What is child sponsorship?
Solving extreme poverty starts with empowering people to help themselves. That’s why child sponsors partner with communities to fix the root causes of poverty for children, with essentials like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, protection and economic opportunities.
As a World Vision Child Sponsor, you can make a unique double impact – on a child and their community – so both can thrive.
The impact of child sponsorship
How does child sponsorship work?
Child Sponsorship is an opportunity to personally connect with a child, family, and community in need. You’ll empower them and their whole community to work on lasting solutions to break free from poverty, for good.
Here’s how our approach to child sponsorship works:
We are community-led: We work hand-in-hand with the community to fix the root causes of poverty – so every child can grow into who God created them to be.
We are child-focused: We ensure children are empowered to develop healthy minds, bodies, and spirits, so they can achieve long-term success for themselves and their community.
We maximise impact: We combine your monthly donations with those of other sponsors of that community to make the biggest impact on the worst problems children face. In fact, because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more benefit, too.
Empower a child and their community to change their future
Note: You will be redirected to your country's support office to complete the sponsorship process.
Child sponsorship works
Child Sponsorship targets the root causes of children’s suffering and empowers children and their communities to break free from poverty. We know it works, because independent research proves it.
In the places where we work:
Kids have clean water
Last year, we reached more than half a million people in our sponsorship communities with safe water.
Kids are healthier
Over the last ten years, 92% of severely malnourished children we treated in our sponsorship communities have made a full recovery
Babies have safer births
Last year in Mauritania, 74% of babies’ births in our sponsorship communities were guided by a skilled birth attendant, compared to just 30% among families in the nation’s other poorest areas.
Kids are succeeding in school
Schools using our literacy programme in Bangladesh saw children’s reading comprehension improve by 74% compared to only 5% in schools without the programme.
Kids are growing up in safer communities
Last year, half a million people in our sponsorship communities learned how to access child-protection services and information.
Families can break the cycle of poverty
Last year, nearly 1.5 million people in our sponsorship communities participated in local savings groups, helping them to become financially self-sufficient and provide for their children long term.
According to a study by the University of North Carolina, 8 in 10 of the wells we drilled in Ghana are still providing clean water after nearly two decades – that’s 33% higher than the industry average.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I sponsor a child through World Vision?
Because together, we can make a real difference! If you're considering sponsorship, you already want to help change lives. Sponsorship makes it possible for you to give vulnerable children fuller lives and better futures. You'll see the transformation for yourself as you receive regular updates, and you can build a real, personal connection with a child in need.
How is my sponsorship donation used?
Your donations are pooled with those of sponsors of other children in the same area and used to meet the greatest needs of your sponsored child's community. It could be safe water, nourishing food, better healthcare, or education. By sponsoring, you also help keep children safe while getting them ready to participate in shaping their own future.
To effectively combat child vulnerability, it’s important to deal with both symptoms and causes—your support enables children to overcome the barriers they face and reach their God-given potential.
How does my sponsored child benefit?
- Your sponsored child will experience a fuller, happier, healthier and safer life.
- Regular monitoring lets us check their progress and intervene appropriately when necessary.
- Your messages bring them hope and happiness, and learning to read those messages increases their skills and builds confidence.
- It’s not only their physical safety—we provide the safe, nurturing space for them to explore, develop and grow spiritually.
- Their hopes and dreams become a reality as they watch their community transform into a healthier and safer place.
What makes World Vision’s approach unique?
For more than 70 years, World Vision has been working in the places where it is hardest to be a child to break the cycle of poverty. Over that time, we have learned that to really improve a child’s life, we need to improve their community too. The root causes that threaten children’s futures are complex and solving them requires strengthening their whole community. We work to equip children, families and communities with the knowledge, skills, resources and relationships they need to overcome the barriers that children face – and because we empower children and their community, the changes we make together last.
The changes that sponsorship brings go even deeper than the ones you can see. Sponsorship creates a unique connection that can build a child’s confidence, happiness and hope. Knowing they have a sponsor who cares can have a huge impact on a child. Your friendship can give them the hope and encouragement they need to thrive. And as you see the difference you’re making for your child and their community, you’ll find your life changed for the better too.
