Frequently asked questions
- How does sponsorship work?
- Can I decide on the gender, nationality and age of my child?
- How long does sponsorship last?
- Can I send gifts?
- Does the money go straight to my sponsored child?
- What will I receive?
- What happens if I can't continue as a sponsor?
How does sponsorship work?
ActionAid will send you a photo of a child who urgently needs your help and you will be their only sponsor. Your donation will go to help your sponsored child and the people who matter to them most – their family, friends and neighbours. We've learnt over 35 years that the best way to bring about lasting change is to help the whole community.
The projects we work on might include wells to provide clean water and stop fatal diseases that can destroy communities. Child sponsorship could help a community to build a school or pay a teachers' wages, so that children can learn the skills they need to free themselves from poverty. Or perhaps your donation might buy a child's parents seeds, and irrigation, so they can feed their family.
Your one-to-one relationship with your sponsored child means that you have a unique insight into their life, and the effect your donation is having. Through the special messages from your sponsored child and reports direct from our staff on the ground, you'll be able to see the transformation first-hand.
And with the opportunity to write to your sponsored child, you have the chance to build an incredible relationship.
Can I decide on the gender, nationality and age of my child?
Yes. If you have a link to a particular country, have set your heart on sponsoring a boy or a girl, or would prefer to sponsor a child of a particular age just give us a call on 01460 238 080 and we'll do our best to help.Back to top
How long does sponsorship last?
It depends. Sponsorship varies in length and can come to an end for a variety of reasons: a child grows up and finishes school, or – best of all – your sponsored child and their family no longer needs help. The aim of child sponsorship is to free people from dependency, and there's no better reward for a child sponsor than knowing that your child and their community are ready to support themselves.
Typically, child sponsorship lasts for a minimum of five years, but if you want to stop, you can do so at any time.
Can I send gifts?
Whether it's a birthday or Christmas, you can share your celebrations with the child you are sponsoring.
We have set up a special Gift Fund you can donate to, which will fund presents for all the children in the community where your sponsored child lives. Please do not send gifts and use the Gift Fund instead. By giving a gift to the Gift Fund you could help equip a playground, buy sports equipment or enable the whole community to join in a celebration of their own.
We set up the Gift Fund so that one child isn't singled out unfairly by receiving a gift (and so that the community avoids having to pay import fees) and we ask that you use the Gift Fund instead of sending gifts through the post.
Does the money go straight to my sponsored child?
Sponsorship costs a minimum of £15 a month. 80p of each pound you give goes straight to the country where your sponsored child lives. There it will help change the life of your sponsored child and all the children in their community. We've learnt that it's counter productive to help one child and not others, so our focus is on strengthening the community. By giving people the right skills, tools and knowledge we can end people's poverty for good. We've also learnt that to be truly effective, we need to fight the root causes of poverty, so that's why we work nationally and internationally, as well as in your sponsored child's community, to bring about long lasting change.
20p is used on priority activities, such as responding to emergencies, campaigning internationally and in the UK to change the systems and policies that keep people poor, and finding new sponsors.
What will I receive?
You will receive two messages from your sponsored child a year. Your sponsored child may never have held a pencil before, and may send you something quite simple. Others might send a drawing or even a letter. It all depends on the age and ability of the child you sponsor, meaning that each message is unique. Each message comes with a short update from the field worker, letting you know how your sponsored child is doing.
You'll get two reports from the community each year. These let you know how your money is being spent and how you are helping to change lives. Once every two years, you'll also get a new photo of your sponsored child.
You'll also receive Action magazine three times a year, so you can find out about ActionAid's work around the world.
What happens if I can't continue as a sponsor?
We hope you'll be able to continue, but please get in touch if for any reason you're having difficulty. There are other ways you can help that don't involve the same commitment. If your circumstances change and you do want to stop, you can do so with a simple phone call. We will either find a new sponsor for your child, or arrange to make up any funding shortfall in other ways.Back to top
Can I write to my sponsored child?
Please, please write to your sponsored child. We know just how much it means for children who are sponsored to get a letter from far away overseas. Receiving special letters from their sponsor really brings sponsorship alive for the children involved.
Children are interested in finding out more about their sponsor, such as where you live, what pets you have, what sports you like. A simple message is fine, or you can even send pictures if you like.
What happens to messages I send?
When your message reaches your sponsored child's community we take care to share it with all the children in the community so that none are singled out.
If your child attends school, the messages may be translated and shared in class and then displayed for a little while before being given to your sponsored child for them to keep. If your sponsored child doesn't yet attend school then the messages will be shared in a special meeting.
Children love to get messages from their sponsors and we know that many children keep their messages for many years.
Why is ActionAid different from other child sponsorship charities?
ActionAid's approach to working with communities and changing lives means you can be sure that your donation really is making a lasting difference to as many people as possible. We don't believe in sticking plaster solutions, but understand that the best way to help a child is to tackle the root causes of poverty, at a local, national and international level. Our work has led to some significant changes to the way that governments and international bodies deal with poverty, which has transformed the lives of millions of children around the world.
And we are rooted in communities. Most of our staff are local to your sponsored child so know the problems they face first hand. They work closely with communities to identify the things they need most and then help your sponsored child's friends and family to work their own way out of poverty. This brings real change that lasts, meaning we achieve as much as possible with every pound you give us.
ActionAid child sponsorship is incredibly personal. We put every sponsor in touch with an individual child, so you can be sure that you are forming a real relationship with a child, and that you are their only sponsor.
Most of your donation goes to projects in your sponsored child's community, rather than being put into a 'general fund' and spent all over the world.
Sponsored children play an active role in sponsorship and their community. We make sure children understand the role they're playing in their community's development and make sure to involve all children so that none are left out.
Will my sponsored child be singled out in the community?
No. We're very careful to make sure that sponsorship is fair for all children in the community.
Sponsored children don't get any special treatment. Any messages you send are shared with the community before being given to your sponsored child to keep. And when your sponsored child writes their message to you, we make sure that all the children in the community can get involved.
We also ask you to not send gifts to your sponsored child as these can single out children, so we've set up a special Gift Fund which will buy presents for all the children in the community.
I'm a teacher - can I sponsor a child with my school?
Yes, you can. In fact, hundreds of UK schools already enjoy ActionAid child sponsorship.Back to top