Here are some helpful answers to questions we get all the time. Want to talk in person? Chat with our Care Team in Kansas City, Missouri, (que también hablan español) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re a top-rated humanitarian organization in Kansas City — proud hometown of the world’s best BBQ, great jazz and some pretty amazing sports teams. (Side benefit: Living and working in the U.S. Midwest keeps our overhead costs low.)
But our mission goes well beyond our great city: We help children and youth around the world break free from poverty. Through a proven approach, local staff in each country and 67 community centers strategically located in 10 countries (Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines, the USA and Zambia), we’re working to give our children the tools to grow up healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
Over the past 80 years, we’ve developed a high-impact methodology that gives children in poverty the tools they need to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. With your support, children receive access to health care, educational resources and life-changing programs in safe, clean spaces.
Our children. Half the children in the world (about a billion) are growing up in poverty. And while global poverty is a huge and complex problem, it’s also solvable. In fact, we’ve got a bold plan to help.
We've been around awhile. Back in 1936, our organization was originally dedicated to healing disabled children and providing outreach to widows and orphans. Today, we serve 200,000 children and youth in our program and more than a million graduates.
To help end global poverty. And we believe the best way to solve poverty is to start with children and teens.
Most kids born into poverty have very little control over their lives and futures, so we’re working to change that. We believe we can make a difference in the world and poverty is a solvable issue. We also believe once you break the cycle of poverty for one child, you’ll impact generations to come.
Our goal is every child graduates from our program healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
We are named a "Top Charity" and awarded a grade of "A" by CharityWatch: "America's most independent, assertive charity watchdog."
Great Nonprofits named us a "Top-Rated" charity for the past eight years and counting.
Children International meets the highest marks in achieving the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability, as determined by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
No, our supporters, volunteers, staff, children and their families span all beliefs and backgrounds. And we all share the same goal: breaking the cycle of poverty.
We have about 200 amazing people here in Kansas City, Missouri, and around 1,200 more fantastic in-country team members who support our agencies and community centers around the world.
If you’re interested in meeting some of our people, you can find out more about our leadership and our president and CEO, Susana Eshleman. Also, our board of directors, a group of passionate business and nonprofit-minded individuals, helps oversee our organization.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly, you can always call, email or chat with our Care Team.
We’re looking for the best, brightest and most passionate people on the planet. You can check our career opportunities to see openings.
First, we love people who do their homework, especially when it comes to how they spend their giving dollars. In 2022, 81% of our total operating expenses supported the programs and activities that help our children and youth. We work hard to keep our overhead costs low, so that our children can have as many benefits as possible.
Great question. We have short and long answers below.
Short answer: No, we don’t give funds directly to the children, but your support is invested directly into programs that impact your child's future.
Long answer: Your giving dollars ensure sponsored children have access to community centers, as well as caring local staff and volunteers.
If you’re becoming part of a child’s team, it means your child is immediately able to access basic program services for health, education, empowerment and employment.
Many of our expanded programs need additional funding to allow more children to participate. So occasionally we ask supporters to donate to specific programs. We develop these programs so that each country can deliver customized support to our children based on their specific needs where they live.
We deliver our programs so that each country can deliver better, more customized support to our children. Our mission is that every child graduates from our program healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
P.S. Many sponsors also choose to give extra gifts to their child’s family, which works a little differently.
We take a lot of security steps to ensure your donations are safe and support programs that deliver the most impact. For starters, your donation is directly deposited into the bank, which means the donations are handled in a secure and professional way from the moment they are received. We also have independent CPA firms audit each agency every year. Plus, we do our own internal agency audits annually. To top it off, you can visit our community centers and see for yourself how your impact directly benefits the kids!
We look at areas with the highest concentration of poverty, usually urban slum communities. Using government data and statistics, we identify major cities and then seek to understand what the need is and what other services are offered in those communities.
You can check out some of our ongoing projects here.
