How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

When we asked you what you wanted to know about writing letters to the child you sponsor, one question rose to the top of your comments on Facebook, Instagram and the blog:

How long does it take to send and receive letters?

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

For this month’s Compassion Letter Club, we chatted it up with folks on our Correspondence and Mail Processing Teams here at our headquarters in Colorado. Who better to give us the inside scoop on the U.S. side of the letter delivery process?

They’ll address some of your specific questions while walking us through what it takes to get your precious words to the country in which the child you sponsor lives. And even better, they’ll share some pro tips for what we can do as sponsors to help the process go smoothly. Because let’s be honest … receiving a letter is such a joy, we all — including students in the program — want our letters to arrive yesterday!

Meet Aaron, Karen and Joe. They manage the teams that care for all of the physical letters from both sponsors and beneficiaries in our program.

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

From left: Aaron Brown, Karen Huston and Joe Cammaroto

“2017 was a record-breaking year for letter writing at Compassion. We received over 2 million individual letters from U.S. supporters and over 3 million letters from children in the program to their sponsors!” says Aaron Brown, Correspondence Fulfillment Manager.

“We have people here 16 hours a day to ensure that the process stays super fast. It takes a lot of work but we love to facilitate the relationship between the sponsor and the child.”

WHERE DOES A LETTER GO?

“Does it [a letter] go to you first?” — @emily_loves_diy

There are three links in the chain that connects your letter to the child you sponsor: our U.S. headquarters, the Compassion office in the country where the child you sponsor lives, and the Compassion center he or she attends at his or her local church.

If you choose to write a letter through your account online or through the Compassion app, it doesn’t come here to our U.S. headquarters. The letter is digitally received — almost immediately — in the office in the country in which the child lives. There it is translated and printed. Then the letter is delivered to the child’s Compassion center and into his or her eager hands.

PRO TIP: Track the progress of your letter in your account. You’re able to see when your letter is in transit, received, in translation and delivered!

Aarons shares, “Currently, about 35 percent of supporter letters are written online, either through the app or the website. This is excellent because it saves time and money in the processing.”

But you can also mail physical letters to us which we will digitally scan to your account for you. This is where the Correspondence and Mail Processing Teams come in.

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

The Mail Processing Team hard at work taking care of your letters.

WHAT DO CHILDREN RECEIVE?

“Do the kids receive the original letters/cards or just photocopies of them?” — Sarah

Both sponsors and children expressed their desire for letters to travel back and forth quicker. And we heard them! This is why we now digitally scan and electronically deliver letters and photos. They are printed and mailed within the country rather than shipped internationally.

Joe Cammaroto, Mail Services and Warehouse Manager, shares, “Delivery of sponsor letters to the child has gone from months to weeks.”

Scanning letters into your account also saves time in other ways. “Because we save images of the letters it really helps us sort out issues much faster! In the past, if a translator had a problem with a letter they would have to bring it back to the country office. Then the country office would have to mail it back to Colorado before we could see it and evaluate the problem. Now, that whole process that took weeks can take hours,” says Aaron.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DELIVER?

“Generally, how long does it take for a mailed letter or one typed online to be received by your child?” — @jennafifi_music

“Physical letters will take three to five days in the U.S. mail to get to us. Depending on the time of year and workload, letters are processed and scanned within 24 to 48 hours. The scanned documents go to the country within hours,” shares Joe.

If you wrote your letter online, it’s digitally delivered to the country office the same day.

Once the country office has received the letter, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for the letter to be delivered. A few factors can affect that timespan, like how close the Compassion center is to the office and how many letters the translators need to process.

(Teaser: We’ll be talking to the amazing folks who translate your letters soon. So be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out!)

WHAT CAN I MAIL?

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

“In sending gifts together with a letter it says that one can only send things made of paper due to border control rules. Do you have examples on things to send?” — @annavernqvist

“When we ship a package to the field, we ship it as a ‘document only’ shipment. ‘Document only’ shipments clear customs quicker and with a minimum of assessed duties and taxes,” Joe explains.

If you want what you send to get there as quickly as possible, we recommend only sending items that can be scanned – items like letters, photos, postcards, greeting cards, coloring pages and paper crafts. This eliminates the additional processing and shipping times of paper items that cannot be scanned and digitally delivered.

PRO-TIP: Consider sending a monetary gift.

