Guidelines for Healthy Sponsorship Programs
We engage in sponsorship programs because we want what’s best for children – particularly those who are vulnerable. However, like any program, sponsorship has the potential for great good and great harm. Sponsorship can be defined as any program that supports the holistic growth and development of children, families, and/or communities, typically funded by donors outside that community. Some sponsorship programs connect those donors to specific program participants, while others are more broad. Over the last decade, organizations and donors have been thinking critically about how these programs operate. While the research is limited, there is consensus among nonprofits on some areas of concern – such as child protection, financial integrity, and ethics in storytelling. Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story! There is also growing recognition of core guidelines for a healthy sponsorship program. This resource outlines those guidelines, as well as a few questions for consideration in each area. You can find additional resources in the Guidelines for Healthy Sponsorship Toolkit, Audit, and Case Studies. It is important that through the implementation of our programs, we put the best interests of those we serve as the highest priority, continually striving for program integrity and child, family, and community empowerment.
Table of Contents Guidelines..................................................................4 Toolkit......................................................................26 Audit.........................................................................33 Case Studies............................................................37
PART 1: GUIDELINES
1 HOLISTIC CARE
A healthy sponsorship program offers care that considers physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual needs of the children, families, and communities served. In addition to meeting individual needs, it recognizes children and familiesâ€™ relational needs by equipping them to have a healthy relationship with God, self, and others.
QUESTIONS Âť How does the program consider each of these needs (physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational)? Âť When children are selected for the program, are children of all abilities, races, religions, and ethnicities considered?
2 CHILD INPUT
A healthy sponsorship program allows children and their caregivers to have a voice in their participation and acts on their feedback.
QUESTIONS » Does the organization have culturally appropriate ways for children, as well as their families, peers, and other community members, to give feedback about their participation? » Do staff obtain the child’s and caregiver’s consent before sharing their stories and information with sponsors or potential sponsors? Does the child and guardian have the right to decline?
3 TRANSITIONAL PLANS
A healthy sponsorship program intentionally prepares children for a life of independence after sponsorship, and supports families and communities in preparing for a future where sponsorship is no longer necessary. It clearly communicates these plans to sponsors and program participants.
QUESTIONS Âť Can all staff members directly involved in caring for children clearly articulate the transition process and goals? Âť When a participant leaves the program, how are the sponsors kept informed and engaged with the organization? Âť How are donors and program participants informed of the transitional plan?
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY STRENGTHENING
A healthy sponsorship program aims to keep families and communities unified (or reintegrated) whenever possible. It looks at each child within the context of any family or community ties and strives to offer them tools to provide the best care possible for their children. It is also run primarily by national staff.
QUESTIONS » How does sponsorship empower a child’s family and community? » For children outside of a family, how does sponsorship help move children towards life in a family? » How does the program encourage growing independence from outside funding?
HEALTHY INTERACTION WITH CHILDREN
A healthy sponsorship program is informed by current research on adversity and attachment. It works to actively protect and strengthen healthy attachment between children and their caregivers and limit interactions between children and other program staff and participants (especially sponsors and short-term mission team members). It encourages sponsors to have a positive but realistic view of their role in the children’s lives, discouraging feelings of ownership or a “savior complex.”
QUESTIONS » How are we establishing and monitoring appropriate boundaries between children and sponsors in written communication, social media, and in-person visits? » How are we training short-term mission team members about attachment and healthy interactions with vulnerable children? » How do we equip staff and caregivers to help children, families, and communities heal from past trauma and promote resiliency?
6 CHILD PROTECTION
A healthy sponsorship program implements policies that protect children against abuse and exploitation, and promote a safe environment where they can thrive. All staff, volunteers, short-term mission team members, and anyone else who interacts with program participants should be aware of those policies and procedures, and required to comply.
QUESTIONS Âť Does our organization have and regularly review a Child Protection Policy? Âť Can everyone in the program express how they would respond immediately upon hearing or observing a concern or allegation of abuse, neglect, violence, or exploitation?
