Partner Development Resources

Does Child Sponsorship Work?

For many of our sponsors, child sponsorship is a direct result of foreign mission trips. Many of you visit third world countries, see firsthand the devastation and poverty ravishing the country, and return home eager to help. For you, sponsoring a child thousands of miles away is a direct way to connect with the country you visited on a mission trip. You are excited and passionate, and want to share the experience with as many people as possible. How can you convey to someone who has never been to a place like Kenya just how important child sponsorship is, that what your money does is more than put food in a starving belly. While you know that $39 a month directly impacts the life of a child, many others are skeptical of the effects. We want to help you explain, with supporting data and examples, the real results and impact of child sponsorship.

In 2013 the University of Chicago Press published a study conducted by the University of San Francisco* determined that child sponsorship improves life outcomes for sponsored children. The study examined the lives of children in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, Kenya, and Uganda, and found several positive results. Children in child sponsorship programs had:

  • Decreased drop-out rates
  • Increased percentage of finishing secondary school
  • Increased percentage of finishing university education
  • Better chances at finding “white collar,” (business class) jobs once graduating
  • Increased respect in the community, described as
  • “responsible, well-respected community members”

The study also found that child sponsorship impacts lives on a level beyond meeting needs and providing access to education. On a holistic level, the children in the study had higher expectations about life. They have an increased knowledge about the importance of education, and their aspirations are higher than children not in a sponsorship program. Low aspirations and low life expectations are poverty traps that are eradicated through child sponsorship.

So, what does this mean for you? How does this help you explain your sponsorship experience and support your call to action for those around you? Well, when you say child sponsorship helps children afford education and uniform fees, you can answer the possible “so what” counters. The children can go to school without worrying about cost, which leads to higher concentration and increased interest in education, which then leads to increased quality of life, better self-esteem, and a better society! This study can provide concrete, scientific evidence for what you already know-child sponsorship does make a difference! When you get fired up and passionate about a cause, others around you are infected. We encourage you to spread the word about how you are involved, and again, thank you for your support.

*Glewwe, Paul, Rutledge Laine, and Wydick, Bruce. “Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes.” Journal of Political Economy 121:2 (2013).