I started sponsoring Jessica in Ocumicho, Michoacan Mexico 6 months ago. Initially, I was only going to sponsor her every month. However, after just 2 heartwarming letters and pictures from Jessica, I decided to utilize ChildFund's amazing business model and infrastructure in order to "take things to a different level". Some sponsors only do the $28/month and leave it at that. That's fine, because now another child has been sponsored. However, there are so many things a sponsor can do beyond just the monthly sponsorship to have an even bigger impact on their child, their community and the world. Here's are some other things I have started or completed in only the first 6 months of sponsoring Jessica. Regular letters and pictures - hard to explain the feeling, but AWESOME! Scheduled $50 birthday and Christmas monetary gifts. It is amazing to see the impact and joy such a small gift brings to these wonderful children. You are also really moved how the children allocate the money - food, educational tools and always themselves last. This takes the experience to an incredible level most people have never experienced. Send special monetary gifts if possible in addition to the scheduled monetary gifts. Same effect. Amazing! ChildFund processes these monetary gifts for a flat $3.50 handling fee. Such an amazing, cost effective and easy to use sponsor tool to utilize! The money goes monthly to the national offices, converted to local currency and hand delivered to your child. So, where can a sponsor go from there? I have chosen to do 2 other things to help make an impact. I established a university fund for Jessica. $600/year totaling $5,400 when she is ready to attend. It's invested in America Movil stock that is owned by Carlos Slim in Mexico (richest man in the world). Jessica is very excited trying to decide what type of bachelor's degree she wants to achieve. Very, very exciting! Lastly, I decided to "kick it up one last notch". I have created "The Ocumicho Project" plan with the help of the wonderful ladies at ChildFund. The project's goal is finding sponsors for the remaining 45 children in Ocumicho still without sponsors. My coworkers and friends can literally call the ChildFund 800 number, reference "The Ocumicho Project", get set up as a new sponsor and have one of Jessica's classmates immediately moved into their new sponsor account! All I can say is amazing! The journey is just getting started! What other company (profit or non profit) would offer these existing sponsor tools and new opportunities for their sponsors??? Incredible company! Incredible group of people! Get on board or the train is leaving the station without you! :)
I was with Childfund for over 14 years and found them in the beginning a good Charity with clear and concise infrmation for about 7 years. Then in the last 7 years I have received sketchy communications and year after year pretty much the exactly worded letter from my sponsor-child in Ethiopia.
I would advise to do your research and find another Charity that will be upfront and not move there responsibilities to other smaller projects to maintain profits within their organization. I have spent alot of time just getting basic schooling information which it took them 5 months to obtain!!! Honestly and seriously I am truly hurting writing this but support someone else who cares deeply about children and their communities in depth. Not just children as numbers in a program.
My situation has recently changed and I decided to cancel my Childfund account. When I went to do so I discovered there was NO place on their website allowing me to cancel so I sent them an email asking them to stop pulling the donations from my account. I received an automated message stating that it could be two weeks before I hear back from the company (due to system upgrades). This months donation was taken from my bank account even though I wanted to cancel WITH an extra shipping fee that I had not agreed to. I actually went into my settings to unclick the shipping fee box, yet somehow it was checked again. Not a happy camper. Several of my friends donate using other non profits and have never had an issue trying to cancel their account.
I made a one-time payment, but when I tried to access my account, it said my email did not exist. But, they sent a thank-you note and an email saying my account was ready to be viewed, so they obviously had my email. I went back to their site, and it still wouldn't accept my email. I had to send several emails just to access my account.
Once I finally got into my account, I saw that they had signed me up for a subscription, not a one-time payment. They also pre-selected a fee option that I never agreed to. I still have my original receipt, and there's no fee option selected, and it was a one-time fee. No mention of a subscription. I saw the subscription option, and I did not select it. No wonder they don't make it easy to get into your account -- they take your credit card and charge whatever they feel like to it.
