Child sponsorship - Does it work?

Submitted by KrisJ on February 21, 2009 - 9:17pm.

"Child sponsorships programs are big money machines that provide organizations with easy cash flow. It does not matter whether the product is any good. Most of them are not"

I read a blog recently about child sponsorship. I'd like to know if there's any aid workers out there who share the same sentiments as the following. Likewise I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with differing opinions on these views

Please contact me on this blog or email at

"I've worked in the developing world for many years, and up to recently was a field leader in a large American based child sponsorship organization. I have recently resigned because my conscience could no longer handle an increasing organizatinal focus on what is good for the organization rather than what is best for the child and the community. One local leader of the organization told me yesterday that "the sanitised visions of child development organizations, (both faith based and secular)is making them increasingly irrelevant to successful and sustainable development. They worship their own mythologies."

Most of child development programs are driven by high powered successful marketing programs that tell the donor what the donor wants to hear and so alleviate their guilt ("we have so much and they have so little").

These programs also reflect the imbedded American viewpoint that we can save the world and once people understand that we have all the real wisdom; then they will love us and our programs will make sense to them. The old America Knows Best scenario that continues to be played out around the world. In other words, the flogging will continue until morale improves.

Jobs are hard to come by, and so therefore it is very difficult to get at the real information because field workers who know the truth will lose their jobs if they come public. The spout the party line publically in English while switching to the vernacular when talking to their support group.

Child sponsorships programs are big money machines that provide organizations with easy cash flow. It does not matter whether the product is any good. Most of them are not, despite the rosy media releases The marketing team decides what is good program and the stories that need to be told to bring in the money. The Lords of Poverty hand out the crumbs to the peasants and donors feel good.

There are better ways to bring sustainable development down to the poorest of the poor than child sponsorship. I urge readers to put their emotions aside and do some good research on pros and cons. When I first became entered this industry (and it is an industry, not a "ministry"), I drank the grape juice completely and was a strong advocate of what I was doing. But my experiences over the years have brought me to the conviction that child sponsorship as we know have it is one of the evils of our age. They keep people in poverty, they do not liberate children and communnities on the long term despite the trophy stories that are paraded before the public from time to tome. Enough said.. Maybe I should write a book."

Submitted by SharliB on March 17, 2009 - 9:34pm.

I enjoyed reading your post, very enlightening. I must say though that I sponsor a child through my church. I have visited my little boy twice and have also experienced the joy from the other children when they receive their letters from their sponsors.

Sponsorship is hard in any third-world country because what we believe they need is not necessarily the truth. We want to send them so much "stuff" forgetting that what they really need is to learn to live and sustain life in their own country. I think as Americans we can believe the lie that the american way is best, when in fact it is not working that well in this country either.

So yes I agree there are probably some sponsorship organizations that are taking advantage of the situation and gaining "cash flow" from willing people, but there are also some very honest organizations who do put the child first.

Submitted by andrew_c on March 23, 2009 - 1:20pm.

There is a discussion on sponsorship here:
about the differences between all the child sponsorship charities in the UK including ones which include children living in an area versus ones where the sponsorship pays for giving a home to an orphan. Happy reading.

There is a tension between sponsors who want to help a child and many charities which want funds to do community projects.


Submitted by socialmaker on December 1, 2010 - 2:47pm.

SOS Children (or SOS Children's Villages) works in 123 countries and offer child sponsorship in over 100. This includes most of the developing world. SOS is primarily an orphan charity, caring for orphaned and abandoned children (Aids Orphans, Street children, war orphans, disaster orphans etc.), and preventing family break up. I would love to work with them as long as they can supply Global Visas to every place on the planet. I love traveling - this is my thing.

Submitted by jimdiggerson on September 16, 2009 - 10:42am.

Very helpful information on Child Sponsorship. I'm going to prepare my paper on this topic. I have already surfed all world wide network trying to find materials on this topic and finally I got it. Thanks, it will help with my paper writing in college in some days.

Submitted by Paula jenna on January 11, 2010 - 6:41am.

Good points make, I think more people should not hide the fact that this is happening. I think most people know this but just do not think about it much to be frankly honest. I think some how this needs to be brought to the attention of people some how.

Thanks for sharing your article.

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Submitted by seychelles on December 8, 2010 - 10:35am.

Good point you put forward in your article, but also as you rightly point out in your intro, it's not true in all situations. As with all things there are the good ones, the not-so-good and the downright cheats and cons. So on that note, people should look carefully before they sponsor and they should do their due diligence before parting with their money. Check out the organization.

For example I know of such programs that work in the the Seychelles that are trust-worthy as I do myself sponsor children there on the island of Mahe and also on Praslin and La Digue. But it's worth noting that some organizations may take advantage of the situation, especially the bigger ones and such a program could well become their piggy bank!!! So beware...

My preferred beach in Seychelles has fine white sand, deep blue sea and great budget hotels. Check out Praslin hotels for your beach holiday

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