In college I worked for a children’s ministry that promised more than it actually delivered. When I found out? I quit.
I quit on a job. I quit on trust.
I swore I’d never be fooled again.
Many years later, working as a recording artist, Compassion International asked me to go on a trip with them. They wanted me to tell my audiences about their ministry to children and ask my fans to become child sponsors. And I said no.
Definitely not. Never again.
But after four years of their
nagging invitations, just to make them stop, I agreed to take that trip after all. “Just give us a chance.”
I flew to El Salvador a skeptic. Before I gave my influence and money to Compassion – before I could trust – I needed answers.
Do you have questions about Compassion? You should. Before you give to any child sponsorship organization here are three important questions you should ask first:
#1 How do you define “beneficiary?”
If I were to pass away my wife and kids would receive money from an insurance company. The company calls them beneficiaries because they receive the benefits from my policy.
The people who receive the benefits of a charity’s hard work are also called beneficiaries. But not all child sponsorship organizations define “beneficiary” the same way.
One child sponsorship organization defines “beneficiary” as a person spotted in the community at least once every 90 days by a charity worker.
At the other end of the spectrum, Compassion International defines a beneficiary as a child who receives cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual assistance at a Compassion partner church (aka “center”) for a minimum of four to seven hours every week, depending upon the child’s age.
#2 What benefits can you guarantee my sponsored child will receive?
Every child sponsorship organization provides more for some children than for others in their care. One child needs to meet with a psychologist. Another needs surgery. Yet another has a learning disability requiring a specialist. But every child is guaranteed certain benefits from being part of a child sponsorship program.
One child sponsorship organization guarantees every child in their program will receive letters if their sponsor writes them. There is no other guaranteed benefit to a sponsored child in that organization’s program.
Compassion International guarantees that every one of its 1.4 million sponsored children around the world receive proper nutrition, free education, free healthcare and will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not detailed enough? Here are just some of the many specific benefits every child in Compassion’s program is guaranteed to receive:
- Christmas gift
- birthday celebration
- school uniform (if required) and supplies
- annual medical checkup
- hot meals at their Compassion center
- glasses, medicine, surgery when needed
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- clean water
- malaria net when needed
#3 What are the proven results of your sponsorship program?
More than $3 billion are given to child sponsorship organizations every year, yet until recently no one had proven that any of them were making a difference. Dr. Bruce Wydick, professor of economics at the University of San Francisco, changed that recently with the publication of his groundbreaking research.
Dr. Wydick asked several prominent child sponsorship organizations to participate in a longterm study that would measure the effectiveness of their programs. Only Compassion International said yes.
10,144 formerly sponsored children from Compassion’s programs in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the Philippines and Uganda participated in the study that sought to document the impact of child sponsorship on education level, type of employment and status in their communities. Dr. Wydick’s study proved that, on average, children sponsored through Compassion International were…
…than their unsponsored peers. (Learn more about Wydick’s findings here.)
When I Asked Questions…
I got answers. And the anger melted, skepticism gave way to passion. I was convinced that Compassion International effectively releases children from poverty. So convinced that I canceled the cable and made a whole host of other lifestyle changes so that more children could have their lives changed by Compassion’s ministry. So convinced that I not only began asking my audiences to sponsor children but I started taking bloggers overseas to see Compassion’s ministry, to be convinced and ask their readers to sponsor children.
You’re right to have questions. Have my answers satisfied? Are you convinced?
I’m in Nicaragua right now with a group of bloggers getting answers to their questions this week. Go here to see Compassion through their stories, pictures and videos.