Our local social workers determine which families need the most help. After meeting with family members, we use an assessment tool to determine if they are eligible. The social workers look at aspects such as a family’s source of income, how reliable it is, the number of family members living in the home, the number of beds, the amount and types of possessions, and whether the household is led by a single parent. Our assessment helps us develop a score that provides an overall way to look at a family’s need. We also look at where the family lives to make sure they live close enough to be able to easily access our programs and services; providing services to as many kids as possible in a concentrated area allows our programs to reach farther. Our local volunteers – who know the neighborhoods first hand and the people living there – are often the first to suggest a family that is in dire need of help. Then our social workers do the due diligence and the math.
When we open a project area, we do so near villages and communities where there is great need. We want to involve as many families as we can in our sponsorship program. We try to make sure that all of the families in one community are receiving the help they need before opening another project in a different area.
All children within our project area are eligible for sponsorship if they are in need of assistance. We do not ask questions concerning religious beliefs, family background, political beliefs, or any other questions that may exclude certain children. We believe that if a child needs help, he or she should receive it.
We work hard to keep costs down while keeping the quality of our programs way up. To do that, we:
Absolutely. Check out any of this official paperwork, and if you want to learn more, you can also contact our Care Team.
If you live in the U.S., all of your contributions and donations to Children International are tax-deductible. Getting your tax receipt is easy! Just log in to see your giving history and print a copy of your tax receipt.
Children International's tax identification number, or EIN is 44-6005794
You can donate by debit or credit card, PayPal, check or money order. (If you’re sponsoring a child, you can choose a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual schedule.)
If for any reason you would like a refund for your donation, we will process the refund, using the original method of payment. It may take up to 10 business days (depending on your bank) for a refund to appear on your account.
You can cancel your monthly giving anytime by contacting our Care Team.
More than 10,000 companies nationwide will match their employees’ gifts to Children International. Find out if your company is one, and double the impact of your gift!
Simply put, you’re investing in the life of a child. You're giving children the tools they need to create a brighter future for themselves and their community.
Our data-driven approach measures the outcomes of our programs aimed at helping kids graduate healthy, educated, empowered and employed.
Your sponsorship encompasses health, social and educational programs and resources, designed to address the specific issues each child faces in their community. This proven, long-term approach helps children and youth tackle challenges that might otherwise hold them back for a lifetime—empowering them to become healthy, educated and productive young adults. Here’s how they work:
We do not give the funds directly to a child. Our program provides benefits and services to sponsored children, such as medicine, clothing, school uniforms, books, educational assistance, etc., and provide for other special needs which may occur, as we are able.
In many projects, items such as food, clothing and school supplies can often be bought less expensively when purchased in bulk. By pooling sponsorship donations, each child receives substantially more for the same amount of money than if the families directly bought these items themselves.
If you choose, you can exchange messages and photos to keep up with what’s going on in your child’s life. You can even visit! By reaching out to your child, you can offer encouragement when the going gets tough.
While it’s true that all of our children are “at risk” and eligible for sponsorship, those children who have a ‘most at risk’ red flag are facing the least stable living situations. The criteria to determine the ‘most at risk’ flag are related to basic necessities and include availability of electricity, clean water, sanitary conditions, sleeping accommodations and presence of parents. While waiting time and income are additional concerns, they are not factors of this flag. Also, income is very hard to compare from country to country and, especially for our families, it can fluctuate greatly from day to day.
Yes, we have a unique program in Little Rock, Arkansas, a state where nearly 1 in 3 children live in poverty. Child poverty in the U.S. is a major issue. Currently, 15% of the population in Arkansas lives below the poverty line. And in many cases, kids feel the impact the most.
There are about 3,000 CI kids in our U.S. program, which provides after-school programs, summer camps, health education, dental care, computer education and college-prep courses.
You can write and send photos anytime. (We can’t overstate how much your child would love to hear from you. Our kids especially love getting photos!) Your letters provide hope and encouragement for your child to do well in school and work to break the cycle of poverty.
During the pandemic, we discovered that digital communication allows children and families to read and respond to letters on their own time, without a staff member visiting them or the family traveling to their community center. They’ve shared that they prefer this method of communication because it’s generally more convenient for them and their busy lives. So we are asking sponsors to use our online writing tool to communicate with their children.
