What can I send to my sponsored child? Can I sponsor their sibling? Can I visit my sponsored child? Here are 17 frequently asked questions from new sponsors.

1. When will my sponsored child be told about me?

It’s an exciting moment that we all wish we were there for! (You can see what happens when a child is told they’ve been sponsored here).

Your sponsored child will be told you’ve sponsored them when their local centre is notified. That could be within a few hours if internet access is available, but it could take a few weeks; it really just depends on the access to resources that the centre has. Generally, your sponsored child will be told that they’ve been sponsored within the first month of you making the commitment.

2. What should I write in my first letter?

Writing your first letter can be a little daunting. But fear not!

Like all relationship building, we suggest starting with the basics; perhaps start by sharing a few key things about yourself and some fun facts about Australia. The younger the child, the more basic it can be.

We encourage you to include an image of yourself, your family and maybe even a pet. Even better—you could take a selfie with your sponsored child’s photo and tell them that you consider them as part of your family!

Don’t forget to ask them about themselves. You could try asking:

  • Who is in your family?
  • What is your favourite subject at school?
  • What do you like to do outside of school?
  • What do you like about the Compassion program?
  • What is your neighbourhood like?
  • What is your favourite farm animal?
  • How’s the weather?

To draw attention to questions for your sponsored child to answer, we recommend highlighting or underlining them.

If you need any assistance, check out these great sample letters!

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

3. What can I send to my sponsored child?

You can send anything less than A4 x 6mm and paper-based. This includes cards, stickers, origami, bookmarks, photos, postcards. We can only accept these types of gifts to pass on.

If you’d like to send a larger gift, please consider giving a child gift, birthday gift or family gift. This enables local staff to consult with your sponsored child and their family and buy a gift locally that meets their needs and blesses them greatly. 100 per cent of your gift goes to your sponsored child; there is no amount withheld for administration from these gift types.

Speaking of gifts, if you are looking for Christmas gift ideas, consider a Gift of Compassion! It truly is a gift with global impact. Please note, this gift is not specifically for your sponsored child, but will meet the urgent needs of families around the world living in poverty.

4. How long until I receive a letter after first sponsoring?

You should usually receive a letter from your sponsored child within the first two months of commencing sponsorship. Sometimes letters may take a little longer than this if there has been a recent crisis or natural disaster. The first letter is often a basic introductory message sharing some information about your sponsored child, their family and the area they live in. The letters tend to get more personalised and unique the more you get to know one another and the more your sponsored child increases their literacy skills.

Some Compassion centres have children waiting for sponsors write this letter before they are officially sponsored and save it on file, so that you don’t have to wait as long for an initial letter when they get the good news!

We encourage you to write back as soon as you can; there’s no better time to start building your relationship than right away! You can get started here.

5. Can I write straight away?

Absolutely! You can do this by logging in to My Account and following the prompts. If you prefer to write on paper by hand, just be sure to include your sponsor number and your sponsored child’s number, so we can ensure your letter gets to the right place.

6. Can I visit my sponsored child?

Yes, you can!

Our Field Experience team needs a minimum notice of two months to plan a visit for you to visit your sponsored child. This ensures that we have everything in place to protect children (e.g. police checks, WWCC), and it gives the local staff time to prepare for the visit.

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

Alternatively, you can join a Compassion trip with other passionate supporters or coordinate a Compassion visit during a trip you have planned yourself. You will be accompanied by a Compassion staff member from the relevant country for the duration of the visit with your sponsored child, to help you with translation and any relevant cultural expectations.

Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is restricted at this time. Learn more about changes to our trips here. Until travel resumes, we want to bring the field to you. Here you can find an update on COVID-19, get a glimpse into the Child Sponsorship Program and read an encouraging story from each country we work in.

7. What does my sponsored child actually receive with my contribution?

Your sponsored child receives your financial support through attending a Compassion child development centre, run in partnership with a local church partner. It should be noted that support is varied from country to country. For example, nutrition and supplementary food support may be more important in Africa, where as access to a safe place to play may be more important in South and Central America.

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

Local church partners determine the needs of their local community, and therefore your support ensures that children are given appropriate contextual assistance based on their individual needs.

