank you letter within six months. We will be in contact with you as soon as we receive a response from our national offices within 45 days. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

  17. Avatar
    Sandy November 5, 2019

    My wife and I generally give (2) family gifts / year, Christmas and again in June. In Jan. of this year, along with a letter from Katia, we received a thank you letter and pictures from her parents. The modest gift we provided enabled them to purchase 3-months worth of food staples as well as needed clothing. This morning I woke up with a roof over my head, heat, clean water and food in the fridge. That is a blessing most in this world do not have, and I am happy to pay it forward tom my sponsored childs family making their life a little easier.

  18. Avatar
    Regina Alexander October 30, 2019

    I feel like the $25 I can give for a family gift is so little. Yet, that’s all I can give at this time. Does that small amount really make a difference?

    1. Avatar
      Shannon October 30, 2019


      Please know even $1 would be helpful. These families live on less than $1.90 per day so anything really does make a difference. If everyone gave just a little, no one would need to give a lot. Every donation is special and makes a difference to one child and that family!

  19. Avatar
    Kenneth J Fields October 29, 2019

    I saw in one example of gift giving where someone needed a boat and was gifted the funds to purchase one. My question is, if the need is immediate, as most are I suppose, is it possible to somehow expedite the process? I would hate to think that the gift is coming but having to have the family wait several months to receive that needed help could be too late in some instances. I understand the process to getting those needed funds to a family could be somewhat tricky. Just a thought.

    1. Sierra
      Sierra October 29, 2019

      Hi, Kenneth! That’s a great question! Sadly, each gift has to follow the same path, and gifts are normally wire-transferred to each center about once a month. That’s why we send out reminders to send gifts about two months before you would want your child to get the gift (Christmas, birthday, etc.), so we can plan for the time it takes to arrive. It would be wonderful if gifts could be sent and received within maybe just a few days or weeks, but sadly, we’re not quite there yet!

  20. Avatar
    Peggy Sue Greenlee October 5, 2019

    Does our sponsored child receive the actual things we send to him with his letter ???? Example : book marks, cards to color and stickers ?????

    1. Christina
      Christina October 7, 2019

      Hi Peggy! I’m happy to help you and answer your questions! Thank you so much for your heart for this ministry and for the love you have for your child! We appreciate your desire to bless your kiddo in a very tangible way.

      Along with a personal letter, you can send: stickers, bookmarks, musical greeting cards, and pop-up cards. These items will be physically delivered to your child. Please keep in mind that items sent without a personal letter will not be delivered to your sponsored 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”. If you have any further questions about our letter writing guidelines, more information is available here at Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Have a blessed day!

  21. Avatar
    Kimberley Wheeler August 27, 2019

    How can I send age appropriate VBS material to my sponsor child? Every year my church has extra material from Vacation Bible School.

    1. Christina
      Christina August 28, 2019

      Hi Kimberly! Great question! You may also send scannable, flat, paper items (such as greeting cards, coloring pages or photos) with your correspondence to your child. These items should be no larger than 8.5” x 11” and will be digitally scanned at our headquarters to be delivered electronically to our national offices. Each letter, and accompanying scannable items, should total no more than six front and back pages. Depending on how many pages of your VBS material you would like to send, you may have to send it all over the course of a couple of letters. 🙂 I encourage you to send your kiddo a personal letter with these pages to explain to them what they are and how they may be of use and value to your kiddo! Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Have a blessed day!

  22. Avatar
    James Enger August 23, 2019

    If I send say 50.00 dollar gift and say it goes to the family, Justin Jair Remache Guaman ( child # 4680508) mother will receive 45.00 to purchase things they need.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon August 26, 2019

      Hi James,

      You got it! This is exactly how gifts work! Please let us know if you need any assistance sending a gift! 🙂

  23. Avatar
    Beth Logan March 14, 2019

    I sponsor a child and would love to make a Monetary Contribution. How can I find out what my child needs the most so I know how much to contribute?

    1. Avatar
      Shannon March 14, 2019

      Hi Beth,

      We are very thankful that you desire to send your child funds to buy a gift! Regrettably, the only way to know what your child and their family needs is to ask in a child letter. Please be aware that Compassion will utilize 10% of your individual child-gift donation for the ministry’s administration and program delivery costs of the gift. You will receive a thank you letter, approximately six months from when the gift was given, to let you know what was purchased. Also, if you happen to send a gift of $60 or more, the family will send you a picture of what was purchased! 🙂 Please know that you are welcome to also send a recommendation of what you would like your gift money used for, but if the family receives the money and decides they have a better use for the funds, we do allow them to make that decision, as this will ensure they get exactly what they need most! I hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any other questions! Have a wonderful day! 

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