If you’ve created an account on MyCI, writing your kid is as simple as going into the message center and choosing a template.
If you have any questions or need assistance setting up an online account so that you can send letters, cards and photos digitally, please contact us at 800-888-3089. A member of our Care Team will be happy to assist you.
And if you sponsor a child in India, be sure to check out the FAQ “Can I wish my sponsored child in India a “Merry Christmas”?
At a loss for what to write? These blogs offer up some suggestions.
We also want to point out that our child-protection policy is very strict. Our kids are our top priority, so we review (and translate) every letter before sending it to your child. But don’t worry. There’s no judgment on any misspellings.
Finally, we also prohibit connecting with your child on social media or sharing any personal contact information. In fact, if your child reaches out to you via Facebook (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) or contacts you directly, it could jeopardize her enrollment in the program.
If we seem overly worried, just know that everything we do is to protect the well-being and safety of our kids.
If you’re participating in our international program, then yes! Our U.S. program works a little differently — you join a team with other sponsors (because costs are so much higher).
Also, you may not be your child’s first sponsor. Your child may have had a previous sponsor who couldn’t continue their support due to financial reasons or other life circumstances.
The upside? Our kids know that lots of people — but in particular, you — are interested in their lives and encourage them to have better futures!
Yes, at any time. If, for any reason, you can’t continue sponsoring your child, you can cancel your monthly giving by calling or contacting our Care Team. If you have a temporary financial hardship and would like to plan on renewing your sponsorship in the future, please call us so we can discuss ways you can stay connected with your child.
No way. We make a commitment that we’ll be a part of their lives until they graduate from our program. Our team members around the world have invested time in our kids’ futures, and we work to find a new sponsor as soon as possible.
If you run into financial hardship, we may be able to suspend your monthly gift commitment for a short time and keep you as a child’s sponsor. Please call our Care Team at 800-888-3089 to learn more.
Yes, absolutely. Just contact our Care Team to connect us with your (willing) family member or friend.
Yes! Being a part of many children’s lives is incredibly rewarding and a wonderful way to learn about different countries around the world.
Our children live in very tough circumstances beyond their control. Sometimes a child’s family may move and the child will no longer have access to our program. In those instances, we will introduce you to another child for your consideration.
Poverty looks different depending on the country. In fact, more people have access to a cell phone than a toilet. So, your child may have access to technology (including Facebook) even though her life is extraordinarily difficult. Here are a few other facts about global poverty and technology you might find surprising.
International program: Every child is asked to write a welcome letter to a new sponsor. Once we notify the local agency, our staff notifies the family and arranges for your sponsored child to write this very special letter. Typically, this takes about 6 weeks after you begin your sponsorship. Beyond that, your child will write to you twice a year, including ongoing correspondence with you. Because it takes a great deal of coordination, children are only required to respond to your letters once every 90 days. But we encourage you to write, as kids really do treasure letters from their sponsors.
United States program: Our program in Little Rock, Arkansas, is school-based, so the children write only once a year. If your child is too young to write a letter, you’ll receive a handmade creative project from the child. The letters and projects are due in our Kansas City office by May each year. Of course, you may write to your child as often as you like, and we encourage them to respond.
English translations will be included from children in non-English-speaking countries. While we do employ translators in some agencies, in order to reduce costs and use funds more efficiently for programs for our sponsored children, we may use translation software as well as non-professional translators. Spanish-language-preference sponsors who have a Spanish-speaking child will receive their child’s letter directly, while those with children from non-Spanish-speaking countries are translated only in English.
Absolutely! In fact, we want you to share your sponsorship experience with your family and friends. One of the easiest ways to do this is through social media. But, we do have some considerations to keep in mind when posting. After all, we want to make sure all of our kids stay safe and protected.
Yes, we consider these to be “extra gifts” and your child will be so excited to know you are thinking of them. Give an extra gift in the My Giving section of MyCI. Once there, click “learn more” on the Extra Gift card to input an amount for your child.
It’s actually pretty thrilling — and fulfilling!
