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Children International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Relief

Mission: Children International is a leader in the movement to eradicate poverty. From toddler to young adulthood, we surround kids with a caring team, a safe place and a clear path out of poverty through programs focused on health, education, empowerment and employment. Our supporters are inspired as they see children radically change their lives and create a ripple effect that impacts their families and communities for generations to come.

Results: We currently serve 250,000 children in 10 countries, including the United States.

Geographic areas served: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Philippines, United States and Zambia

Programs: Our programs are focused on four key areas – health, education, empowerment and employment.

Community Stories

205 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 3

I have been sponsoring a child through Children International since 2004. It appears the child is receiving benefits and services and the photos that I receive each year are showing a child that looks healthy. Letters and pictures are received-there is some personal info in the letters but some of the content is like a form letter-I have no reason to believe that the letters are not authentic. It appears that the services and the child are real, and there is benefit being received by my sponsored child. I do share the concern of some reviewers about the CEO's very high salary. They do spend 80% of revenues on programs, but even so, $400K+ a year is exorbitant for a nonprofit executive. I think $100K would be more appropriate. I would ask that the CEO take an immediate pay cut, and ask other highly paid managers to do the same, and put the money saved into the children's programs. A CEO is largely a figurehead anyway. You have to have a CEO of some sort to be accountable but no reason they can't find one that is cheaper, if this guy won't take a pay cut. So I hesitate to sponsor any more kids, until this is resolved. I will keep supporting mine until she ages out (she is 15 now so 3 more years)-I owe that to the child at least.

Review from CharityNavigator

Nicole23

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been sponsoring with Children's International for over 3 years and I support several children. I have been very pleased with the staff response to questions or to problems. I receive regular yearly updates in a timely fashion, as well as regular letters above and beyond the child required letters. I have developed an excellent relationship with the children. I have contributed to the special hugs and birthdays which go to a general fund that allows all children in the program to receive a gift ( someone mentioned if you calculate it doesnt add up- did you consider the cost of purchase, shipping to the country if not readily available, as well as transport to the actual centers and then to pay staff to handle the distributions, notifications so that all thechildren show up for the distribution) The other issue is this, the children receive regular check ups but CI also pays for emergency medical care, medications, will treat the entire family if it is a contagious disease such as tuberculosis. I was very pleased with the use of special needs gifts taht were given to my sponsored children in assorted countries. I got lovely pictures and it was obvious that the money was stretched to help the family to the max. Yes, the CEO makes a lot, but he is no where near being in the top 25 highest paid charity CEO's, he receives a moderate salary for a CEO. I am an average worker making $32,000 a year, but I understand that he is growing the charity which is the same as a company, it can not continue to help children if it does not grow and is not productive, you can not do that with a worker making barely above the poverty level in this country. I also suspect that he regularly puts in more than 40 hours a week. I think that we all need to step back and evaluate if we are jealous or if we think he is doing a poor job. I believe he is growing the company. If i want to donate for an extra campaign I do, if i do not want to, then i thrown the request into the recycle bin. I believe in this charity. I have sponsored with it off and on for the last 25 years. I will sponsor a child through them as long as I have the ability to due so.. i have always supported three of the charities that are on the top 25 highest paid ceo's and some have far worse than 3 stars.. i will reconsider before assisting some of those again, as for CI i will continue to provide support, It is an excellent charity.

Review from CharityNavigator

11

Advisor

Rating: 2

We know Children International is doing a great job in providing support to thousands of children across the world. And, we are proud to be associated with CI as its staff.

We regret, though, to mention that Regional Director for Asia, Appu is very unprofessional person. He is harassing everyone in Asia Region. Personally, if he doesnt like someone, he harasses him so that the person resigns from CI. How do you want to run a company? An organization is a team and not an individual. CI can not support over 100 thousand children across Asia with just one person. We dont know what is the design in his mind. He thinks that organization is run like a small store and he thinks he can run it on his own.

