Your Best Letter-writing Questions and Answers of the Year

This year, you asked some amazing letter-writing questions. Seriously, like things I’ve been wondering myself. And we found answers from the best people, because they’re the ones who have actually been shipping, handling, translating and even recipients of your words of love.

We took the questions you’ve had on your hearts, showed them to our international staff, and spent a whole year answering them. The results were really exciting. I mean we heard from actual alumni why your letters were important to them, and from staff, what things could help accelerate the shipping or translation process. And we even answered one of your most asked question of all, “How long does it take for Compassion to deliver my letter?”

Here are your best letter-writing questions and answers of 2018!

Your Best Letter-Writing Questions and Answers of the Year

What if I’ve never written?

On our Instagram, April asked about how to get started if you’ve never written.

“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

With some great advice from sponsors who’ve also struggled to get started started, Jen answered…

April, you’re not alone. So many sponsors have been in your shoes…

“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.” — Jen

What do the kids think of our letters?

“Are sponsored children truly happy to receive letters?” — @agrant302

First, we started with local pastors and asked them to share their experiences with the children and their letters.

“The children are always excited when they receive a letter from their sponsor. They dance around and show the letter to their friends and teachers. The letters make the world a little smaller for them as it brings their sponsor close to them. Sponsor letters can make a lifelong impact on the life of a child. The letters encourage the children to work harder at the center and inspire them to reach their dreams.” — Pastor Kwasi Edudzi Aziakpati, Togo

Even better, though, let’s hear from actual alumni about what they think of your letters.

Watch Sponsor Letters: Conversations with Compassion Alumni and subscribe to Compassion YouTube for more stories.

But could your letters affect the whole community?

In answering how your Compassion letters are delivered, Esinam, Director of the Compassion center in the Tongu area of Ghana, says,

“When children get letters, the whole community hears about it and rejoices. Dove is a very small town that is not known to even some of her surrounding towns. So, for someone abroad to think about a child in Dove and write to that child, it is a very big thing for them.

“We thank the sponsors for their support and the gifts they send to these children. It is a life-changing opportunity.”

What should sponsors write about?

In our blog featuring the answers from our tutors, Arial asks,

“What do the kids enjoy hearing about in letters?” – Arial

Glenda [tutor] shares,

“First of all, don’t worry about whether your letter is too short … We have taught the beneficiary children that the content of their sponsors’ letters is very important. Sometimes, it may be a three-line-paragraph letter, but it is still very important. Children love to hear from their sponsors’ daily activities, vacations, family events and mostly about pets.”

Your Best Letter-Writing Questions and Answers of the Year translators

A great addition to this discussion comes from a post that features answers from translators.

“I think that the sponsor should put himself in the child’s shoes and they should write about whatever thing they would like to hear about if they were a sponsored child. The main purpose of the letters is to build a relationship between each sponsor and his sponsored child.” – Maria Catalina Morales, El Salvador

Are there topics I should avoid?

What kinds of things are NOT good to include in letters to the kids? What do the kids want to know about sponsors’ lives? – Jill Johnson

In our aptly titled blog post, What Can I Share in Letters to the Child I Sponsor?, Shaina says this:

“First, let me state that this is not meant in any way to make you feel guilty. You are already doing an incredible thing by sponsoring a child. This information is just to help you be wise in how you communicate with the precious child you have chosen.”

She then goes on to share topics like money, food, possessions and other economically dividing subjects. For the full list and explanations, give a read to What Can I Share in Letters to the Child I Sponsor?.

Your Best Letter-Writing Questions and Answers of the Year

When will they get my letters, and what slows down the process?

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

To answer Jenna’s question, we turned to our Correspondence and Mail Processing Teams in Colorado.

“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 [processing team].

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.

Your Best Letter-Writing Questions and Answers of the Year

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

Yvonne’s question echos what many others asked us throughout the year, so we turned to our processing team to share some insight.

Aaron [processing team] 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.”

And finally, how often should I write the child I sponsor?

“How often should I write?” – Brian

Eryn’s been fielding questions and answers from you to our international staff all year and has this to say about how often you should write:

Your words are treasured no matter how often you share them. However, because letter delivery happens at least once a month* at Compassion centers, we recommend you write once a month. This means that once a month when letters are passed out to all the children, you get to put a smile on their faces because they know their new friend cares for them!”

Whatever questions you may have, we’re always here for you. And don’t let them stop you from sending encouragement to that kiddo across the world. It could be life-changing!

Send some words of love to the child you sponsor.

Write a quick letter >

Have more questions? Comment below so we can answer them for you!

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Martha McLendon February 13, 2019

    I just filled in my introduction letter to the child I sponsored. Edited without a proble, but would not send. Please help. Also, are copies of the letters sent online kept so that we can retrieve them? Or just print the completed form? This is my first attempt, please help.

    1. Avatar
      Sierra February 13, 2019

      Hi Martha! Thank you so much for reaching out to us with this concern. Did you receive an error message when you tried to send your letter, or did you simply lose it? If you lost track of it, it should still be listed in the “My Drafts” portion of your account. Also, yes, a copy of every letter you both send and receive from your child are stored online in the “My Letters” portion of your account!

  2. Avatar
    Carla January 15, 2019

    Thanks for your response. When you say it takes ‘2-3 maximum to be delivered, is this weeks or months?

    1. Christina
      Christina January 15, 2019

      Carla, I’m sorry for any confusion there! We meant to say it may take a maximum of 2 to 3 months and as little as 2 to 3 weeks :). There are many variables involved with each individual letter, but we will ensure your letters are processed and delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  3. Avatar
    Carla Skinner January 9, 2019

    I am having some difficulty finding a link to the latest guidelines related to the current letter writing system. I know there have been many changes over the years and a move to the digital system (I am a previous sponosr). I see mentions about everything having to be ‘scan friendly’ since ALL letters and attachments are now scanned. Can you please provide a link to the current information. Also, what is the approximate response time to receive letters from your sponsored child? When I sponsored previously the wait time was over 6 months and I’m wondering what the current wait time is. Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon January 10, 2019

      Good morning Carla,

      Thank you so much for inquiring about this! You can see our updated writing guidelines here: https://www.compassion.com/letter-writing/tips-for-mailing-small-gifts.htm. In addition, we typically now see letters take about 2-3 maximum to be delivered. It is possible a letter may have an issue and may take longer, but it a lot less common for that to happen. We have also see letters go through in as little as two to three weeks. 🙂 Please let us know if you have any other questions! Blessings! -Shannon

  4. Avatar
    Marilyda January 8, 2019

    Barbara, I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s move! I hope you are surrounded by people who make you feel loved and cared for in this difficult time. I pray you are comforted by Jesus and his church. Hold onto his promises!

    Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    My mom moved to heaven December 22, 2001, and I cling to this promise.

  5. Avatar
    Barbara Lesley December 23, 2018

    A difficult question: How would you suggest I let our sponsored children know that my husband has moved to heaven recently?

    1. Susan Sayler
      Susan Sayler December 26, 2018

      Barbara, I am so sorry to hear of your loss, especially this time of year. I am praying for the comfort and peace of our Lord Jesus to surround you in this time. I normally recommend being honest with your children about what happened. Something like you have written above would be fine. Assure your child that your husband knew the Lord and is with Jesus now. Ask for your child’s prayers as many of the children pray daily for their sponsor and relish the chance to pray specifically. God bless!

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