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Children International
June 20, 2013

I have been sponsoring two children in Ecuador since April 2011. When i signed up as a sponsor, I indicated that I would be contributing twice the monthly sponsorship fee per child, plus I signed up to contribute extra funds for each child's birthday, Christmas, Easter, and "Special Days" when the children are given extra gifts "just because". I set up the "automatic withdrawal" so that the funds would come out of my bank account each month to cover the monthly sponsorship fees plus administrative fees and withdrawals for birthdays, holidays, etc.

Shortly after I began sponsorship, I received notice from Children International (CI) that, because of an increase in administrative costs, I would be charged more per month for sponsorship. I agreed to pay the extra rather than having to deduct the administrative fees from the monthly sponsorship fees.

Since I signed up for the automatic withdrawal, the correct amount has always been automatically paid to CI from my checking account.

Recently I retired, which means that I will henceforth be on a fixed income. However, I decided to continue sponsoring the two children, Milena and Angel, for as long as I possibly can. I also received notice from CI that they needed additional contributions from me to pay for protection of my sponsored children and their families from parasites. They recommended $50.00 per child, but did not indicate if that was an annual fee, a quarterly fee, or a monthly fee. Seeking more information, I visited CI's Web site and signed in on my account. What I found was perplexing, to say the least.

Under my account, CI was showing that I was only paying the basic monthly sponsorship fee for each child, yet under "Contribution History" it was showing that I had been contributing from 2 to 3 times the amount that i had actually been contributing. In other words, for every $100 that I contributed, my contribution history was showing that I contributed anywhere from $200 to $300. I was also credited for having paid only the basic sponsorship fee for each child, but $168 per month for "All Children". That raised questions in my mind, so I logged into my account at my bank to check the withdrawal history.

My bank account showed that the correct monthly amount plus special contributions had been paid to CI, not the huge amounts that CI was showing that I had contributed. That brought to mind the fact that I had been paying twice the monthly sponsorship fees for each child and raised the question, "What is being done with the extra sponsorship fees that I'm paying each month for each child if they are not receiving it, and why am I being sent a solicitation for more money to cover the cost of 'parasite protection and education?'"

With that in mind, I contacted CI through their "Contact Us" form page and asked them where the extra money that I'm paying each month is going and why I am being credited with having made contributions that I have not, in fact, made. I am currently awaiting a response from CI.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would reduce the salary of the CEO or whatever his title is and would review the salaries, bonuses, etc., of other CI employees. If all were receiving bloated salaries, then I would reduce their pay to reasonable rates and put the difference back into the program so that it actually helped the children and their families. I would also see to it that if $50 was contributed for a child's birthday, that amount would be spent on the gift that the child received.

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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

MY ROLE:
Donor