Child sponsorship

Child sponsorship is a type of fundraising in which a charitable organization associates a donor sponsor with a particular child beneficiary. The sponsor receives updates from the child, typically including photos and translated letters, which helps create the appearance of a personal relationship with the child. The donated funds are generally not spent specifically on the sponsored child but rather pooled with other contributions to fund a variety of education, health, security, infrastructure, or other projects in the child's community or country. One estimate is that over 9 million sponsors give over US $5 billion to child sponsorship programs. Other sources state the amount of child sponsorship funding is closer to US $3 billion per year.


was the first child sponsorship organization, beginning individual child sponsorship in 1920 to help children following World War I. Children International was one of the earlier child sponsorship charities, Plan International and ChildFund followed suit as the concept grew in popularity. In response to the unmet needs of children during World War II, Save the Children USA launched a sponsorship program to benefit British war orphans in 1940. In 2007, JAAGO Foundation started the child sponsorship program locally in Bangladesh.


A 2017 study found that "international child sponsorship increased monthly income by $13–17 over an untreated baseline of $75, principally from inducing higher future labor market participation. We find evidence for positive impacts on dwelling quality in adulthood and modest evidence of impacts on ownership of consumer durables in adulthood, limited to increased ownership of mobile phones. Finally, our results also show modest effects of child sponsorship on childbearing in adulthood."


Critics have argued that child sponsorship could alienate the relatively privileged sponsored children from their peers and may perpetuate harmful stereotypes about third-world citizens being helpless. They also claim that child sponsorship causes cultural confusion and unrealistic aspirations on the part of the recipient, and that child sponsorship is expensive to administer. This latter problem has led some charities to offer information about a "typical" child to sponsors rather than one specifically supported by the sponsor. In some cases charities have been caught sending forged updates from deceased children.
Concerning the organization Save the Children, the Effective altruism community generally opposes their child sponsorship as a type of donor illusion. Givewell describes sponsorship thus:
More generally, David Roodman says that child sponsorship creates "a tension between creating the psychological experience of connection that raised money and the realities of fighting poverty".