Whether you give online or mail it to us, monetary gifts are always processed digitally so they don’t have to be shipped. Monetary gifts stimulate the local economy and allow the child, along with his or her family and local Compassion staff, to pick a gift that benefits him or her.

HOW CAN I HELP THE PROCESS GO SMOOTHLY?

“What things do we send that hold up our letters from being sent quickly?” — Yvonne

If you’d like the letter you mail to us to get to that special kiddo quickly, here are some more pro tips to help things go smoothly.

PRO TIP: Use Compassion stationery and leave the translation box blank.

Aaron shares, “One of the best ways for a letter to get there ASAP is to use official Compassion stationery. Just don’t write in the translation boxes — that will slow the process down by three to four days.”

“If the letter is on personal stationery, or greeting cards, with handwritten child and sponsor numbers it will be slightly delayed as those need to go to a staff person for some manual processing. If child or sponsor numbers are missing, the letter goes into a research queue. Those letters can be delayed for days,” says Joe.

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

Lovely gifts from sponsors that unfortunately cannot be sent with letters.

PRO TIP: Only send flat paper items.

“One of our biggest problems is items that cannot be scanned or sent physically to the field. These items can cause many hours of labor. It is heartbreaking at times not to be able to send some of the really beautiful items that sponsors send. Our sponsors have big hearts!” explains Joe.

“If the item can’t be sent, an email or letter is sent letting the sponsor know and the gift is donated,” says Karen. But don’t worry, your letter is still scanned and delivered!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE A LETTER?

Because letters from students are always scanned at the country office, it will show up in your online account right after it’s been translated. But if you’ve chosen to receive a paper version of the letter also, the Correspondence team here prints and mails it to you, usually within 24 hours.

How Long Does It Take for My Letters to Be Delivered?

Letters from students to sponsors are printed, folded and mailed from here in our warehouse.

Right now, we print about 15,000 letters a day from students to their sponsors. So much love!!

“We have been breaking records nearly every month with letter volumes. We love it when people write!” says Aaron.

PRO TIP: If you’d like to go paperless, head to your account and choose “Child Letter Preferences” to select getting an email notification when a digital letter arrives.

Joe, Karen, Aaron and their teams are just one link in the international, multicultural chain of folks who help connect you with the child you’ve chosen to invest in. Keep an eye out for more Compassion Letter Club posts this year as we tackle some of these same questions with more people in the know on the other side of that chain!

Now that you’re in “the know,” take a minute to send some encouragement to the child or teen you sponsor!

 

WRITE A LETTER TODAY! ›››
 

We are committed to continually improving this process so we always value your feedback. Keep your questions coming!


For Compassion Letter Club ideas of what to write or send with your letters, join our Compassion Letter Club community board on Pinterest!

37 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Patti April 13, 2018

    I received our 1st letter from our sponsored child in the mail. I’m not sure if our letters crossed paths since some of the things we asked or talked about were not acknowledged. His letter to us seemed like he may have written it prior to receiving ours. So now my 9 year old son thinks we need to wait until Ivan writes to us before we send another letter. I don’t know who’s turn it is.
    How does the child find out that he has gotten a sponsor?
    Does he write a letter at that point, or wait to hear from the new sponsor?
    Thank you.

    1. Christina
      Christina April 13, 2018

      Hi Patti! Welcome to the Compassion family! Thank you so much for choosing to bless a child with your love, support, and encouraging letters! When a child is notified they have a sponsor, they write their “Introduction Letter” right away, so their first letter is almost always written before they have received any letter from their sponsor. Therefore, it is very possible that your child received your letter after they had already written their first letter to you. I encourage you to not wait to write your next letter because the more letters you write, the more you will receive in return, up to about 6 letters per year :). I usually recommend writing about 1 letter every 1-2 months. This will develop a regular writing schedule between you and your kiddo. Please know that it may take a little time to develop a regular back and forth conversation in your letters. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We are so grateful for your desire to develop a meaningful relationship with your child! Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Have a blessed weekend!

      1. Christine Schroth April 14, 2018

        What if you don’t receive an introductory letter from the child you are sponsoring? I wrote a letter soon after signing up, and another just recently. I’m not sure she is even receiving them, how can I be sure? If she is, then I will just keep writing, thank you.