He is a two faced man. He is very nice with everybody at Kansas City and acts like a dictator with every one in Asia region. Is that how Children International work in other regions?

He is a glorified peon who is just not doing anything in Asia. His only job is to keep Kansas City happy and the field goes through hell where unnecessary pressures are created on field staff, unnecessary demands are made on them to deliver results that are not practical. And, when you ask him for direction, there is a total SILENCE.

He demotivates the staff. There are some points that we would like you to know:-

1. He is indecisive (lots of issues take a long time for its resolution). It requires continuous follow up with Appu for his decision.
2. He is biased. He is good with some people and provide them extra protection.
3, He takes things personally and not professionally.
4. He usually doesnt respond to any phone calls. He acts in a very strange manner.
5. He is not a director who can be looked up to for direction, advice, help and support to resolve issues. It always appears as if he is only trying to save his own skin. Everybody else remain in miserable condition.

He is smart in one thing - to keep CI Kansas City EXECUTIVES in good humor all the time.

How do we work with such unprofessional person? A man with no direction, no conviction, no integrity, no trust. Nobody is happy working in the region. All want to resign from their job. Unfortunately, they cant afford to due to global recession.

There have been some resignations from some people who havent been able to cope with him.

How would you want to run the organization to support thousands of children in Asia? Do you think Ramdas Pai alone can assist CI in helping these children? It requires a serious change in the management in Asia before Appu destroys all the SOAs in Asia.

We work for upliftment of poor children. We need your help and intervention in helping the company to do the good cause.

Please help.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a sponsor since June 2010 and am currently sponsoring 11 children. This is a wonderful organization where the money goes to the children. You get an updated photo each year, plus AT LEAST 2 letters a year from your child. If you correspond with your child, you can get a new letter from your child every 90 days! You can send extra money gifts for your child, you can send them packages, you can even visit them!

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been part of this organization for over 9 years, and I find that like most things in life the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. And I don't mean money. For the uninvolved sponsors it can still be satisfying with 2 guaranteed letters a year, and an annual photo. For people who want to be more involved liked my, the sky is the limit. I get more letters from my children because I write them back (CI has a policy that if the child hasn't written in the past 90 and gets a new letter then they're requested to write back). The children receive many privileges from program such as tutoring, medical and dental checkups, after school programs, nutrition edcation, emergency feeding programs, etc. But I can also choose to do more for my kids. The key is to really learn about the program. Someone else on here mentioned that they give money to the general distribution and not to the kids - that is incorrect, they do both. If you contribute to the christmas, easter, birthday, special hug funds, those are general funds and say so in the handbook they give in the beginning. But if you have enough to hit a certain minimum (currently $50) you can have it sent specifically to your child...that's a special gift, not a contribution to one of their quarterly celebrations. You can also ask about specific things you notice on the child's report and fix. Some of the items I've bought for my children are: a floor(there's was mud), a latrine, tutoring money, a bed, an addition on to the house. The sky really is the limit with how much you can help. How do you know it's real? Well, with each of these larger gifts I got pictures! I also have several friends who have gotten to visit their children (there's an open invitation for this) and they can promise every bit of it is real. I also love Children International because it's got an extremely high percentage of funds that goes directly to the children. You can also see by the number of volunteers in each community center, that the communities really love the program as well. CI has an individual approach to poverty - "one child at a time" where other groups tend to do more of a community approach (neither I think is better in general, but I really wanted to form bonds with the children and this afforded me the opportunity). I have even mailed packages to my children, which once again come with a thank you letter and photos - genuine as can be! They also have a great community for members on the site Liftone.org. It's for sponsors to talk to each other and learn more about the program. Lots of newer sponsors find out things through the site that they didn't even know they wanted to know. Overall I'm extremely pleased with this organization and the many other sponsors I've run into contact with.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Donor

Rating: 4

I have sponsored children through this organization for more than 20 years. I am confident the information I receive on the periodic updates is consistent for the children. Several years ago I needed to contact the agency directly for an error on my part for my donation, and the agency worked with me to correct my error in a very satisfactory fashion.

