How to sponsor a child: your questions answered

ActionAid has nearly 50 years of experience in changing lives of children and communities through child sponsorship

Child sponsorship is not just a band-aid solution, it's a viable route out of poverty.  

We have a robust and evidence-based approach to providing support to countries around the world. 

We work hand in hand with local communities to ensure the solutions we implement are long-term, feasible, appropriate and sustainable, ensuring that the work we do empowers communities to become self-sufficient. 

Child sponsorship provides children and whole communities with secure access to food, water, education, healthcare and the opportunity to earn a living.

Here's everything you need to know about what sponsoring a child means, how it works and how we use your sponsorship funds to change lives.

How is coronavirus affecting ActionAid UK's child sponsorship? 

As the ongoing impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt around the world, we’re doing everything we can to ensure our child sponsorship work is uninterrupted.

Child sponsorship is even more vital now. Even though children are not considered to be as vulnerable to Covid-19 as adults, the impact of a global pandemic is having an indirect effect on their wellbeing, and a direct impact on the communities around them.

Is coronavirus affecting my sponsored child and their community?

Through child sponsorship, we have long-standing relationships with many communities in the countries where we work. Our programme workers and local partners have a long history of both responding to disasters and helping communities prepare for outbreaks. 

Staff in the countries where we work have been adapting plans and leading activities to respond to the impact of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

In many of the countries where we work, governments have created and continue to create localised and national lockdowns as cases fluctuate – this includes closing schools, and asking people to isolate to help reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

Our staff continue to adapt activities to respond to the changing needs of the communities, and this has included distributing relevant information and putting in place preventative measures - such as providing PPE and teaching children how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of the virus. 

With your support, we continue to work with communities to further reduce the impact of the disease, and help to rebuild lives. 

The situation is constantly changing in each country, and where possible, staff are resuming activities to collect updates from sponsored children. We will communicate any news with child sponsors if their sponsored child is affected.

Do you have a coronavirus fund for my sponsored child’s community?

No, we do not have a separate fund. Child sponsorship funds are already being used within local communities to ensure that we maximise the work our staff and partners are doing to control the spread of the outbreak and help those affected. 

We do have a fund for anyone who wants to donate specifically to our coronavirus response.

What impact will coronavirus have on my child sponsorship?

We take the safety of our staff and communities very seriously, so when the pandemic began we immediately halted the collection of messages from sponsored children.

As restrictions eased, coupled with developing new protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of the communities, my colleagues have been able to restart collecting messages from the children in most of the countries where we work. 

The situation continues to change in the UK and in the countries where we work, so we cannot guarantee there will be no further disruptions to our child sponsorship plans, including collecting future messages.

Communication is now more important than ever and we encourage sponsors to write to their sponsored child. Read our tips on how to write to your sponsored child.

We have received so many amazing messages of support from our child sponsors for the children they sponsor. It's been inspiring to receive these messages during this challenging time. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with our dedicated Supporter Contact team on 01460 238 000 (between 9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday) and by email anytime at supportercontact@actionaid.org.

How can I help children during the Covid-19 pandemic?

We need more child sponsors. Your donations will help provide children and their communties with nutritious meals, clean water, healthcare and education. Sponsor a child today and you can help children and communities in the poorest parts of the world.

What is child sponsorship and how do I sponsor a child?

What is the cost of child sponsorship?

How does child sponsorship benefit children and communities?

How do I choose a child to sponsor?

Advice on being a child sponsor

Coronavirus and child sponsorship

Is child sponsorship ethical?

There are some popular myths around child sponsorship being unethical claiming it causes family rifts, imposes the charity's political views on children and families, and fosters passiveness and dependence.

At ActionAid we have a unique approach where a child is not singled out to be the sole beneficiary of child sponsorship funds.

Sponsored children represent their families and communities as 'ambassadors' and are aware that the donations help them, their siblings - even those who are not sponsored, families, neighbours and peers at school. 

The funds are shared widely in the community and go towards community projects that help all - whether it is building wells, buying school equipment, or providing seeds and livestock to women to set up their farms and businesses. 

At ActionAid we do not impose our beliefs or values onto the sponsored children or family. In fact, ActionAid is not a political organisation and follows Charity Commission guidelines on political activity by charities.

We are only political in the sense that we are partisan – we take the side of women and children affected by poverty in developing countries - and we engage in political debate with decision-makers over how best to remove the barriers that keep people poor.

Lastly, the work we have done so far shows that ActionAid's child sponsorship programme is not set up to proliferate dependency or encourage passiveness.

Our projects in local communities are set up to be self-sufficient and in some areas continue long after we have stopped funding a project in the area. 

And our partnership model where we work closely with the communities themselves means that everyone on the ground is involved in the process from day one. We do not consider ourselves as outside benefactors and we do not view our beneficiaries as passive recipients of support.

We include beneficiaries in all the decision-making, development and implementation process by working closely with our local staff who are based within those communities and other members of those communities as well.

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Top image: Sponsored children in Brazil writing messages and creating drawings for their sponsors. Bruna Valenca

Page updated 6 July 2021