Child sponsorship has grown into a hugely popular form of charitable giving presumably because donors can see exactly what their money is being used for and they can share in the long term personal development of sponsored children as they grow up. The regular two-way communication process is also extremely rewarding for all concerned.
The concept can trace its roots back to the Spanish Civil War
John Langdon-Davies, and aid worker, Eric Muggeridge, established ‘Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain’ after seeing children orphaned by the conflict, Set up in 1937, the organisation provided food, shelter and clothing to children whose lives had been disrupted by the war. Initially, donors in the UK were asked to give a shilling a day to provide essentials for one child and to write regular letters to show that someone, somewhere really cared.
The organisation still exists today and is one of the largest child sponsorship charities in the World. Meanwhile, it has been joined by other similar organisations, some large and some small. Many aspiring child sponsors often ask which are the best charities to use and what factors to look out for when choosing one to donate through. There are about half a dozen major ones operating in the UK and roughly twice as many smaller ones.
The more experienced charities all testify to the fact that actual donation to a single child or his/her family is usually counter-productive as it upsets others in the community who are not so fortunate. Also, funds provided this way often end up being used wastefully. This is why the major charities mostly tend to aggregate individual donations into larger sums which can be used for larger, more effective projects which benefit the community as a whole. These may take the form, for example, of facilities for clean water, education, healthcare or sanitation.
Many child sponsorship charities concentrate solely on orphans and abandoned children in poorer countries while others may have a strong religious bias, Christian or otherwise. Many atheists, for example, might choose a secular organisation which does not attempt to impart a religious message alongside charitable donations.
Finally, prospective sponsors need to be vigilant about excessive administration fees. As a rough benchmark, any well-run child sponsorship charities ought to be able to send at least 80 % of receipts to the front line after allowing for staff and other costs.