7 MONITORING AND EVALUATION
A healthy sponsorship program regularly tracks and records progress in childrenâ€™s health and development, both individually and collectively, so they can identify areas for improvement and make any necessary changes to become more effective.
QUESTIONS Âť Does our data suggest an improvement in the wellbeing of program participants over time? Âť What are the targets for the program? What specific accomplishments need to be met or progress gained for a child or family to graduate from sponsorship?
A healthy sponsorship program offers accurate information on the use of funds and doesn’t allow fundraising considerations to encourage unnecessary placement or prolonged participation in the program. The organization should be accredited by a reputable agency such as the ECFA.
QUESTIONS » Is there honesty and transparency about where and how the money is spent? » Is money spent in the best interest of the child, family, and community rather than the best interest of the sponsor or organization?
A healthy sponsorship program represents different cultures in a positive and honoring way, always striving to learn from and empower local communities. It treats national staff as cultural experts who help navigate the complexities of crosscultural ministry.
QUESTIONS Âť Do the community and national staff have a significant voice in how the program is run? Âť Do visitors receive training on how to interact with children in the program in a culturally appropriate way?
10 COMMUNICATION AND STORYTELLING
A healthy sponsorship program communicates in a way that protects and honors vulnerable children, as well as their families and communities. They do this by limiting or altering information (such as names, photos, locations, and ages) revealed about the children in their program and conveying stories with dignity.
QUESTIONS Âť Are we taking childrenâ€™s safety and privacy into account if we share their names, faces, location, or other information online, in person, or in promotional materials now or in the future? Âť Are we considering how this information might make the children or their parents feel if they saw our website or promotional materials?
PART 2: TOOLKIT
HOLISTIC CARE » [Measure Evaluation] Child Status Index » [Catholic Relief Services] OVC Wellbeing Tool
CHILD INPUT » [Philanthropy Without Borders] 5 Tips to Collect Real Feedback » [World Vision] Identification of and Listening to the Most Vulnerable Children
TRANSITIONAL PLANS » [CAFO] Family Reintegration Resource Guide and Webinar » [CAFO] Aging Out Initiative
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY STRENGTHENING » [CAFO] Empowering Elite Local Leaders to Aid in the Cause of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children » [Faith to Action] Family Strengthening to Prevent Separation
HEALTHY INTERACTION WITH CHILDREN » CAFO] The Changing Brain: Created to Heal » [CAFO] Intro to Trauma Competent Care » [Faith to Action] Short Term Missions Guidance to Support Orphans and Vulnerable Children » [SOE] OVC Guide » [CAFO] Wise Short-Term Missions
CHILD PROTECTION » [CAFO] Child Protection Webinar » [Keeping Children Safe] Child Protection Audit
MONITORING AND EVALUATION » [CAFO] Core Elements Self-Assessment
FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY » For Donors: GuideStar or Charity Navigator » For Organizations: [ECFA] Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship
CULTURAL SENSITIVITY AND EVALUATION » [Book] When Helping Hurts » [Book] Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot - And Cold - Climate Cultures
COMMUNICATION AND STORYTELLING RESPONSIBILITY » [Ethical Storytelling] Website and Podcast » [CAFO] Wise and Honoring Representations of Children in Media
A sponsorship program that follows these guidelines is well on its way towards being a healthy, sustainable model that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN Sustainable Goals). Want to go deeper? Take the Healthy Sponsorship Audit to pinpoint your program’s strengths and opportunities for growth. If you were unable to answer a question or would like more information on any of these guidelines, refer back to the Healthy Sponsorship Toolkit at the beginning of this guidebook! This toolkit is designed to give you a few simple “next steps” in the areas of growth for your program. It is a broad overview of complex topics, so we encourage you to view these resources as a springboard for growth and improvement, not as an exhaustive checklist. Our goal is to continue learning together. When we know better, we can do better!
GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY SPONSORSHIP AUDIT This audit corresponds to the Guidelines for Healthy Sponsorship Resource and Toolkit. It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete, and the benefits will be exponential! It is designed to help you take an honest look at important areas in your sponsorship program. Itâ€™s created for internal use, so be honest in your evaluation. We all have areas that need improvement, and this audit will help you increase your organizational self-awareness and identify those areas. We encourage you to have multiple employees complete this audit and revisit it regularly. Bringing others into the process can open the lines of communication among individuals and departments to bring about conversation and change.
Fully developed and implemented
Developed but not implemented
CHILD, FAMILY, AND COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT 1. We consider the physical, emotional, and relational needs of children, their families, and their community.
2.The Gospel is central to everything we do. Although faith is not required to participate in our program, the love of God and our personal relationship with Jesus informs every aspect of it. 3. We consistently offer culturallyappropriate ways for children and their caretakers, peers, and other community
members to give honest feedback about the program. 4. We use the feedback we receive to assess and improve our program on a regular basis. 5. Children, families, and staff can articulate the process and goals for those who exit the
program. 6. Sponsors are aware of the transition process and are kept informed throughout. We have procedures for transitioning the sponsor when a child exits the program. 7. Family unification is always a priority for
those in the program, whenever safe and Family & possible. Community Strengthening 8. We have a plan to support the families/ community in becoming self-sustaining and are actively working with them towards that goal. 9. All staff and short-term mission team members are appropriately trained in working with vulnerable children, especially
Healthy in the areas of trauma and attachment. Interaction 10. We have guidelines for communication with Children between sponsors and children in the
program. All participants are aware of these guidelines and have agreed to comply.
1. We have a Child Protection Policy that addresses staff and volunteer screening, training requirements, code of conduct, communication guidelines, reporting and reaction procedures, ramifications of misconduct, and an appeals process. 2. All staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders are oriented to our Child Protection Policy. They review and sign an agreement annually to abide by it and the Code of Conduct. 3. Children and families in our program are informed of the policy and their rights.
Monitoring & Evaluation
4. We monitor and evaluate the well-being and development of program participants through tools such as CSI. We regularly review the data to assess the effectiveness of our program and make appropriate changes. 5. We are accredited through a reputable agency (such as ECFA) and provide annual reports to our donors to give transparency regarding how their donations are being spent.
6. We ensure services received are based Financial Responsibility on the best interest of the child, family, and community.
7. Fundraising considerations will never encourage unnecessary placement or prolonged participation in our program.
8. National staff are leading the development and implementation of our program wherever possible. 9. We prepare visitors and short-term mission teams to interact with children in a culturally appropriate way.
10. We have protective guidelines for the personal information and photos shared of children in our program. Children, families, and Communication other program participants are asked for their & Storytelling consent before any information or photos are shared. 11. We equip visitors and short-term mission teams to share about their trip in a way that protects and honors the children in our program.
Strengthening our programs is a process, not an event, and it takes time. We encourage you to identify one area you want to grow in and take one step at a time. Each set of questions is also correlated to our Healthy Sponsorship Toolkit. There you can find curated resources to help you move forward in that specific area. If you need support, feel free to contact the CAFO team or other experts in the field. We are grateful to support and serve alongside you, as you answer the call to care for the most vulnerable. Thank you for making this world a better place for vulnerable children, families, and communities. To learn more about your organizationâ€™s strengths and areas for growth, and to learn how to improve your program, take the CAFO Core Elements Self-Assessment.
Guideline Contributors TUMAINI CENTER
PART 3: CASE STUDIES
Advice from Bethany on transitioning your sponsorship model: “If you feel the need to transition away from a typical child sponsorship model, do it! It is a model that worked in the past, but might not fit in today’s world. Discuss this openly and transparently with your donors/sponsors. They may not agree, but they will appreciate the honesty. Don’t be afraid to spend time educating your donors on the changing needs of the organization and population you are serving. Again, they may not see exactly what you mean right away, but it’s been our experience that the vast majority of donors want to see the impact of their giving, and if you communicate with them openly and frequently, they will get behind you in the changes that need to be made.”