        1. Christina
          Christina April 16, 2018

          Christine, I’m so sorry to hear that you have not received Alejandra’s first letter yet as I’m sure you’re very eager to build a relationship with your precious girl. Regrettably, there are many variables involved with each individual letter, so it may take some letters more or less time to be received, processed, and delivered. When you have sponsored a child, you should receive your first letter within 4 months and no longer. I do see that our field office receive Alejandra’s first letter for you about a month ago, but they did have to send it back to have something fixed with it. I’m sorry for this delay, but you should receive Alejandra’s first letter soon! Please rest assured that your letters are indeed being sent to your sweet girl, and she is receiving them!

  2. Paul Thomas April 5, 2018

    Anytime you guys have an article on letter writing and the timing of how it all works is always a welcome read! I understand that when it comes to translating one language to another, and driving sacks of letters across train not meant for cars or trucks for many miles is going to take a long time. All in all I think you guys do a great job.
    My question has to do with my account and letter writing. There were a few letters I wrote online and submitted them last month, in March. I was watching the tracking of them. They went straight to Translation were it was said they had been submitted. They were there for 4 to 5 days. The tracking ended when the translation was apartently done.
    For the first time I viewed my letter drafts the other day and all but one letter was there. The heading said that these letters were “unfinished”, even though I saw each of these letters tracked as being in translation and having been submitted. I also want to point out that at no point did I ever ask that these letters be saved as a draft, at least I don’t ever remember ever having done so nor did I ever think I had an option to do so.
    My question is, are these letters that are in draft submitted or not? Are they on the way to my child or are they held up? Again, I wrote 4 letters in March, 3 are in draft and one of them isn’t, yet I tracked all of them as having gone through translation.

    1. Shannon April 6, 2018

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you so much for your kind feedback! I see that we did process, translate and send 4 letters to your sweet child. They were written on the 7th, 16th, 23rd and 29th. If you wouldn’t mind, can you please email us a screenshot of what you are seeing so we can ensure nothing is wrong with your account online? You can email us at socialmedia@compassion.com. Thank you so much!

      1. Paul Thomas April 6, 2018

        I sent the email, and thanks for letting me know that my letters are on the way!

  3. Jaclyn April 5, 2018

    Hi ladies! I’ve seen you respond to how to “track” our letters to our kiddos but when I do this, it only says “view” the letter I sent (I sent it online)! It doesn’t say processing, being reviewed, translated, etc. Is there perhaps a different way I’m missing?

    1. Shannon April 6, 2018

      Hi Jaclyn,
      It sounds like you may just be checking your letter a little too late and it has already gone through these different status updates. Are you checking your letters right after sending, or is this quite a bit after? -Shannon

      1. Jaclyn April 6, 2018

        Hey Shannon,
        We just started sponsoring him on the 4th so we sent him a letter that day! I know I read that when we submit letters online, it will be delivered to that place the same day. I remember at one point it did have something along the lines of “processing” or “reviewing” or something like that but I never saw it again. Now it just says “view” the letter I sent. It doesn’t tell me if it was delivered or being translated? Maybe they’re just SUPER fast lol!

        1. Susan Sayler
          Susan Sayler April 6, 2018

          Jaclyn, yes, that letter was delivered. 🙂 Thanks so much for writing to your child! It makes a huge difference!

  4. Pearl Wall April 1, 2018

    At the end of February/beginning of March I sent birthday cards and final letters to two of my sponsored kids whose birthdays and completion dates are in May. Based on the above, it would seem like they should have been scanned into the system my now as I live in a suburb of Denver. Is it slower right not processing items?

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Peal,
      Thank you so much for blessing your kiddos with these letters! We may see timing fluctuate just a little bit because it depends on so many variables. I would be happy to take a look into this for you! Which kiddos were these cards and final letters for? -Shannon

      1. Pearl Wall April 2, 2018

        Thank you for your offer. Derartu was written to on February 28th ((ET043400100) and Jean on March 2nd (HA081905783). I have kind of been tracking how long it takes my “handwritten” communications to reach your office and be put in translation since the move to the scanning system. I am not complaining but just concerned as they could have been lost by the USPS. I might need to resend, at least the final letters. They will need to be translated and I wanted to ensure that the letters are received by the time the student completes the program as I have received some rather strange letters on occasion that I firmly do not believe were written by the departing students. The new process seems to have really worked much better overall once some of the bugs were ironed out. Even at Christmas which is when I would expect you to be deluged, your staff has done a great job. It is possible that I made an error, but I did copy like I did for this for the final letters. Pearl