What does it mean to be a World Vision Child Sponsor?
When you sponsor a child, you can help to change their world. World Vision’s child sponsorship programme helps children living in disadvantaged regions to escape poverty.
Experience has taught us that the best way to change a child’s life is to transform the world in which they live – their family, their community and the local area.
As a child sponsor, you partner with us as we work with local families, community groups and governments to break the cycle of poverty and create long-term change. Using your donations, we identify the causes of the child’s poverty and vulnerability, and create development projects designed to address them.
Our goal is that all children in the community will benefit from our work, which can include improved healthcare, education, water, sanitation and food. There are many stories of sponsored children who’ve grown up to live lives they hardly dared to dream of – thanks to generous people like you.
Each sponsorship project is designed specifically to meet the needs of that community, but can include work to provide:
Clean water and sanitation
Access to clean water, toilets and hygiene education give your sponsored child better health and more time and energy to learn.
Health and nutrition
Quality local health services and health and nutrition education for families give your sponsored child the chance to grow up strong and protected from preventable illness.
Food and agriculture
Skills for families to grow more crops and better protect the environment give your sponsored child the food they need to lead a healthy, active life.
Education and child rights
Quality education and protecting child rights give your sponsored child knowledge, skills and freedom to build a bright future.
By supporting communities and families to improve their incomes, your sponsored child will be able to get the life essentials they need to reach their full potential.
And, if you choose to, there are many ways for you to get involved and help improve the world for these children.
Will my sponsorship contributions go directly to one child?
While each World Vision Child Sponsor is connected with one child, we make the most of your donations by pooling funds to invest in long-term community development programmes that transform whole areas into places where children can thrive. By doing this we know that for every child you sponsor, four more children directly benefit, too.
How are children chosen for sponsorship?
In every case, it’s the community members themselves who nominate vulnerable children to become sponsored and represent their community. And it’s their parents or guardians who then register them in the programme. Children then wait for a sponsor to choose them, or they get to choose their own sponsor at a choosing event.
Kids in the community who don’t have sponsors still benefit from sponsorship-funded community improvements like clean water, health care, education, job opportunities, and more.
What does my sponsorship mean to my sponsored child?
Your donations help provide a better life for your sponsored child and their peers and transforms their future in ways they didn't think possible. Our research shows your sponsorship and the connection your sponsored child feels can build hope, happiness, and confidence. By writing letters, sending photos, and praying for your sponsored child, you have the chance to build a relationship with them that can enrich both of your lives. Your encouragement can be just as important to your sponsored child as the tangible help your donations provide.
What is World Vision Child Sponsorship?
World Vision sponsorship is an opportunity to personally connect with a child, family, and community in need. You’ll empower them to work on lasting solutions to break free from poverty, for good. You’ll watch your sponsored child grow up, see their progress, and be a part of their life. Knowing that someone far away cares about them and their future can make a life-changing difference to your sponsored child.
Our 70 years of experience has proven that the most effective way to help a child is to strengthen their whole community. And it means you help more children to thrive. We combine your monthly donations with those of other sponsors to make the biggest impact on the worst problems children face in a community. You’ll give your sponsored child and their community life-saving resources like clean water, nutritious food, health care, child protection, education, economic opportunities, and more.
Each community is different. We start by listening to communities to understand their children’s greatest needs. Then together, we develop a plan and put it into action. We also work with local organisations, churches, and governments to change systems that keep kids trapped in poverty. Our goal is children’s complete well-being – physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
Because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more will benefit, too.
How does World Vision Child Sponsorship work?
World Vision works with community representatives to identify and prioritise the needs in their area, such as clean water and education. Once this process is complete, World Vision staff and community members work together to select the most vulnerable children based on transparent local criteria. Parents and caregivers in World Vision programme areas learn about what child sponsorship is and what they can expect, and then they and their child decide if their child will take part.