You can support your child and the other children in the community in other ways that provide even greater long-term impact, such as helping to fund a community center or giving directly to our programs.
If you live in the U.S., these giving options are also considered tax-deductible gifts to Children International.
For your gift of $100 or more, we’ll notify our local field agency right away of your donation and they’ll begin working with your sponsored child’s family to deliver the funds. Our local staff will send information on how your donation benefits the family, and if possible, the child and family will send a thank you letter and photos. As soon as we receive this information, we’ll send to you.
For your gift of $50 to $99, the distribution is made on a quarterly schedule, usually March, June, September and December. After your child receives your donation, we'll let you know what they received.
We honor and respect the faiths of all of our sponsored child families. All children, regardless of their faith or religion, receive a gift sent with happy wishes.
Within the last few years there has been increased scrutiny of charitable organizations working in India, especially those linking aid to religious teaching. This scrutiny includes mail sent from outside India to children and families in India. Because Children International is a secular (non-religious) organization, we take great care to not appear to be religious in order to ensure we can continue our valuable and important operations in India.
We no longer send any communications, including cards or letters, expressing “Merry Christmas” or other religious sentiments. And as an organization, our rule of thumb has always been (well, at least for the last 27 years) to call the gifts at Christmas a “holiday gift” for Indian kids.
But please feel free to mention your own traditions and holiday celebrations, because just as you enjoy learning about your child’s culture and traditions, your kid will love to hear about yours too.
By the way, when you are writing to your child on our website, you’ll see there might be an option where a template features a “Merry Christmas” message. Please don’t select it for your Indian child. System limitations don’t allow us to remove this option for sponsors of children in India. Instead we’ve added a note of reminder on the page to ensure the choice you make won’t be rejected at the SOA and returned to CI Kansas City. (But if for some reason it is, you will be notified.)
Your child loves to receive letters from you, so please write to them, no matter where they are in the world. They will always treasure knowing their sponsor cares.
Every kid in our program receives a birthday gift and a Christmas gift. Every one! About two months before Christmas and again before your child’s birthday, we’ll send you a letter giving you the opportunity to make a holiday donation. (You can also log into MyCI to give a gift.) Then we combine all our sponsors’ contributions to make sure every kid gets a gift of equal value for these special occasions.
We think it’s awesome that you want to send your child something personal! Sponsors frequently ask if they can send packages directly to their kids. But here are three reasons we don’t recommend it:
Instead, we prefer that you send an extra gift if you want to give your child additional support.
However, if you’re willing to take the risk and pay these extra expenses, drop us a note via email or call us. We’ll give you all the details, including the address of our office in your child’s country.
You should definitely visit your child! Imagine how great it would be to see the impact of your sponsorship in person! Check out the rest of this FAQ to learn more about visiting your child. Or learn more about planning a visit here.
In our international agencies, teens typically graduate from the sponsorship program within three months after their 19th birthday.
Teens in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S., graduate from our sponsorship program when they graduate high school.
We encourage sponsors to send a final letter to wish the young adult luck in the next phase of his or her life. Once your child graduates, we will send you information about another child waiting for a sponsor.
Celebration! This is an incredibly momentous occasion! Whether you’ve been your child’s sponsor for 12 weeks or 12 years, you’ve helped her cross the finish line. Our goal is for every child to graduate from our program healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty. But we can only do it with your help.
If you want to keep in contact with your child after she graduates, we’ll provide info about how to stay connected. If you’d like, we can also introduce you to another child who needs a team member, so you can continue to help kids in poverty.
If you have other questions, please reach out to our Care Team. We’d love to hear from you!
The number of days a child has been waiting indicates how long they’ve been without a sponsor who has sent a donation to sponsor them. The children on our waiting list are a mixture of children who have never been sponsored and those that are awaiting a new sponsor.
Our health programs focus on two important things:
Here are some of the ways your support helps to reinforce healthy habits:
And here are ways your support makes health services available and affordable:
NOTE: Because of privacy laws in the countries where we work, we aren’t allowed to share any medical information with sponsors without a parent’s consent.