BETHANY CHRISTIAN SERVICES Bethany believes children belong in families, not institutions. They demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families in the U.S. and around the world through quality social services. Bethanyâ€™s Family Preservation and Empowerment (FPE) Program, funded through a sponsorship model, provides families with monthly financial assistance that they use for items like nutritious food, health care, and school fees. They also provide training in life skills, business, and parenting. Social workers provide ongoing case management, tools and resources to families. Bethanyâ€™s unique sponsorship model supports the entire family rather than just an individual child, helping families grow stronger so they can stay together. Historically, Bethany has had a mixed sponsorship model - in some countries sponsorship was child-specific, while other countries had a family focus. In 2016, a restructure of the sponsorship program moved Bethany fully into the family sponsorship model. This transition created opportunities to educate and share authentically with their donor base. Quarterly communications and updates from the field provide sponsors insight into Bethanyâ€™s work and the lives of families they support. Social workers write updates on each family in the FPE program, based on their ongoing visits and communications with families. Donors respond with extra giving when additional needs are documented, and celebrate with the families they support once goals are met. Strong programming, adequate staffing, following best practices, and candid storytelling are all important components of this more viable sponsorship model.
Advice from Zoe Empowers on transitioning your sponsorship model: “Our own history involved following the call of God to care for orphans; doing that fairly poorly (but the best way we knew how); finding others doing it better; and changing to adopt a more effective way to be in ministry. It has been, and continues to be, an exciting journey and we encourage ourselves and others to remain open to finding more effective ways to be in ministry with God’s children. Here are some other things we recommend: • Using data collection to measure effectiveness and not just activities • Holding finances very tightly and the program somewhat loosely • Relentlessly pursuing an improved program • Being willing to cease activities that are not producing sustainable results • Trusting that donors want their resources used well with sustainable impacts • Always being in awe of what God can do • Wrapping the ministry in prayer
ZOE EMPOWERS Zoe Empowers works through local leaders in seven countries (Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia, Tanzania, and India) to empower orphaned and/or vulnerable children to move beyond charity. Zoe offers individuals, churches, and groups the ability to sponsor (or partner) with whole empowerment groups or half-empowerment groups - groups of 60-100 vulnerable children who take full ownership for their journey out of poverty. Group partners receive reports on their empowerment groups twice per year, consisting of a mix of case studies and group data. Partners are asked to actively pray with and for their groups. They are also encouraged to visit their groups in person through organized short-term vision trips. While on these trips, partners listen to the young people speak about what they have accomplished and encourage them in their efforts. Zoe began in 2004 as a traditional relief ministry. In 2006, they connected with a group of Rwandan social workers who designed an indigenous-led, communitybased empowerment program in Rwanda. This program worked with child-headed households to help them become sustainably self-sufficient across every area of life. Seeing its effectiveness, Zoe decided to cease relief work over a three-year period and put all organizational efforts behind the empowerment program. The transition from relief to empowerment was difficult both for donors and incountry partners. The organization went through a complete reorientation, affecting every stakeholder from donors to recipients. With donors, it was helpful to point to the impressive measurable results achieved in a short period of time - so they understood that this was a strategic shift to better steward their resources. This required many conversations, educational mailings, and creative ways to help people measure impact instead of activities. Zoeâ€™s program has now been replicated across countries and continents with an active enrollment of over 58,000 young people in 2020. They are committed both to growing this program internally and freely sharing their approach with others.
Advice from Open Arms on transitioning your sponsorship model: “Start small and build from there! Don’t be afraid to take time – lots of it – to make sure all staff and sponsors feel heard in the process. Use it as an opportunity to educate sponsors and share your heart. Pray through every step and trust God to work in the hearts of current and future sponsors to learn and grow with you. It’s exciting to follow His lead and watch Him move!”