Children in the program will receive:

  • access to healthcare (at least one check-up each year and further medical support if needed)
  • a healthy snack or meal each time they attend the centre
  • hygiene and sanitation training for children (and often parents and caregivers as well)
  • opportunities to hear the gospel in a manner appropriate for their age and cultural context
  • personal care, support and discipleship from local workers
  • financial assistance given for school fees, books, uniforms etc if necessary
  • vocational or tertiary education to ensure they are well prepared for employment and economic self-sufficiency

8. How much does my sponsor child receive from my donation?

For every dollar you donate, approximately 80 cents benefits Compassion-assisted children through their participation in the Compassion program. The remaining 20 cents goes to fundraising and administration costs in Australia. We’re strongly committed to financial transparency and accountability; that’s why our financial reports are online and we encourage you to check them out.

9. When will my first contribution come out?

If you’re giving by credit card, your contribution will come out on the 20th of the month.

If you’re giving by direct debit, it will come out on the 21st (or the following business day, if the 21st falls on a weekend or public holiday).

10. Can I sponsor their sibling too?

Generally, only one child per family is registered with Compassion to ensure as many families within the community are reached as possible.

However, in cases where families are significantly in need or vulnerable, more than one child may be registered at the discretion of the local centre staff.

We cannot request specific children to be registered, but we encourage you to send a family gift to help meet the family’s needs. You could also include your sponsored child’s siblings in the letters you write and include small, paper-based gifts for them, too.

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

11. What’s a family gift?

When you give to the family of your sponsored child, your family gift is used to assist the greatest family need—whether that’s household food supplies, education resources, or even supplies to assist with running a local business. You can give a family gift up to four times per year, to a maximum total of AU$1500 (the minimum amount is AU$20)

100 per cent of the gift amount is given to the child and their family; no percentage is taken from the gift towards administration costs.

After this gift is received, you should receive a thank-you letter within six to eight months of sending the gift!

12. If I missed a payment, does that mean my sponsored child didn’t receive help?

If you miss a contribution, your sponsorship will be covered that month from Compassion’s Unsponsored Children Fund to ensure that your sponsored child, and their local centre, does not miss out on financial support. Rest assured, your sponsored child will not lose their place in the sponsorship program and they won’t go without.

Once you are able to catch up your contribution amount, this will backfill the covered contribution.

If you are in financial difficulty, we have many options to cover or assist with contributions—please call us!

13. Why does a child leave the program?

There are many reasons as to why a child could leave the sponsorship program.

This could be because the child graduates, the family’s economic situation has improved so that they don’t need assistance, or the child could leave to pursue a career opportunity before they graduate.

The expected graduation age is usually 22, although it can be around 18 to 19 in some countries.

Other reasons include moving away with no local church centre available in the new location, or unfortunately because of centre closure, non-compliance with program policies, unexplained absence or if the family is no longer interested.

If your sponsored child leaves the program before their graduation date, you will receive a letter or phone call from our team to let you know and discuss next steps.

14. What does ‘Where Most Needed’ mean?

Where Most Needed is one of Compassion's Critical Needs funds. Critical Needs and the Child Sponsorship Program work side-by-side to equip Compassion's local church partners with the resources needed to provide holistic support and long-term, customised solutions for children, their families and communities.

While the Child Sponsorship Program connects one child with one sponsor, contributions to Where Most Needed are not directed to one child, but provide essential support to thousands of Compassion registered children when they need it most.

Every child in the Compassion program will benefit from Critical Needs at some point during their time in the program, which is why we are so grateful for supporters going over and beyond their regular sponsorship contribution when possible.

16 Questions Most New Sponsors Ask, Answered

15. How can I access my tax receipt?

Your tax receipt will be made available by mid-July each year and will be accessible in My Account.

16. What if I need to change my contribution details?

You can update personal details such as your address, payment method, or affiliated church in My Account! Alternatively, you can call us on 1300 22 44 53 and we can make these changes on your behalf.

17. Can I give a one-time donation on top of my sponsorship?

Yes! If you would prefer to give a one-time donation to support children living in poverty, you can give to Critical Needs. When you give a donation to a Critical Need, your gift gives a child living in poverty life-saving support. Poverty leaves children without any safety net or protection, so when unforeseen circumstances arise, there is often little hope for recovery. You can give an online donation today and make a significant impact!

All donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia. To claim a tax deduction at the end of the financial year, all you need to do is keep an eye on your email. Your receipt for your tax return will be emailed to you by our friendly team. Thank you for your generosity—your gifts and donations truly make an impact.

Words by: Katie Brassell, Ellyse McCallum

Photos by: Ben Adams, Tim Coulson