Shortly after I started working for Compassion 10 years ago, my brother-in-law, a thoroughly reasonable man, asked me if Compassion really supported nearly two million children around the world, or if it was all just a front with a handful of poor-looking kids as a façade.
He’s not alone.
Many of us have read the stories of non-profits that do more for their presidents than for the poor. We wonder if the money ever even makes it to actually help the children. Many allow this skepticism to dam their generosity. Others want to help, but they also want to ensure they are being good stewards of their resources.
A skeptic’s guide to Compassion
We understand and appreciate this desire to ensure that you are supporting an organization you can trust and believe in. We at Compassion are passionate about ensuring we are good stewards of your resources. So here’s our short guide just for you.
How is our program audited?
Internal and independent audits are regularly conducted of our offices in the field, at the individual child development centres, at our international headquarters in Colorado Springs and at our Canada office in London, Ontario. Every financial process undergoes intensive and continual scrutiny to ensure that funds are properly received, tracked and managed.
I have visited child development centres many times with sponsors who look into the accounting books of our centres and are amazed at their level of detail. Every cent is accounted for. We have a high level of expectation for financial accountability for our partners.
What do we do in a case of fraud?
When an anomaly is found in the accounts of a child development centre, which are run by our church partners, our auditors work with the church to understand what the problem is. Is it a training issue that can be resolved? Is it an issue with one particular staff member who needs to be removed from the program? We work with the church to see if we can resolve the issue, and as a last-case scenario, if the problems remained unresolved, we would end our partnership with that church.
Is Compassion trustworthy?
Yes. But you don’t just have to take our word for it. We have received the Seal of Organizational Integrity and Accountability from The Canadian Council of Christian Charities. We were also named one of the top 25 Canadian charities in the Financial Post’s Charities of the Year report card for 2015, and were rated number one in our category.
Does sponsorship work?
We want to go beyond ensuring that your donations are used as we said they would be. We also want to ensure that sponsorship makes a real and lasting difference in the life of a child through our holistic child development program. We monitor child development centres to make sure they are helping children reach the specific and measurable outcomes we have set. We also continuously evaluate our programs to ensure they are effective and learn ways we can improve them.
And we’re seeing amazing results.
An independent, peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Political Economy showed that Compassion graduates were 27 to 40 per cent more likely than their unsponsored peers to finish secondary school, 50 to 80 per cent more likely to complete a university education, and about 35 per cent more likely to have white-collar employment as an adult.
“Compassion was the buttress of our family, providing hope and a way out,” says Viviana, a graduate from Ecuador who is now a professional TV producer.
Sponsoring really does make a lasting difference in the life of a child.