OPEN ARMS INTERNATIONAL Open Arms International provides vulnerable children in Kenya with the hope of the Gospel and the love of a family. They operate a group model of sponsorship for the children in their care. Rather than matching a sponsor to a specific child, donors support all of the children at Open Arms Village by covering a specific number of days of care. Prior to 2019, Open Arms operated a traditional child sponsorship program that matched sponsors and children directly. They chose to make the transition for several reasons. Their primary goal was to improve child protection by removing identifying information (photos, names, ages, etc.) from the website and promotional materials. Maintaining a degree of separation between children and sponsors also lessens the likelihood of connection outside staff regulation (such as social media) and decreases any sense of entitlement in both parties. The change also allowed them to steward time and money better by eliminating personal letters and individual updates. Instead of letters, the children write a newsletter with fun articles and updates. This maintains a degree of personal connection while drastically cutting administrative costs. The year-long transition process was slow and intentional, with as much transparency as possible. It began by gaining buy-in internally at every level and in every country. Then a group of sponsors were invited onto an advisory committee to provide valuable insight as the new program developed. A list of â€œTLCâ€? sponsors received personal phone calls or meetings prior to the phone calls, emails, and physical mailings that went out to each sponsor. Overall the process was a positive one. Some sponsors were excited and embraced the change, while others were more reluctant. But after hearing the heart behind the transition, every sponsor respected it and many new sponsors have expressed appreciation for the new model.
Advice from Selamta on transitioning your sponsorship model: “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to lose donors. Don’t be afraid new donors won’t come. Trust God to do what only He can do. Determine your audience. Tell your compelling story. If you are walking faithfully, seeking His guidance along the way, walk in His direction. Not every step may be perfectly aligned, but we’ve seen extraordinary results when we stopped working it out in our own strength, started patiently waiting for the whispers, and then stepped out in faith.”
SELAMTA FAMILY PROJECT Selamta Family Project creates forever families for vulnerable children in Ethiopia. They place 8-10 children with a Selamta-trained mother in her own home, allowing the children to stay connected to their local community. Their support model is a hybrid of one-to-one sponsorship and program support. In 2015, Selamta added multiple sponsors per child, believing more donors would engage at a lower monthly level. Their Heart & Home model had various giving levels ranging from partial to full child and family support. They soon realized it was difficult for both the children and the staff to have multiple sponsors. They began to transition away from that model, only offering the option of general program or full child and family support. Hiring a Sponsorship Communication Coordinator improved their ability to share updates and communicate more effectively with donors. Rather than personal letters from the children, they send annual thank you cards with a recent photo. Children are now able to share their gratitude for the support they receive without the vulnerability of a correspondence letter that often doesnâ€™t receive a reply. Since this transition, Selamtaâ€™s youth have reported a greater understanding of how and why Selamta utilizes a hybrid sponsorship program. Rather than feeling a sense of obligation to communicate with sponsors, they said they are better able to share their gratitude for donor support through the annual thank you cards. Selamta is constantly evaluating their model to better serve the children and families in their program.
Advice from New Hope on transitioning your sponsorship model: â€œLook at the core values that govern the type of care you provide and how this could be best reflected in your sponsorship program. Moving to a small-group sponsorship approach brought our organization into greater alignment with our family-style approach, our focus on family reintegration, and our updated policies on confidentiality and information sharing.â€?
