Child sponsorship is a popular way of fundraising by a number of organizations. Many donors are attracted to the opportunity to select a specific child, post his or her picture on the fridge, and receive occasional progress reports.
But what is behind this picture on the fridge? I challenge you to reflect on some implications of child sponsorship by putting it in your own context. Imagine that you are considering running a sponsorship program in order to raise funds to do a Community Care program or Food Bank outreach in your town. How would you answer the following questions?
- Would you propose using a child sponsorship approach in (fill in your hometown) in order to raise money for a community outreach project? Why/Why not?
- More specifically, would you take pictures of all the children of the families in need, collect stories about them, and post them on the internet? How would that fit with their rights to privacy and with their sense of dignity?
- If your program is not able to meet the needs of all the children (as is the case for most programs), what do you think will be the impact of those children that are not chosen to be helped?
- How can you best help the needy children? Would it be limited to specific gifts/services for those who are chosen? What about the other children in any given family? How would you minister the family as a whole?
- What do you imagine would be the administrative cost and complexities involved in developing an orderly system in order to get the names of needy children, take their pictures (what about the children who happened to not be available on the picture taking day?), acquire their stories (assume also that a number are recent immigrants and do not speak English), translate, format and print the stories, match them with the donors, send the stories to the donors, and every few months or a year later track down these children again in order to get updates, send them out, etc.? Imagine doing this for children living in remote communities barely accessible by road.
- Should families/children in Africa be treated differently than those in your hometown? If so, why?
Many of the above questions have led CRWRC to decide against using child sponsorship as a fundraising approach. Instead, CRWRC offers the Free A Family© program. When you donate to Free A Family, you contribute to holistic development programs that help families in communities free themselves from chronic poverty. In return, every three months all donors to a particular region receive a progress update of the same representative family — a real-life illustration of how your gift makes a difference. Intrigued? For more information go to Free a Family.
Please note that some organizations which offer child sponsorship as a means of raising funds, use the donations received to carry out effective development programs that benefit families and whole communities. You are encouraged to check websites for a more in-depth understanding of their ministries.