Someone once said, “He who has all the answers isn’t asking the right questions.” We like to think we have both!
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.
Our kids. Half the kids 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.
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.
Were 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 2019, 84% of our total expenses supported the programs and activities that help our kids. We work hard to keep our overhead costs low, so that our kids can have as many benefits as possible.
Here are a few of our credentials:
You can see your impact in person by visiting your child and taking a tour of the local community center, where you can talk with our in-country staff directly.
Great question. We have short and long answers below.
Short answer: No, we don’t give funds directly to the kids, but your support is invested directly into programs that impact your kid’s future.
Long answer: Your giving dollars ensure sponsored kids have access to community centers, as well as caring local staff and volunteers.
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 kids based on their specific needs where they live.
We deliver our programs so that each country can deliver better, more customized support to our kids. 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.
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., your gift to Children International is tax-deductible. Getting your tax receipt is easy! Just log in to see your giving history and print a copy of your tax receipt.
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!
On the whole, our goal is that every child graduates healthy, educated, employable, and empowered to break the cycle of poverty. To achieve that goal, we’ve developed an innovative array of programs that build on one another. Here’s how they work together:
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.
While all of our children are very needy to be eligible for sponsorship, those with a ‘most needy’ red flag are facing the least stable living circumstances. The criteria to determine the ‘most needy’ 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. Income is very hard to compare from country to country and it can fluctuate greatly from day to day.
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”?
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.
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.
We honor and respect the faiths of all of our sponsored child families. All children, regardless of their fath 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to see all your giving and sponsorship information in one place? It's all there in MyCI.
Take a tour
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.
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!
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.
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 ondd Payment Method under .
You can add your bank account information in by clicking on either button under the 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.
How can I help my child during this crisis?
You can give directly to your child with a donation of $50 or greater, or you can support our Emergency Community Fund, which will help our families during this difficult time. Donations are now being directed to provide food and living expenses and connect families with local resources to access critical support.
What is the Emergency Community Fund – and what it will cover?
Each year, we budget $250,000 to fund emergency relief that would otherwise devastate our families if they were to pay out of pocket. These situations include surgery (such as heart, eye, brain, etc.), chemotherapy, home repair or replacement, home furnishing replacement (due to disasters like floods and fires), and funeral expenses.
Children International will continue to support families who would otherwise need help through the Emergency Community Fund. We also plan to cover medical costs related to COVID-19 and are partnering with government agencies and other organizations to provide food and living expenses. We are also connecting families with local resources so they can access critical support.
How will I know where my money went? Will I get a report on the families I helped?
When you give to the Emergency Community Fund, your money will support families in urgent need. We cannot predict specific needs. However, we do know that virtually all our families are negatively affected by the coronavirus.
While we cannot report on the help extended to an individual family or child, we anticipate reporting on how many families received help and what type of help they received.
How much do you expect each family to need/receive?
Needs will vary by family, and while we know all of our families may end up needing relief, we do not expect every family to ask for assistance. We conservatively estimate 10% to 25% of our families will request assistance with an approximate value of $150 to offset some of the setback caused by the coronavirus.
What happens if more money is raised than what is needed for this pandemic relief?
A: Because we can’t predict how everyone will be affected, we can’t guarantee that all funds raised will be used specifically for coronavirus relief. We do guarantee, though, that all of the funds raised will be used for emergency community and family needs.
I would like to know if my child and family are doing okay. What can you tell me?
We do not have specific information about individual sponsored children. But our agency staff and volunteers are doing all they can to maintain contact with, and to check on the well-being of, all our sponsored children and their families. Our teams in the field are first and foremost concerned with doing all they can to keep children, and themselves, safe.
Will I find out if my sponsored child has the virus?
Due to privacy laws regarding personal health, we cannot provide this kind of information.
How can I help my child during this crisis?
You can give directly to your child with a donation of $50 or greater, or you can support our Emergency Community Fund, which will help our families during this time. Donations now are being directed to provide food and living expenses and connect families with local resources to access critical support.
May I give an extra monetary gift for my child?
Yes! Although gifts will be delayed, we will do our best to get it to your child’s family as soon as possible. Your gift of $50 or greater will help with the family’s most urgent needs, including cash donations directly to families in some cases.
Can I send a letter to my child?
Yes! A letter of encouragement and hope would be very uplifting for both your children and their family. Please be aware, however, that correspondence will be delayed during the crisis.
