Shortly after I started working for Compassion, 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. In fact, we welcome your questions—it shows just how much you care!

At Compassion, we are passionate about ensuring we are good stewards of your resources. So here’s our short guide just for you.

A woman sits at a table at a child centre and does paperwork with a team of two men and one other woman.

How is our program audited?

Internal and independent audits are regularly conducted at our offices in the field, at our individual child development centres, at our international headquarters in Colorado Springs and at our Canadian 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.

A brazilian man sits at his computer desk and works on paper work.

What do we do in a case of fraud?

When an anomaly is found in the accounts of a child development centre, all of which are run by our local 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.

An older, female mentor reads a Bible with a teenage girl.

Is Compassion trustworthy?

Yes. But you don’t just have to take our word for it. Compassion Canada is proud to be an Accredited Member of the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities. In 2020, we were named one of Canada’s Highest Rated Charities by Charity Intelligence. If you want to know more—and see exactly where our money goes—read more about our financial stewardship and check out our Annual Report.

A male mentor shows a teenage boy how to work brakes on a truck.

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.

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Convinced and ready to jump in? Join us in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name!

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* This article was updated on March 1, 2021.

Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Managing Editor of Compassion International's blog.