Now, I've worked for many non-profits, and for no pay. We never treated people's property (their money, their cc) as if it belonged to us. Not at ChildFund, though. The people at ChildFund get paid, too. And I feel like if you're getting paid, and you're taking money, out of a charity that's meant to help kids btw, for yourself, you better be working very hard, and you have a bigger responsibility towards accountability. I will not pay for dishonesty. But that's what's going on. If I have to contact my cc company to get any further charges removed for fraud, I will. I don't have a lot of money, I just gave what I could, because I'm thankful for what I have. I don't appreciate the total lack of respect ChildFund has for the money I work hard for. What if I went into their accounts and took their money, the money they work for (that I pay for, btw)? They would not be happy. Respect needs to go both ways, or this charity will not survive. And that's really sad.
I had to cancel my donation to childfund. They still deducted from my account anyway. The person was not pleased that I had to cancel. I have donated for many years and am unable to do so for a while. Resent the additional guilt forced on me by the person I spoke with.
ChildFund I. 05/18/2016
Hello – We’re sorry to hear about this experience, and we would like to make every effort to resolve it. To do so, however, we need a way to connect with you. Would you please reach out to Sponsor Care directly at 1-800-776-6767 or email us at email@example.com? Regardless of where we land, please know that we really are grateful for your care in having sponsored a child in the first place and understand that sometimes circumstances change such that you are no longer able to continue the sponsorship. Please be assured that we thank you for all of your support.
Rating: 5 stars
Many of the one-star reviews seem to be based on misconceptions. I have been sponsoring children through ChildFund International, previously named Christian Children's Fund, for 44 years. I am convinced that it is a very good organization that does good work. Your sponsorship is not a matter of handing money over to the family. As Childfund explains in the article at https://www.childfund.org/uploadedFiles/public_site/media/publications/CW-Summer2013.pdf
"your monthly donation is combined with those of other sponsors in your child's area to benefit the entire community, so that children have what they need to thrive."
As I understand it, some of the money is spent directly on the child, paying for school fees, etc. but a good part is spent on things that benefit all the children in the community. This is far more effective than just handing out money. Money that you send as a gift to the child or the family does go directly to them and they report back on what they spent it on. Once a year, you receive a report telling what has been done at the project in the past year. These include initiatives in the area of education, health, and income self-sufficiency.
I understand the disappointment in not receiving enough letters, although I admit to being guilty of not writing often enough. Some children will be more interested in writing than others. In the early years I had a number of children who did not write much. Although I know this is probably not fair to the younger children I always request an older child rather than a baby when it is time to get another child so that the child will be more likely to be able to write to me. Also, so far I've had 4 girls in Uganda who liked writing letters and whose letters do not require translation because they write in English. Sometimes I'll even get a letter from a cousin or other relative with whom my sponsored girl has shared my letters. Because of this good experience, I've always selfishly asked for another girl in Uganda when one graduated out of the program. Perhaps this is coincidence or perhaps children in English-speaking countries in Africa are more interested in communicating with other English-speakers.
I also sponsor a girl in Vietnam who doesn't say much when she writes but I am glad to sponsor her because I went to Vietnam on a ChildFund tour and was able to see first-hand what ChildFund is doing there improving schools, building health clinics, improving sanitation, creating sustainable income generation activities, and getting the communities to take ownership of activities to improve the lives of the people.
As to the complaints about dealing with ChildFund about sponsorship or money issues I have always found the people at the 800 number very helpful. If you want to end or change the money deductions from your bank or credit card they will take care of it for you. For questions about the child, they may need to forward them to the country office. That will take longer for a response.
I have been sponsoring children through ChildFund International, previously named Christian Children's Fund, for 39 years. Sponsoring a child through this organization was one of my priorities when I first started working and I have not been disappointed. Some children left the program for various reasons but I was able to sponsor a girl in Uganda from secondary school through Medical School. She is now involved in AIDS vaccine research. I also sponsored a boy in Brazil until age 18 and was glad to receive his letters telling of career plans which only would be possible because of the assistance he had received through this organization. In recent years ChildFund has moved more and more towards helping children in their communities. They have been focusing in helping the communities move forward with improvements to livelihood, sanitation, medical and water safety conditions. Though sponsorship is still a key part of this, they are adding many other initiatives. I am very impressed with the direction that they are taking and the work that they are doing.
