One of the most popular forms of charitable giving in use today is child sponsorship as witnessed by the fact that just one of the leading child sponsorship charities currently has over 1 million individual child sponsors worldwide. Despite this huge level of support, it is not generally understood exactly what child sponsorship actually involves.
Most people tend to assume that ones chosen charity arranges for sponsors to be matched up with an underprivileged child in one of the poorer underdeveloped countries. The idea is that you essentially take a child under your wing and act almost like a fairy godmother or father until he or she attains adulthood and can stand on his or her own two feet.
To a large extent, this is a pretty accurate impression. New sponsors are matched with individual children and can typically choose which country, which sex and which age group they would prefer. They then exchange photos and letters on a regular basis. This obviously helps the sponsors to see at first-hand how their donations are benefiting the children.
The sponsorship itself costs approximately 15 per month and many donors choose to sponsor more than one child at once. One common misapprehension about these regular donations is that they go direct to the childs parents or guardian in order to pay for essentials such as food or education. In reality, some of the longest established child sponsorship charities have found that this is largely ineffective and can cause resentment amongst other children in the community who might not be so fortunate.
Instead, some of the largest charities prefer to pool total donations and implement larger schemes to assist the whole community. Nor are all the funds diverted towards obvious short term relief like providing food, water and basic healthcare. There is a strong emphasis on self-help and personal development so that future generations will be self sustaining and not so reliant on outside assistance.
To this end, sponsors will often find their donations finding their way into things like training courses to teach teenagers how to farm, small grants for business start-ups and introducing the concept of village based savings and loan organisations.
There is no doubt that the top sponsorship charities have been active for so long in many countries that they are now taking a leading role in aiding the overall welfare of children and ensuring that they are not exposed to discrimination, abuse and exploitation.