2

Donor

Rating: 4

I sponsor children through this organization and have for many years. The children I currently sponsor I've sponsored since 2006 and contrary to other posts, the pictures I've received are all clearly of the same child and in checking the metadata (I'm a photographer) have all been taken around a year apart. I've sent special gifts and received photos of my child with the gifts also. I receive several letters a year from my children as well. I'm planning to go visit my children and the organization encourages sponsors to visit the children, so I'd say that is all above board. I saw another sponsor upset about how gifts are used. The materials clearly explain that gifts under $25 are accumulated and used for all children and that gifts given for birthday, Christmas, Easter, and Special hugs also go into one pot and all children receive the same items (varies by area is all), so that children with sponsors who can't afford or don't send money for those still get gifts. You can do a special needs or income generating gift and those DO go completely to your child if they exceed $25. It bothers me when people dock an organization for doing something that is clearly outlined in the material they send.

Review from CharityNavigator

6

Donor

Rating: 2

I have been a sponsor since 2008 & I chose it because it was the most renowned org. so I assumed legitimate as well & because it was the only org. I could find that offered sponsorship for children in Guatemala, where I preferred. I don't know about several photos being received by sponsor children, but I DO receive 1 a yr. I also receive a letter from her @ 3 times a year. I consulted Charity Navigator because some of my experiences with this org concerned me & motivated me to research further. First, in the beginning of my sponsorship, I was told my child was still unable to write when she was 8, mind you, & that her sister was writing her letters for her that I received, which went on for a couple years, then I started receiving letters that said my sponsor child was now writing them, but the handwriting had not changed 1 BIT & for a child just learning to write: that was something very unexpected. I contacted the org. & they said that it was definitely my child writing the letters & that perhaps she had similar handwriting to her sister because they were related, which sounded really far fetched to me. There was nothing else I could do then. Also, I had an issue a while back where I was sending a sizable amount for special contributions (holidays, etc.) & I was receiving letters that my child only received something so trivial as a backpack or a sweater, etc. while I'm thinking if I can buy tons more of those items in the US w/that amount of $, wouldn't they be able to purchase even more in Guatemala with that same amount? I consulted the org. about this & was told the $ from the contributions was divided amongst the sponsor children to esp. help out the children whose sponsors did not send a special contribution, which I sympathized with, but at the same time: if I'm sending $50 for example, I expect the entire amount to go to my child for gifts that are worth that amount, not to hear she ended up with a sweater worth $5 because other kids didn't have sponsors. I just think your $ is not viewed as much of a gift to your child when they receive something hardly worth anything, esp. when you sent so much more! I still have found no recourse regarding these issues so have just decided for the sake of the child & her family to finish my sponsorship until she's of age (because she shouldn't suffer because of the org.) & find another sponsor child org. And now after seeing the CEO's salary on here: I agree with others that that is DEFINITELY uncalled for. There isn't that much work in the world that a human being should get paid that much PERIOD unless he's moving MOUNTAINS. If anyone can give me advice based on experience with the aforementioned issues with this org., please do & thx.

Review from CharityNavigator

3

Donor

Rating: 4

We began sponsoring a child in Guatemala in 2004, and I had the opportunity of visiting him and his family the following year. I saw the Children International center in his village as well as visiting his home. We have been exchanging letters since the sponsorship began.

In 2009 my husband and I added a sponsorship for a little girl in Chile, because we were planning a trip there a few months later. We were very impressed with our visit to the Children International office for the area and the small office that served the village where our sponsored child lives. Staff showed us around and answered all of our questions. Then we were taken to the home of our sponsored child, where we met the family before spending the day on an outing with the little girl and her mother. The day's activities were chosen by her, and we also got to visit her pre-kindergarten classroom at her school. It was a wonderful experience, and I was so glad that this time my husband was able to witness Children International in action.