NEW HOPE PERU New Hope Peru provides a stable and loving environment for orphaned, abandoned and at-risk children on a long-term basis. Children at New Hope live in casitas, small family-style apartments with groups of 6-7 other children and house parents. Their sponsorship model is also centered on casitas. Sponsors are matched with one of the casitas at New Hope and commit to praying for that group of children. They receive a group photo of the children in the casita and a brief summary of how they can be praying for them. They are able to contribute to the birthday and Christmas funds to provide gifts for those children but don’t receive any personal communication from them. When new children join the casita or current children return home through family reintegration, the stability of the group remains and sponsors continue their connection to the casita rather than to the individual children. New Hope’s decision to transition from individual child sponsorship to casita sponsorship was driven by several factors. The traditional sponsorship model was no longer a good fit as children began rejoining their families through reintegration. There were also difficulties keeping up with the workload as a small organization, and concerns arose internally about confidentiality of each child’s information. The complexity of the relationship between children and their sponsors was also a consideration. Casita sponsorship gives supporters the chance to invest in and connect with the New Hope community as a whole, rather than a single child. The transition was relatively smooth for New Hope. Donors were matched with the casita that their individual child was currently living in at the time of the transition. They received a group photo of that casita and a brief update on the children’s situation, as well as how they could be praying. They were also informed of the communication they could expect under the new model. Donors now receive an update every six months on children in their casita who were able to go home, new children who joined, and any specific prayer requests. New Hope’s greatest challenge has been finding a way for donors to connect in a personal way without compromising confidentiality or creating an unsustainable workload for staff. However, they’ve found that bringing donors along as you build a sponsorship program that reflects your core values is a great way to foster excitement and openness toward a new sponsorship model.
Advice from Refugee Care Collective on transitioning your sponsorship model: â€œWe believe this model can be implemented by other NGOs and nonprofits. But it must be implemented knowing that there will need to be a lot of legwork to help donors understand why this is important. Without gentle but clear leadership, this model may not work well. It can also create a dip in financial giving initially, as many people may not be interested if they cannot be connected in the ways they expect. Organizations also need to find other very intentional ways to engage and connect those who might feel put off by this type of model. We recommend using storytelling and sharing in unique ways that do not exploit families and children in the ways they might have in the past, even unknowingly. Creating other spaces for people to engage and participate outside of traditional models is essential to the success of models like this one.â€?
REFUGEE CARE COLLECTIVE Refugee Care Collective provides transformative care to refugees resettled in the Pacific Northwest, empowering them to rebuild their lives and step more fully into self-sustainability. They operate a model called blind sponsorship, where donors, community groups, and faith communities sponsor youth and/or families with refugee status through a yearly donation. Those funds provide items needed for their new home, English training, and a team of mentors committed to helping them adjust for several months after their initial U.S. arrival. When an individual or group commits to sponsoring a family through this program, they receive information about family size, age of family members, and their country of origin. This honors and protects families while also beginning to break down power structures that may allow those giving money to feel like they have ownership of families and individuals they are helping to support. The transition into this model has been simultaneously difficult and successful. Using the current model, it is more difficult to help donors feel connected to the work theyâ€™re supporting. Itâ€™s also challenging to explain the value of this model to those who feel that more traditional models are without issue, and to cast vision to busy people who may not take the time to pause and engage with a model that doesnâ€™t capture them emotionally. It has been successful in improving partnerships with diverse communities in a way that frees them (and sponsors) from feelings of indebtedness or forced gratitude, and in allowing the organization to listen as refugees share how they want to be supported and empowered.
TUMAINI CENTER Advice from Tumaini on transitioning your sponsorship model: “[Several] years ago we had this struggle, where the donors stopped. And we really struggled because 100% of the money was coming from them. We want to have our own way of covering expenses and our own income generated from our own projects. The prayer is that even with the donors’ money, we will be investing it into projects that create profit and further our impact, instead of just receiving and spending with no savings or investment. We empower ourselves to become a self-sufficient ministry, and when the donor comes they help us get moving. Our goal is to see everyone being part of the kids’ lives. We are there, the donor is there, and the mamas are there - three-part responsibility for the child’s life. The community all coming together to support these families.”
TUMAINI CENTER The Tumaini Center seeks to reach and restore needy and hurt children in Arusha, Tanzania, ensuring that each child is equipped with social life skills through education that will help them become productive individuals with a positive impact on their communities. The organization began as a childrenâ€™s home, and at one point had almost 60 children in their care. After attending a powerful training session that convicted them that children belong in families, they began shifting their model of care. As their care model changed, so did their sponsorship program. They transitioned all but two children back to their homes and began providing education scholarships coupled with a monthly food stipend. They now use their facilities to provide after-school support such as tutoring, snack time, computer camps, and more for children in the community. Both the staff of Tumaini and the parents of children in their program have also launched several social enterprises. The list of thriving businesses now includes a goat farm, a sewing business, and a maize business. Their goal is to eventually transition away from needing sponsorship altogether.