        1. Christina
          Christina April 3, 2018

          Pearl, thank you for this helpful information! I’m so sorry that your birthday cards and final letters to Derartu and Jean have not been received and scanned into our system for processing yet. Regrettably, I do not yet see them on my side either. I understand your eagerness for your letters to reach your young man and lady as their estimated completion dates and birthdays are quickly advancing. Usually, physical letters may only take a couple of weeks to be received in the mail and scanned. However, as we said early, there are many variables involved with each individual letter that may cause them to be a little delayed in processing. Because of this, we do need to allow a full eight weeks before inquiring our mail staff about a letter. Since you sent your letters about four to five weeks ago, we do need to wait another several months. Please do let us know if you do not see your letters to Derartu and Jean once it has been eight weeks, and we will be happy to inquire after them. Also, please rest assured that we are able to accept final letters for students a full 90 days after they have officially completed the program, so there is still plenty of time to ensure they receive your final letters :). Thank you so much for your grace and patience!

  5. Rebecca Littel March 31, 2018

    Send me a planning guide DVD that I can show to parishioners. My sponsor number is 4079367-5.

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Rebecca,
      Why type of planning guide DVD are you requesting exactly? -Shannon

  6. Rebecca Littel March 31, 2018

    I am happy to receive letters from my sponsored child. I will ry to send my letters on line when I can get into my account. I am willing to show the DVD planning guide to parishioners. My sponsor number is 4079367-5. You have my e-mail address. When I try to send it, the computer won’t put in the at.

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Rebecca,
      I am so sorry but I am not sure I understand what you need assistance with. Are you having trouble logging into your online account? Thank you so much for clarifying! -Shannon

  7. Norma Lewis March 30, 2018

    I was wondering how long it usually takes a child to write back? I began my sponsorship 2 months ago and though I have written a couple of letters, we have not received any letter from her. My daughters have each written a letter and wanted to hear back from our sponsored child as well.

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Norma,
      I am so sorry to hear that you have not heard from your sweet child yet! Please know that depending on where your kiddo lives it can take up to six weeks to even make them aware they are sponsored. Keeping this mind, it typically takes about 4 months to receive your first letter. If you still have not heard from your kiddo in 4 months, please let us know and we will be happy to send in an inquiry to make sure they have a letter on the way! 🙂 -Shannon

  8. Deanna Johnson March 30, 2018

    My child’s language is Spanish so a couple of times I have written in Spanish to hopefully convey my interest of her language to her. I have a co-worker who was raised by Spanish-speaking parents so I have him look over my letter beforehand to make sure it all makes sense. Could doing this possibly slow up the delivery of my letter to her? One time I made a coloring page of a Bible verse in English & then the same verse in Spanish. I know how excited I would feel it she were to write something to me that she had written in English so I wanted to also do that for her by writing in Spanish.
    Thank you for all you do to bring us closer to our sponsored children.

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Deanna,
      This is such a sweet idea! It is completely fine if you would like to write in Spanish, but we would also ask that you include an English copy. Sometimes our kiddos live in placed where they use a different dialect and this does help our translators in case there is a difference they cannot get from the Spanish copy. 🙂 Thank you so much for doing this and for blessing your sweet child! -Shannon

  9. Missy Voigts March 29, 2018

    I’m not quite sure if the blog post addressd this, but is it still possible to mail physical paper items, like stickers, bookmarks, and the like?

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Missy!
      We would love for you to continue to bless your child in this way! You may still send a letter accompanied by stickers, a bookmark, photos, or coloring pages. Anytime you send something to your child, please make sure to keep it to six pages or less. 🙂 -Shannon

  10. Margie Ryne March 29, 2018

    I sent $100.00 to Iris & I’ve not heard anything. The information said I would receive pictures of Iris & what she received. I’ve never gotten any pictures or not even a mention of the money I have sent to her in the past. Some one else writes her letters & they are far & few between. I even sent her pictures & they’ve never been mentioned. I’ve talked with other sponsors & they have beautiful stories to tell. I’m a little let down with this experience. I’ll stop now, I’m sorry I probably shouldn’t have said anything!! Thank you!