We believe CI is a very worthwhile organization, since they focus on health and education services for sponsored children. We understand that the money we send for gifts for our sponsored children also helps provide for children whose sponsors do not contribute beyond the basic monthly amount. Gifts include needed items for the household as well as for the child. When I visited my sponsored child in Guatemala, we sat on a stools in the kitchen that had been purchased for the family with one of the special contributions that we send for Birthday, Christmas, Easter and Special Hug Day.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

I do not have any particular background information or hard research facts, but I have supported this charity for years (several children at any given time) and have not had any bad experiences. I receive letters from the children, as well as photos and other frequent updates.

Can I vouch for the efficiency of this charity? No. (In fact, I came to CharityNavigator.org to research that aspect...). But as best as I can tell, it seems to be a well run charity.

I also find myself disagreeing with the 1-star reviewers here. Birthday card money not going 100% to the child? Well, first of all, where is the data to back that up. But even if that is the case, I have no major problem with it, as long as the charity's overall funds end up with the children. Sure, dock them a star and move from 5-star to 4-star. But drop to 1-star?!? It seems there are bigger issues at stake.

Also, who cares if the CEO of an organization of this size makes $400k a year?!? That is just naive. $400,000 a year and a company car isn't exactly a stellar top executive salary, and it seems to me that most people who are serious about donating money to charities like this one should probably be aware of that. I would have in fact expected the CEO to make more, especially if he does a good job, which all the facts I have been able to research about this charity lead me to believe.

I rate my experience with this organization 5-star. I am not sure if their financial efficiency is 5-star, but my experience certainly is.

Review from CharityNavigator

4

Donor

Rating: 1

If you look at www.charitynavigator.org it lists how much the head of the organization, Mr Cook is taking out every year. He makes over $400,000 a year and the organization is rated only 3 stars. I will continue to sponsor the child I have there until she is grown up, but then I will sponsor instead at Sarnelli orphanage in Thailand where a priest takes a megar salary. You also receive letters and pictures from the child.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a sponsor through Children International for the last six months and I could not be more delighted with this non-profit.

They do so much good for impoverished children and their communities, and all of this is reflected through letters, pictures, and reports. Their representatives answer any questions quickly and efficiently; and there is even an excellent forum that allows one to connect with other sponsors to share stories and photos.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I absolutely love Children International! I am currently a graduate student studying engineering and I still prefer to donate money when I do not have too much of my own. It is very rewarding and when I began sponsoring about 1.5 years ago, I chose several different organizations and Children International far exceeds any of the other organizations that I have encountered.
My relationship with my children that I sponsor is really developing and I truly feel like I know them in only one year. I plan to visit them once I finish school and the sponsorship blog site www.LiftOne.org is extraordinary. I spend a lot of time on this site reading letters from other sponsors and watching videos from their visits and pictures they have sent.
Children International is so incredible, that it is addicting. My sponsorship family grows and grows especially with the ease of group sponsorships where you have 12 sponsors so you each pay for one month a year. Without the assistance of all the sponsors on LiftOne, it would be too difficult to find 11 other sponsors for your group.
I cannot explain how amazing Children International is and also their staff every time I call or email is incredibly helpful.
I have not bee completely satisfied with the customer service of the other organizations either.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 4

I started to sponser a little Girl in india in october 2008 and i still sponser her. i feel good about doing what i do to help some one that needs help.
i have read some bad reviews of the company and i dont know if its true but it seems like a good charity. people need to understand that not all charitys are bad and not all people are out to get us.
i believe its a real charity and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. so far i have not had any bad things come from the company of children international. i had felt a little unsure when i read some other peoples reviews but just cause some one says some thing to you dont make it true. if you dont trust a company dont send money to them. i like doing my part and i like being able to think of the child as ''my child'' so to speak. i gotten letters and pictures thruout the 3 years since i started and until some proof comes out im gonna stay doing what i do. it makes you feel good if you have a heart to help those in need.