Be cautious... I have been sponsoring a child since last March and was surprised to receive correspondence thanking me for my 'generosity' for sponsoring another child - this was news to me! When I inquired further they provided a ridiculous explanation that the 7 year old girl I had been sponsoring all this time was no longer in the program since she had received training in beauty (?) and was employed in a beauty salon - this was a 7 year old child in a remote village in Ethiopia! Employed in a beauty salon?
I have been attempting to cancel my sponsorship but ironically there is no information or link for THAT on their website. Be very cautious - I am so disheartened and the many ratings on BBB and other non-profit reference sites makes me question their integrity as well.
ChildFund International 12/18/2015
Hello – We’re sorry to hear about this experience, and we would like to make every effort to resolve it. To do so, however, we need a way to connect with you; would you please reach out to Sponsor Care directly at 1-800-776-6767? Or you could email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regardless of where we land, please know that we really are grateful for your care in having sponsored a child in the first place, and we’d appreciate the opportunity to make things right.
I made a specific donation of buying 10 goats. I get a card in mail that say thanks for purchasing 3 goats. I inquire about it and they give me some nonsense answer. I follow up again a couple weeks later and nothing. After my third follow up they tell me my order was correct, but I get the feeling they just wanted me to go away.
Either these guys are a fraud or poorly managed, either way they have gotten my last dollar.
Review from Guidestar
Childfund definetely does door to door fundraising campaign as it used to be not on the website and now it is as it states in FAQs . I have been a donor for 3 years and actually signed up through door to door and I had been really happy. My little girl from Guatemala is doing great and I'm planning on visiting her next year.
My boyfriend has been sending money, allegedly to a child. From day one I told him to be careful with these charity organizations. I myself donate a good amount of money to different organizations to people in need, orphans, animals in the United States. I have personally been involved with orphans in the U.S. and their living conditions. We are in so much shortage that now foster parents should step in until the state governments can find some place for the orphans.
What bothers me the most is that Anne Lynam Goddard receives over quarter of a million as salary, living a luxury life in London, (most probably sending her kids to expensive private schools in London, I suppose); this is outrageous.
I think that donors should do a diligent research about where their money goes and how much is actually spent on "charity" rather than financing a luxury life for the CEO, almost tax free.
After I told my bf about the CEO and her salary, he was so upset that he wanted to call her (I didn't let that happen), however, he is convinced that all he donates, in fact, doesn't go to the "kid" he is sponsoring. I only hope that at least some of that goes to the kid, once the CEO's salary is set aside.
ChildFund International 02/02/2015
Thanks for your comment. Please be advised that our CEO, Anne Goddard, does not live in London but in Richmond, Va., where our headquarters is located. The salary of our CEO is comparable to that of CEOs of other international nonprofits. One thing to note is that these CEOs are running multi-million-dollar international operations that endeavor to change the world. That means the CEOs have to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position. Because this question is asked on occasion, we’d like to share with you a Charity Navigator report about the compensation of CEOs in the charity world: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=studies.ceo#.VM-hXC7eI2A ChildFund places a high emphasis on stewardship and accountability. Last year, we devoted 83.5% of revenues to program services for children; 9.2% was used for fundraising so that we can reach more supporters and 7.3% went to management and general operations. You'll find these numbers and more information about what those funds accomplish at this link, where you can also read our annual report: https://www.childfund.org/Accountability/
A year ago, while on vacation in Branson, MO, we enjoyed the Texas Tenors Show. During the intermission they requested that we consider sponsoring a child from a selection of ChildFund International needy children in the lobby. I selected a 6 year old Zambian girl. i am enjoying helping her and her family. Though she doesn't speak English, her grandmother and also a family friend write and keep me informed about Agness. For the price of a movie and snacks, you can provide a needy child some where in the world with a better life and education. I highly recommend ChildFund. It is a worthy organization.
I support a 6.5 year old girl in Brazil and have been doing this for about 2 years. The more letters I have been exchanging with her and her family the more I have come to know their situation and the individual personalities. This has been very meaningful to me in they have truly appreciated my support and have shared their gratitude in multiple pictures/drawings of my child's life.