Then World Vision connects you with a child who is part of the sponsorship programme. As that child's only sponsor, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them and track their progress and the difference your support is making over time. Your monthly donations become part of a powerful collective fund capable of permanently transforming your sponsored child’s community into a place that offers them the future they deserve.
World Vision works with communities to plan how to tackle the biggest challenges they face and supports them with the knowledge, skills, resources and relationships they need to put those plans in action. We work together for long-term development, usually around 15 years. That means the progress made is sustained, and continued, long after we’ve left.
Has anyone independently assessed World Vision’s child sponsorship?
From 2015-2017, four universities combined to conduct a “realist evaluation” of child sponsorship. The study found both sponsored and not sponsored children who had participated in child sponsorship programme activities in their community reported being happier, enjoying health, being more hopeful, and having higher levels of school attendance. The research also found that World Vision’s child sponsorship programmes foster collaboration and build bridges that strengthen communities, and found positive benefits for children and communities, and increased social capital in fragile contexts.
This research was part of a larger four-year project, which covered programmes in nine countries, and was conducted in partnership with RMIT University, Deakin University, SOAS University of London, and Stellenbosch University.
Aren’t there better ways to raise money for children in poverty, which don’t “reinforce paternalism”?
We wish the world was just and equitable, and that everyone had the same chances to thrive. However, some of us have been born into countries and circumstances that give us advantages that others do not have. We believe that everyday people can play an important role in addressing this injustice effectively and respectfully, through an ongoing exchange based on a one-to-one relationship. This approach is not without challenges, but other ways of transferring assets and power from the richer world to vulnerable communities also face problems.
Child sponsorship, on the other hand, provides long-term, sustained support for genuine development. It allows us to invest in local experts who can work for the development of the communities they live in. It creates a direct link for the sponsor, who can choose to build a meaningful relationship with a child and family and find out more about the issues in the world around the child they sponsor.
Our innovative Chosen programme is proving to be a successful experiment in addressing the question of who has agency in the sponsorship relationship. In this case, it is the children who select from a pool of willing sponsors. We are finding this new paradigm is enriching the experience for both sponsors and children, and we will be doing more of it in future.
Is child sponsorship just another form of “white saviourism”?
There is the potential for aid or altruism to be infected by a sense of superiority for a donor – for child sponsorship just as for any other kind of charitable endeavour. We work hard to avoid this in practice. While we cannot know the motives for any individual sponsor’s decisions, we are convinced that the vast majority of people who sponsor children are concerned about injustice and inequity, and genuinely interested in the lives and culture of the family with whom they are connected. On the ground, 99% of the staff in our field offices are nationals of the country they are working in and programming decisions are made in the country where they are implemented. Our national leadership around the world is highly globally representative. Our sponsors come from countries across the world, as do our sponsored children. In a number of countries, residents can also sponsor children from their own country, which is empowering for everyone.
How does World Vision empower people to become independent and not need constant overseas support?
We see a world where each child experiences the fullness of life, and we know this can only be achieved by addressing the problems of poverty and injustice in a holistic way – that’s what makes World Vision unique. We bring decades of experience in three key areas needed to help children and their families to thrive: emergency relief, long-term development, and advocacy. We bring all of our skills across many areas of expertise to each community where we work, enabling us to care for children’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
We work in 100 countries around the world, and from experience we understand that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to poverty. A community’s ongoing problems cannot be solved just by providing clean water, more medicines, or a new school. We know that success can only be achieved by looking at the big picture. That’s why we start by identifying the specific, underlying causes of poverty in each community. Then we partner with the people in the community to achieve long-term solutions that will work for them.
Rather than specialising in just one area, we work to bring about change in every aspect of community life. Our holistic approach – which can include digging wells, teaching new farming skills, training community leaders, and much more – makes the difference between short-term fixes and long-term self-sufficiency.
We don’t come into a community thinking that we have all the answers. Rather, working side by side with community members and children themselves, we bring together our collective gifts and expertise. Local people become ‘owners’ of the solutions that will transform their community. Our goal is always to empower people to take the lead in their lives. In the long run, we have not really helped a child unless we’ve also strengthened their family and community to provide for his or her continuing care.