Child sponsorship is based on a community development model, whereby whole communities benefit from your generous support.
Child Sponsorship is a house-hold term in Australia and for many people World Vision Australia is what jumps to mind when they hear it. Recently there has been some discussion about World Vision and child sponsorship – how does it work? Does the money get to the child? How much do I earn as CEO? Transparency is at the heart of what we do and with this in mind I would like to bust some myths and let you know what the future of child sponsorship looks like.
Let’s start with the one I get asked about frequently – my salary. I earn $255,805 and drive a Volkswagen Golf. In line with other charity CEOs I do earn a salary that reflects my responsibilities but I don’t have a private jet or a gold-plated toilet seat. All information about what I earn is published and available from our Annual Report.
So how does child sponsorship work? There was a time many, many years ago when World Vision’s sponsorship program was based on direct benefit. The child you sponsored would directly receive your monthly donation. While this model was effective for the individual child, it didn’t change the poverty and situation surrounding them.
Therefore, we moved to what’s called a ‘community development model’ whereby your child, their family and their community benefit from your sponsorship. Working with community members and leaders, World Vision tailors programs to address varying causes of poverty and build capacity. For some communities this can be lack of access to education, immunisation, or agricultural training. For others it could be HIV/AIDS awareness, domestic violence and early child marriage. We need to address the root causes of poverty to create lasting and sustainable change.
Child sponsorship lifts entire communities out of poverty, but you as a sponsor maintain a one-on-one relationship with your sponsor child. One of the benefits of this is getting to write to your child, and, of course, receive letters in return. While this may sound as straight forward as Australia Post’s “next-day delivery”, it is a complicated process with many steps.
The pen-pal relationship between sponsor and child has been part of World Vision’s DNA for more than 40 years, but we have listened to our supporters and recognised that the digital age requires more from us as an organisation. Sponsors have told us they want more connection and information about their sponsored child and the community they live in; they want to know they’re making a difference.
In the last two years we have been working on a new initiative called Child Sponsorship 2.0 that will see the connection between sponsor and child completely transformed. Through the online child sponsorship portal, supporters will have access to video greetings, stories, progress updates, and photos of their child/children and their community.
Approximately 60% of World Vision supporters currently have Child Sponsorship 2.0 content – and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. By the end of July, 2014 we anticipate 90% of sponsors will have received at least one Child Sponsorship 2.0 update (except from those Area Development Projects that are close to completion). Here’s an example of what our supporters will find on their portal:
I have seen child sponsorship change the lives and futures of countless children and their communities. One of my most recent experiences was travelling to Mongolia with World Vision Ambassador Mel Doyle who was visiting her sponsor child Kulan. When told about the 3000 children in Kulan’s area who weren’t sponsored Mel asked me to describe the impact this has on the community. My answer was that when World Vision sets out working with a community, we aim to leave the area after 15 years. In that time we need to have improved healthcare, schooling, and job prospects among many other things. Unless we’re achieving this – as much as we’ve helped Kulan – we’re not giving these communities the tools to support themselves for the long term, and the best possible chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.