I know the monthly sponsorship is doing great things in the community and directly for my sponsor child and her family from the letters and pictures they have sent me from the project. Knowing that this is being managed so well has given me confidence to send extra money for birthday and Christmas etcetera. The response from my sponsor and her family has been extremely heart warming and gratifying for me so much that I have just recently returned from an in person visit with them.
I was only able to spend two days with them and the expense seemed high when I was planning the trip but in looking back it was worth every dime. The U.S. National Child Fund personnel did a great job setting the agenda up with the local Child Fund Brazil personnel. I was concerned about going to a foreign country and not knowing anyone or the language.
The local Child Fund Brazil personnel set up all the meetings, interpreter as well as transportation even picking restaurants and beach area to enjoy our time together. The local Project that Child Fund has their, set up a surprise performance from the children including, Ballet, Guitar and a choir of children that put on a moving performance. The performance and gratitude from the children brought me to tears, (I was sure at 50 years old I would be able to fight that off). The hospitality and gratitude from my sponsor child/family and all of the children and Child Fund Brazil personnel was so genuine and meaningful. I can't express how meaningful the whole experience with Child Fund has been for me other than to say I'm so grateful.
I await my next letter that will have the pictures from the last few moments I had with my sponsor child to go with my 300+ other pictures. I have selected my new desk picture for my office and home which includes my family and I on our first day together. I have seen the impact Child Fund is making on the community in my sponsor's area first hand and can't encourage you enough to enrich your life the way I have through this program.
I have bee a sponser since the 70's. Connecting with a child from another culture and different part of the world is tremendously rewarding. Getting to know them through letters and feeling their gratitude and happiness through their letters is the best. This organization is totally dedicated to helping children worldwide.
I love this charity, as it helps provide for the needs of the children that go beyond just feeding them. They receive an education, and donors get to see their progress over the years. It gives children the opportunity to make a difference in their communities and possibly someday the world. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to know my child in some small way.
My mother had been sponsoring three children through ChildFund when she died suddenly. I contacted ChildFund and explained the situation and asked if it would be possible to transfer their sponsorship to me. The staff were very helpful and made this transition feel seamless. I love receiving letters from my sponsored children and their families and yearly progress reports from ChildFund. It makes me feel like I know them even though they live in Africa and we have never met in person. One of my sponsored children is now in college and that makes me very happy because she probably would not have had the opportunity if not for ChildFund.
I was approached at my door earlier today with a sales pitch by someone claiming to be from Child Fund. I said I would look into the organization but not give until doing so. I looked up information about the organization and found that they likely do not go door to door. When I saw the solicitor later in the day I told him what I'd learned and he pretty much shrugged. Later still, he returned to my house while I was gone and gave his sales pitch to my wife. I am considering reporting this to the police.
I notice that a number of reviewers claim to "know for certain" their child-abroad is getting the money they send, but I cannot imagine how on earth they could be verifying this. A letter from the child? Who knows who really writes those letters! The organization might well be doing some good--who knows, really?--but apparently the CEO takes a ludicrously large salary and the organization has been investigated for fraud (see for example: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/15/the-1994-christian-childrens-fund-scandal/ ).
ChildFund International 11/10/2014
Thank you for taking the time to comment. ChildFund helps children around the world living in poverty. We seek monthly supporters via face-to-face fundraising in several states throughout the U.S. Our canvassers are well-trained professionals who have been taught to honor any “no solicitation” requests. Our sponsorship program enables sponsors and individual children to form relationships that benefit both the child and the sponsor. Funds raised through sponsorship support local organizations that implement ChildFund’s programs in the child’s community. These programs provide children with access to education, nutrition, health care and other benefits. Sponsors are also welcome to make additional donations that go directly to their child and are encouraged communicate through letters. ChildFund enjoys strong ratings from several external watchdog organizations — including Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau and others.
We sponsored one child for the past fourteen years or so.
We know our sponsored child turned 18, she is six months younger than our daughter. There was no communication from Childfund Intl. about what happens when a child reaches U.S. adult age. They did, however, continue to deduct from our account.