Education doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. So we invest your support in a wide range of tools designed to achieve our goal of helping kids complete secondary school. Because going to school — and not dropping out — is absolutely essential to building a future free from poverty.
Here are some of the ways your support is used for education:
Absolutely! Our HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) Fund provides scholarships for qualified youth to continue their education through secondary school, vocational training and higher education.
If you’d like to know more, get in touch with our Care Team and we’ll walk you through the process to determine if you can provide assistance for your child or any qualified teen.
Education is important! A great way to find out how your child is doing in school is to write a letter and ask! Not only is it a perfect conversation starter, but it also shows your child you care. If you are interested in financially assisting your child with school, go ahead and contact our Care Team. We'd be happy to look into the opportunities available to your child and the costs associated with them!
Yes! We’d love for you to visit and see the impact of your support. Like other sponsors, you will love meeting your child in person. Please understand there are some logistics involved, so we ask for as much advanced notice as possible — preferably at least 8 weeks. You'll find more helpful information and details here, and you can contact our Care Team at 800-888-3089 or email us at email@example.com.
Each trip has its own unique expenses, but you should make sure to budget for:
You’ll also need to arrange and budget separately for your airfare, hotel and transportation to and from the airport.
We’ll be right there by your side! We follow strict child protection policies to ensure the safety and privacy of everyone involved in the visit, so you will be accompanied by a field staff member at all times during your visit. A translator will also be available during the visit, if needed.
Yes — sharing is the best! We know sponsor visits are wonderful experiences. Why wouldn’t you want to share? But we do have some guidelines to make sure that our kids, staff and you, as sponsors, stay safe:
Of course, look at all your photos and use your best judgment before posting. If you think there’s a chance that you shouldn’t post something, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution.
If you still have any questions, feel free to check out this blog post for more info about posting to social media, or contact us at 800-888-3089! We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
Want to see all your giving and sponsorship information in one place? It's all there in MyCI.
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If you just completed a transaction but it’s not showing in your MyCI, please try again later. It can take up to 24 hours to process. If you have questions, please call our Care Team at 800-888-3089.
You can view your next due date in Account Settings.
You’ll see the upcoming contribution amount and date listed under My Payment Preferences.
If this information does not appear to be correct, please contact the Care Team.
You also can review past contributions in Account Settings.
You can view your giving history in your Account Settings in MyCI. Keep in mind that contributions received in the last week may not yet be posted.
Most payments are posted to your account within 2 to 3 business days. If a payment isn’t showing up in your account, please contact the Care Team and we will gladly investigate further.
You’ll see the option to add a birthday or Christmas gift about two months before the special occasion. To give a gift, go to My Giving, which you can get to from MyCI dashboard or the MyCI dropdown menu at the top right of this window.
We want all of our sponsored kids to experience the joy of getting a gift and not feel left out on their birthdays or special holidays. Your gift is combined with others to be sure every sponsored child receives a present, even if their sponsor is unable to send a gift.
If you would like your donation to benefit your child only, you can make an “extra gift.”
If you do not see the special occasion for which you wish to give listed in My Giving, you may be signed up to give the gift through autopay. You can check by going to your Account Settings page and clicking the pencil icon in the Manage My Autopay Settings box. Click +See Contribution Options to view your autopay details.
If you are not signed up for special occasions through autopay and you do not see the occasion you wish to give to, you may already have given a donation. You can check your giving history on the Account Settings page. If this is not the case, please contact the Care Team and we will investigate further.
Yes! You can give a special gift exclusively for your child by going to My Giving and clicking the Give an Extra Gift button under your child’s photo.
The minimum amount for special gifts is $50. If your gift is $100 or more, you can provide instructions in the comment box if you wish for anything specific to be purchased with your gift. If you do not enter any comments, the family will purchase what they need most.
Be sure to click “add” to confirm your contribution and proceed to checkout.
If you would like future special occasion gifts to go only to your child and not to our general holiday funds, please contact our Care Team and let them know so we can make a note in your account.
If you live in the U.S., these giving options are also considered tax-deductible gifts to Children International.