1 lindseyrieder

Donor

Rating: 5

I started sponsoring a child through CI in 2004. After visiting her in India in 2005, I was so impressed that I added another child, and my parents began sponsoring their child. I am now sponsoring four children and just visited them again, as well as a child sponsored by a group of friends, and my parents' sponsored child. It is amazing to see all that CI does for the children and the communities that they live in. My oldest is now 17 and a smart, hard-working high school student with her eyes set on college next.



There various programs and campaigns make a big difference for the children and their families, provioding them with school needs, medical and dental check-ups and care, extra food for kids in need, youth group programs, and places to study and play, and much more-- such as the option to help families with income-generating projects or home improvements.



Many people are suspicious of sponsorship organizations, but in the past 7 years, I have had nothing but excellent experiences and countless evidence that they are an effective, legitimate organization. I am extremely pleased and thrilled to be a part of it.



I have donated extra funds for tutors, family needs and so forth and have always found the organization to be consistent and transparent. I greatly enjoy the exchange of letters with my sponsored children and over time have built a good relationship with them.



Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been sponsoring a girl in the Dominican Republic for about 5 years. Recently my husband and I traveled there to visit and we met her. Every aspect of the visit met or exceeded my expectations. The field office people there showed me around their office in Santo Domingo and a translater was with us and the child and her mother. We had a wonderful day getting to know each other in person and we got to see what a difference we had made in her life. She may not understand it yet, but she has made a difference in my life too; the joy I got from seeing her excitement and hearing about her school and her dreams for her future is immeasurable. I would recommend this org. to anyone - truly wonderful people doing inspiring work and changing lives - one child at a time.

Review from Guidestar

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

After doing some research on Children International, I dicovered that their CEO makes over 450k a yr. This does not include company perks such as company car, company credit card, private jet, and other so called "ADministrative cost". Now include their other executive officers and board members who are likely making over 350k, we have a problem on our hands. Non-profit means money does not go into the company, but to the cause. In this company it goes into these fat cats pockets.

Review from Guidestar

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

My beautiful 23 year old daughter, a recent college graduate was recently hired by Children International marketing department. They required her to stand on the City Streets of Denver all day long and pander for sponsors. She was physically and verbally assulted by a number of homeless men and others. When she tried to report this to her supervisor she was told he did not have time to talk to her as he was busy hiring others. I have seen young people used to get money in the streets in 3rd world countries. Shame on Children International for doing this to my daughter!

Review from Guidestar

5

Donor

Rating: 1

It appears that the organization uses most of the children's birthday contributions for purposes other than birthday purposes. If you were to do the simple calculation of converting american currency to that of the currency of the country in which your sponsor child lives, then compare that difference to the approximate price of the reported gifts, as I did, you would realize that the numbers do not add up nearly to the amount of your contribution. A big part of your contribution would be missing.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have sponsored a child through Children's Internation for about 10 years. My wife also sponsors a child. I have not seen anything that would make me suspicious about this organization and I truely feel my support of this little girl in the Phillapines, and her family, has been beneficial to them. The positive is that for my minimal annual support ( $264/year ) and an additional $175 a year on special days ( which is optional ) Carmela seems to get a lot a valuable benefits. They give the child the materials, clothing and medical treatment they need to attend school as well as Christian based emotional support. In addition to individual support Carmela gets the benefit of CI's local support center. I get annual updates on Carmela's progress, a letter and a picture of Carmela and the gifts she and her familiy receive from my once a year donation at Christmas. She is now 15, still in school and seems appreciative. Negative is the letters I recieve from Carmela are very generic and could be written by anyone. CI's site says you can bond with child through the letters but I don't see how. The one letter a year I get says she likes her teachers, playing with friends and helping her mother with chores and thanks me very much for her support. I thought it would be more. Realistically she is a poor young girl who doesn't speak or write english who I am trying to give a chance to. She does not need to write great letters and Children International shouldn't have to go to great expense to write them for her. Overall I feel comfortable that Carmela is recieving a significant benefit from my support. I'm glad I've done it and will support another child when Carmela turns 17.