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Margie,
      I am so sorry to hear that you never heard anything about the very generous gift that you gave, nor about the photos you have sent. I see that the $100 gift that you gave was in February of this year. Typically it takes about 6 months for your gift to be sent to the country, meet with the child and family to decide to purchase, buy these items, take a photo and write a thank you letter. Please know this is a little bit of an in depth process to ensure the family gets exactly what they need. If you do not hear anything about your gift after 6 full months, then we would be more than happy to send in an inquiry! 🙂 I hope this helps! -Shannon

  11. Katrina V. March 29, 2018

    Thanks for this window into the letter delivery process! I love writing to and hearing from my sponsored children. I currently sponsor four, in Rwanda, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, and Sri Lanka. Letters from the first three come to me promptly, and the process goes faster now than before. But the translation process in Sri Lanka really needs work–it takes a letter up to 10 *months* to reach me. Sometimes Sayuri asks me well in advance to pray for something, but by the time I receive her letter it’s too late. So frustrating, and so hard to maintain a relationship that way.

    1. Shannon April 2, 2018

      Hi Katrina!
      Thank you so much for your kind words and your feedback! Please know we are aware some countries are a little behind others. But we always working on finding ways to speed things up and improve your relationship with your kiddos! Also, please know you can make us aware anytime there are six months between letters and we will happily send an inquiry for you to ensure everything is okay. You may email us socialmedia@compassion.com. Thanks so much! 🙂 -Shannon

  12. Laurie March 29, 2018

    Hello, I was wondering if the translators actually speak both languages, or do they type it into translating software? I have gotten pretty good at recognizing words and phrases in the various languages, and sometimes I can tell that the translation is not correct, so I use a translation app to see what it really says. I really appreciate all that you do, and the letters have been a huge blessing in my life. Thank you so much!

    1. Christina
      Christina March 29, 2018

      Hi Laurie! Our amazing translators do know both languages, but English is often a second language to them. We do utilize translation software, but our translators double check and make sure that every single letter is completed before sending to the next step for quality assurance checks. We purposefully have people who are fluid in their native dialect because they are able to understand local idioms and slang that translation software may not pick up on. That being said, nobody’s perfect, and there is always a margin for mistakes to occur. We appreciate your grace and understanding! Thank you so much for your heart to bless your sweet children with your love and support!

  13. Michael Bailey March 29, 2018

    Thank you for your blog post. Your time and effort in making the letter writing process clear is helpful to us who are eager to receive letters from our sponsored children. This was an insightful post. I have elected to write all my letters online and receive a digital copy of the letters that come from my sponsored children to save time and money. I can tell the process has definitely gotten more streamline from what it was 15 years ago.

    I am curious to know more about who translates the letters in country. Who are the translators? Do they work for compassion? I am sure the process is similar in the various countries. I noticed that some countries seem to take longer to translate letters than others. Why might this be?

    I always feel blessed when I receive a letter from one of my children. It warms my heart when I hear them respond to my letters, thank me for support or hear that they pray for me and love me. I believe that the letter writing process gives these children who are sponsored an opportunity to practice ministering and encouraging others through writing.

    Thank you again for your post!

    1. Christina
      Christina March 29, 2018

      Hi Michael! Thank you so much for your kind words and support of our ministry. You have asked some great questions! Our next Compassion Letter Club post will most likely answer your questions about our translators and how the translation process works. Stay tuned! We cannot thank you enough for the incredible difference you are making in the lives of your kiddos through building meaningful relationships with them! God bless you!

  14. Betsie Phillips March 29, 2018

    Hello! I cannot find how to “track” my letter as mentioned in the Pro Tip above. Can you direct me?

    1. Christina
      Christina March 29, 2018

      Hi Betsie! I have responded to your previous comment with the answer to your question. Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Have a blessed day!

  15. Betsie Phillips March 29, 2018

    Thanks for this post! I did not know you could track your letters. I am having trouble finding this is my account. Can you direct me?

    1. Christina
      Christina March 29, 2018

      Hi Betsie! Thank you so much for choosing to bless Princess with your sponsorship, and welcome to the Compassion family! Since you are so new to sponsorship, Princess’ first letter to you has not yet been received or scanned. Therefore, you are unable to see her letter in your account. It may take some time to build a regular back and forth letter writing relationship with her, but once a letter from her has been scanned into our systems, you will be able to see that it is in process. You may see this on your app or online by logging into your My Account. Once logged in, select “Write My Child” and then “My Letters”. Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Have a blessed day!

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