Is Child Sponsorship Effective?

This Sunday I am going to be preaching on James 1:27 and our God given responsibility to look after those in need, specifically orphans and widows. For the next two Sundays there will be an opportunity to sign up to sponsor a child through Compassion International. My family has sponsored kids over the years through Compassion and currently sponsor Juan, a 10 year old boy in Columbia (South America, not Missouri). But before I recommended that others consider sponsoring a child, I wanted to do some extra reading on this issue to make sure that this is an effective way to help those in need and that Compassion is a good organization.

Having invested a fair amount of our own resources in sponsoring kids through Compassion, I hoped that I’d find that this was a worthwhile investment. But what I found was even better than I expected.
Bruce Wydick, professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, has done the most reliable research in this area. He explains some of his work:

So what are the best ways to help the poor in developing countries?

To answer this question, I polled top development economists who specialize in analyzing development programs. I asked them to rate, from 0 to 10, some of the most common poverty interventions to which ordinary people donate their money, in terms of impact and cost-effectiveness per donated dollar.

Here’s how the economists ranked some of the most popular efforts:

1. Get clean water to rural villages.
2. Fund de-worming treatments for children.
3. Provide mosquito nets.
4. Sponsor a child.
5. Give wood burning stoves.
6. Give a micro finance loan.
7. Fund reparative surgeries.
8. Donate a farm animal.
9. Drink fair-trade coffee.
10. Give a kid a lap-top.

Here’s the full article where you can see his comments on each of the strategies listed above.

Wydick also recently completed a peer reviewed, independent study on child sponsorship focused on Compassion International. Here’s some of what he found…

1. Former sponsored children stay in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers (In Uganda, the numbers are much higher—2.4 years). An extra year of schooling could have long-lasting impact on a child’s future employment possibilities as an adult.

2. Former sponsored children were 27-40 percent more likely to finish secondary education than those who were not enrolled in the child sponsorship program.

3. Former sponsored children were 50-80 percent more likely to complete a university education than non-sponsored children.

4. As adults, former sponsored children were 14-18 percent more likely to have salaried employment than their non-sponsored peers.

5. As adults, former sponsored children were roughly 35 percent more likely to secure white-collar employment than their non-sponsored peers.

6. Former Compassion sponsored children were 30-75 percent more likely to become community leaders as adults than their non-sponsored peers.

7. Former sponsored children were 40-70 percent more likely to become church leaders as adults than their non-sponsored peers.

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