Stay-at-home orders and technological barriers are impacting delivery of letters, photos and family updates. We are exploring alternative ways to keep you in communication with your child, such as forwarding copies of letter by phone and asking families to send photos via text messaging.
Will children still write letters to sponsors?
Although it is possible some children will write letters, we do not anticipate or expect children to write until our community centers reopen, and we do not yet know when that will happen. Decisions surrounding re-openings will be made on a region-by-region basis.
What can you tell me about the situation in my child’s country?
There is a lot of information in the news, and we are closely monitoring the situation. To learn more about what’s happening in each country where we work, visit children.org/covid-info. You can also look for updates in the top banner of our children.org website.
How will my sponsorship contributions be used during this crisis?
Our Global Programs team is working with agency staff across the globe, coordinating action plans to continue offering benefits and services to our families. In some cases, assistance like tele-health services, virtual education, nutrition rehabilitation, job-readiness programs, and more, are ongoing. We are also forming partnerships with local vendors for distributions of food and medication.
Developing other partnerships with relief organizations and collaborating with government agencies are also effective ways we are helping in the communities where we operate.
Where technology makes it possible, our staff are in continuous communication with sponsored families and volunteers through phone calls and texts. Agencies are involved in a process to identify ways we can support the most vulnerable with funds that are not being used to maintain our community centers and traditional programming. We have already started providing food or cash support to families in some locations. We will have more specifics in the coming weeks.
With the closure of schools and higher educational institutions, will students receive HOPE scholarships and post-secondary school scholarships?
In most agencies, youth are still receiving HOPE scholarships. But it really depends on a country’s school calendar. For youth who have already started school, they received their HOPE scholarships and most likely used the funds to cover upfront fees. For students whose academic calendars are in between semesters or on a break – or for those whose schools are on standby – youth may need to use the scholarship to secure their registration. Many schools are also starting to provide online education so youth will have access to remote learning.
The need for educational assistance isn’t going away. In most cases, it is simply postponed — depending upon government and school policy. In fact, the need for education assistance will very likely increase, as the resources a family might have been able to put toward a child’s education will now be going to other essential needs like food due to reduced family income. Our agencies and program coordinators are working on ways we can supplement education through digital programs or over-the-phone tutoring.
Are there plans to pivot program funding to other emergency needs?
Plans are being developed that will allow us to pivot our resources toward the most critical needs of our children and their families during this crisis. Our leadership anticipates there will be some savings as we divert funding from one program to another. There will also be some savings accrued from lessened operating costs in community centers and related transportation funds.
We are determining how the savings might be used to support families. But we, along with the rest of the world, are in an unprecedented situation and are working hard to determine know best to serve our children, families and supporters. We are also actively seeking additional gifts for our Emergency Community Fund to support children and their families.
How are the centers or agencies proposing to meet the health needs of children?
Our community centers are closed because in many of the areas where we work, it’s against the law to leave home. Children International doctors are working from home and providing healthcare through tele-health services. Our doctors are answering health questions, prescribing medications and making referrals as needed. Children International will continue to provide pharmaceutical services and help pay for medicines and other health care needs.
Preventive health messaging and informative communication is a priority among our agencies. Through social media, text messaging and phone calls, we are working to communicate accurate information to sponsored families about how to prevent infection, properly wash hands and advise on local protocols if an individual suspects they’ve contracted COVID-19.
What processes and mechanisms are in place to alert the staff of any emergency needs?
We have strong networks with our committed volunteers, who remain connected to sponsored families and our in-country staff. Some agencies are participating in weekly check-ins with volunteers to assess the situation in our communities and to help gauge ways we can be most helpful. All communication is done electronically or over the phone.
Every week, our Programs team at headquarters receives updates, which include national and agency-specific information, from every agency. Staff in our agencies are also calling families to check in — especially those families with youth who are remotely participating in programs.
When will children be back in school?
This is up to the governments and municipalities where our children live. These decisions are being made with public health and safety being the top priority amid the pandemic. We are unsure when each country will allow children to go back to school, but please check children.org for the most up-to-date information.
How many families does CI work with?
Children International currently works with nearly 200,000 children and youth from 150,650 families in 10 different countries: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Philippines, United States and Zambia.
You can learn about how the pandemic is impacting our letter distribution process here.
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. Scroll down to see the planned gift list by country for 2019.
*Shoes with asterisk were donated by a giving partner.
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 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.