Advice from Back2Back on transitioning your sponsorship model: “As we continue to learn and adjust what we do to protect the children we serve, communicating the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ has become increasingly important. Most, if not all, of the child sponsors and individual partners, want what’s best for the children we work with. As we learn what that looks like, and how to do it better, we want to share what we’re learning with others. From our experience, the hardest part of implementing changes for the sake of child protection occurs because people don’t understand why. As Back2Back continues on the journey of protecting children better, we’re seeking to clearly share the things we learn and communicate the ‘why’ behind any change that is made.”
BACK2BACK Back2Back exists to love and care for orphaned and vulnerable children by meeting their spiritual, physical, educational, emotional and social needs that they might overcome their life circumstances and break free from the cycle of generational poverty. They operate in Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, India, Nigeria, and the U.S. In 2015, an international location where Back2Back serves enacted a law limiting the amount of information an organization can share about a child on the Internet. The new law prohibited them from displaying children’s photos and identifying information on their child sponsorship website, which is used when selecting a child to sponsor. In order to continue offering online sign-up for child sponsorship, they added a security measure which required people to create a login before seeing children’s photos. While this was only required by law for one of their locations, they made the login requirement change for all their site locations. This was one of the first steps taken to intentionally make child protection a priority. From there, they began labeling the back of all sponsor photo cards that are distributed with a request to avoid posting the child’s photo on any social media site. They created guidelines for child sponsors detailing appropriate communication via avenues outside of Back2Back’s supervision (such as text messaging, email, or social media). With each child safety measure Back2Back has taken, there has inevitably been a ‘cost’. Adding the login step to view photos and select a sponsor child required changes in technology and resulting cost. They also understood that if an individual doesn’t want to go through the additional steps of creating a login, or has technical difficulty in the process, they may lose out on the sponsorship. In asking sponsors not to post their sponsor child’s photo on the Internet, they miss out on all the wonderful advocacy opportunities that come from a sponsor sharing with friends and family on social media. By creating guidelines for how and when a sponsor can communicate with their sponsor child, the interactions they are working so hard to provide are limited. Back2Back has intentionally taken these steps because, as an organization, they believe keeping the children they serve safe is worth the cost.
Advice from Child Hope on transitioning your sponsorship model: “You don’t have to have every detail hammered out before beginning the transition. Some things you can only learn by doing, so create space to evaluate your model often during the early stages and make changes.”
CHILD HOPE Child Hope International is dedicated to providing care for the orphaned and hope for families in Haiti. Their child sponsorship program began when they founded an orphanage in 2004. Each month they featured a child who needed sponsorship in their newsletter. Sponsors could support that child or view pictures of additional children who needed sponsors on their website. The sponsors received information and a picture about the child, a letter once or twice a year, and could meet the child in person through a short-term mission trip. In 2016, Child Hope began shifting their focus to family reunification. They are now actively working to place all the children in their orphanage into families. They also limit the number of visitors to the orphanage after learning more about attachment disorders. To further protect the children in their care, they removed child sponsorship from their website and communications. Instead, they introduced new programs that focus on their vision of working with families. This required educating donors about how poverty is the greatest factor contributing to a childâ€™s placement in an orphanage in Haiti. When a child is reunified with his or her family, Child Hope contacts sponsors by email, then follows up by phone to answer questions. Many sponsors ask about the safety of the home and sustainability of the reunification, opening up conversations about Child Hopeâ€™s assessment process, and monitoring and evaluation process to make sure every placement is safe. Staff members then ask the sponsor if they are willing to transition their gift to the general fund or family reunification program. The majority of donors say yes! Transitioning from institutional care to family care has been a journey for Child Hope, and they feel privileged to help lead donors on that journey as well.
ÂŠ2020 Christian Alliance for Orphans