Click to the My Giving page and look for the suggested amount indicated. To pay ahead, simply change the suggested amount to more than the monthly amount requested. For example, if the suggested amount is $39, you can pay for two months by editing the dollar amount to $78.
Visit My Giving to see your current total for sponsorship contributions. You can give the suggested amount or change it. Then click Give Now to be taken to the checkout page!
You can set up automatic payments from Account Settings. Scroll to the Payment Preferences and click the Add Autopay button.
Here, you can choose to add a credit card or set up autopay directly from your bank account.
Once you have added a card or bank account — or if you’ve already set up automatic payments — you will see your autopay information in the right column, under Manage My Autopay Settings. Click the pen icon to change your payment frequency or date, or to add extra gifts for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays. If you’d like to give a monthly donation to our general fund in addition to your regular monthly sponsorship donation, please enter that amount in the “extra amount per child” box.
Yes! You can change the day your donation is withdrawn each month in Account Settings under Manage My Autopay Settings. Click the pen icon to change the date and how often your donation is automatically withdrawn.
Please note: If you have a donation pending, or it is within 2 to 3 business days of your due date, you may not be allowed to change your donation date. If it is urgent that you change the donation date before your next contribution, please contact our Care Team. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to stop the charge, but we’ll certainly do our best.
You will be able to review and confirm your updates and receive confirmation once your changes are successfully saved.
Yes! You can modify the amount of your special occasion gifts in Account Settings.
Click the pen icon under Manage My Autopay Settings to make changes and then the +See Contribution Options link to expand your autopay options. This is where you can update your autopay for sponsorship, birthday and Christmas gifts.
You can change your autopay information in Account Settings.
Click the pen icon in the Manage My Autopay Settings section to expand your options. Here you can choose a different card, change the frequency of your payment and select a different date that your payment is taken out.
Click the green Save button at the bottom of the box to save your changes.
To cancel autopay, please contact the Care Team at 800-888-3089.
Yes, but you cannot set up autopay with multiple cards through your online account. If you would like to set this up, please contact the Care Team directly.
Check out your payment settings in Account Settings. If you see an option to Manage My Autopay Settings in the right column, then you’re already signed up for autopay.
If you're not on autopay and would like to sign up, click Add Autopay under My Payment Preferences.
Yes! You can save a card in Account Settings by clicking onAdd Payment Method under My Payment Preferences.
You can add your bank account information in Account Settings by clicking on either button under the My Payment Preferences heading.
Click on the wagon icon at the top of the page to view your order on the checkout page. From here you can finalize your order.
It varies for each country and, sometimes, even within a country:
Education requirements vary a great deal for each country:
We work closely with each community to understand the most urgently needed items for the children and their families. *updated 1/2021
Historically we have not provided cash gifts because our buying power is multiplied when we can purchase goods in bulk. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic, we feel it most appropriate to provide families with cash gifts for their 2020-2021 holiday gifts and 2021 birthday gift through sponsorship. This allows each family to use the gifts for what they need most. (Some agencies will receive gift cards instead of cash, and, where giving cash to families is not legal, food baskets will be provided.) Many families are struggling with everyday expenses because they are unable to work as normal due to government guidelines. Our hope is through these gifts, we can relieve some of the pressures that our families our experiencing. (Gifts will be disbursed according to a preapproved budget for each agency so we can ensure each sponsored child receives a gift.)
As always, if you’d like your child to receive a special gift just for them, you are always welcome to make an Extra Gift donation (of $50 or more) at any time throughout the year.
Sure, our acronyms can be a little overwhelming, especially because they are used by sponsors and CI staff quite often. Here’s the list of the most frequently-used ones:
You can contact us by phone, email or live chat. We’re happy to help!
We work in 10 countries around the world. Political climate, exchange rates and government support are key factors that influence where we focus our efforts. We choose to work in areas of dense poverty, where we know we can deliver the greatest impact with the most effective resources.
If you recently attended a concert and received a child packet, you were provided with a code that you can use to begin sponsoring that child. Please click here to go to children.org/start and enter your code.