Six months later, still paying, someone called to ask for a special contribution. I mentioned our situation, and they seemed a little flustered, then offered that the money was probably being used for other children or community needs. According to letters written on her behalf (she hasn't written more than a letter or two), she was still in school.
Now eight months later, we've received a letter from her mother that she is married and no longer in school. I appreciate her candor, but still no official notification from ChildFund.
I read here that ChildFund doesn't offer an online method for revoking your automatic account withdrawal, so I did that through my bank.
All of this may very well be the agency's poor management, but it makes it all seem more than a little sketchy, and you would think they would want to avoid all appearances of impropriety. A real shame for that community to lose the ongoing support from us and others who are disappointed in the manner in which ChildFund operates.
If you pay your CEO astronomical amounts for a non-prof, you should expect a clean running machine.
ChildFund International 08/19/2014
Hi, JoAnne, We are disappointed to hear about the dissatisfaction you and your family have experienced with the closing of your sponsorship. Most children remain in our care until age 18 or until they have completed secondary schooling. Some young people remain enrolled as they continue with vocational or college courses. If a sponsor is able to stay with the youth through those additional years, it’s welcome but not required. There is no obligation of time for sponsorship, and sponsors may advise us at any time that they do not wish to continue. For more information on preparing for when sponsorship ends, you might be interested in the article on page 10 of a recent issue of ChildWorld: https://www.childfund.org/uploadedFiles/public_site/media/publications/CW-Summer2013.pdf We would like to research the matter of why you did not receive information from ChildFund that your sponsored child was leaving the program, and we ask that you please contact us directly at 1-800-776-6767 or send an email to questions@ChildFund.org. We hope to hear from you soon! Meanwhile, please accept our deep appreciation for everything that you have done over the past 14 years.
I have been with ChildFund for about a decade. They are not the most efficient, but I am sticking with them because I know that about $80 per hundred that I donate gets through directly to my sponsored kids, and they make it possible for me to give extra money to the kid's parents, which is important to me. I know for a fact that the extra money I send to the parents gets there. That is why I stay with ChildFund, even though they are at the low end of acceptable efficiency for this type of charity (80%). In the long run, I believe ChildFund will succeed in breaking the poverty cycle for some of these families because of the community approach that they take. So I accept the 20% overhead, believing that in the long run my kids will probably make it in their societies. At least I hope so.
Have been sponsoring a boy with special needs in Dominica for over 7 years and it is a pleasure to know he is growing into a young man. CFI has made it possible for him to go to school, provide food and clothing for him through my donations.
I began sponsoring a little girl in India with this organization in 2012. This involved sending money monthly and writing letters. For months, I had only received 1 letter from my sponsored child. So I emailed the organization thinking that something may have happened to her. It took them a while to get back to me but when they did, they emailed me a letter from her, progress report, pictures of her and her family. They let me know she was doing well.
Again, I wrote to her and my monthly payments were still being auto sent to the organization. Once again, after months of not hearing from my sponsored child, I decided that I needed to cancel my account. I like helping out, but, I am not a believer in giving money away under false pretenses. I had planned on increasing my monthly donation as well as giving to my sponsored child around the holidays, but it was like sending money to an invisible person. So I decided that this was not the organization for me.
I went into my account on their website to stop reoccurring monthly payments from being taken out of my account. There was no option to stop these transactions. I emailed the organization, and until this day have not heard from them. Yet, they still took money from my account. I had to call my bank to tell them to put a stop payment on the organization. When I first wanted to cancel my account, I figured ChildFund was a well meaning organization that may be unorganized but after not being able to stop my monthly payments, I am now questioning their legitimacy.
ChildFund International 04/16/2014
We are sorry to hear that you stopped receiving letters from your sponsored child and that your inquiry was not taken care of at that time. Sometimes the sponsor-child correspondence doesn’t work out like we’d hope, and your satisfaction with the experience is important to us. Would you please contact our office at 1-800-776-6767 so that we can resolve this? You may also send an email to questions@ChildFund.org.