Child Sponsorship Charities
Here we list, link to and compare UK charities who offer child sponsorship, to help you choose the best charity for you. We explain our understanding of what happens to your money with each and whether the sponsored child benefits directly from the sponsorship. We try to give a fair and honest comparison. We are not an independent reviewer of child sponsorship charities (nor are "comparison" websites which get paid for referrals).
We feel lucky that we can use all our sponsorship income to help children. Other sponsorship models have their advantages too. We give the websites of most child sponsorship charities. If any other charity listed here would rather not be listed please let us know. For the sake of argument we list the charities in approx order of size, measured by the number of countries they work in:
Sponsoring a Child with SOS Children
SOS Children (or SOS Children’s Villages) work in 125 countries and offer child sponsorship in over 100. This includes most of the developing world. SOS is primarily an orphan charity, caring for orphaned and abandoned children (Aids Orphans, Street children, war orphans, disaster orphans etc.), and preventing family break up.
Sponsorship mainly pays for providing a loving family for these children. No Sponsorship income is used for UK costs. Less than a third of SOS Children’s international income is from sponsorship, and it raises much of its funds directly in the developing world. In the UK SOS have a very low advertising spend and mainly spread by “word of mouse”.
Like the idea of sponsoring a child with SOS Children? Find out more...
World Vision work in "nearly 100 countries" and offer child sponsorship in many of these. World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation, working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. They therefore work through communities and do not generally directly care for children. They say "World Vision unapologetically takes a community-based approach to development – a fact we publicly promote at every opportunity...(lengthy quotation shortened)... while sponsored children may receive some direct benefits – like school materials or a jacket for warmth – this in no way represents the entirety of our work in a community". Thus sponsored child gets a small gift for agreeing to be on the sponsorship programme, and funds are spent in the community . World Vision is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance. They have a high profile TV and print advertising presence in the UK.
Plan UK work in 49 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America. They describe themselves as a "child-centred community development organisation". Plan is one of the longest established sponsorship charities and their approach to child sponsorship has evolved over their 70 year history. They now work with whole communities rather than individual children. Since mid 2009 for each £1 in sponsorship received, 80% is spent on projects and at least 72% is spent in the country where the child lives.
So when you sponsor a child with Plan, your money goes to community development projects in your sponsored child's country, for example providing clean water, education, healthcare or sanitation.
Sponsoring a child with Actionaid UK
Actionaid work in 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. They are probably the best and best known fundraisers in the UK market. The model for sponsorship they use is similar to World Vision and Plan except as far as we can tell with Actionaid comparatively more of the funds are used for campaigning on behalf of communities (for example, lobbying governments against the prohibitive cost of state school fees or VAT on school books, which contribute to families remaining in poverty) and correspondingly less for directly helping them on the ground.
Compassion is a Christian child sponsorship charity that works in 26 countries. It costs £21 a month to sponsor a child and a minimum of 80 per cent of this goes directly towards financing education, healthcare, nutritious meals, safe places to play and Christian teaching for sponsored children. Compassion's other programmes include the Child Survival Programme which cares for vulnerable mothers and babies, the Leadership Development Programme which sponsors young people through university, and the Respond Programme which funds community projects such as the provision of clean water. However, these other programmes are fundraised for separately, not paid for using sponsorship money which is spent directly on the children.
Sponsoring a child with EveryChild UK
EveryChild works in eleven countries and is currently offering sponsorships in Malawi, India and Cambodia. Sponsorship payments are treated as unrestricted contributions to EveryChild’s worldwide work. EveryChild’s projects are focused on ensuring children grow up within the care and safety of a a family environment
Sponsoring a child with other sponsorship charities
The remaining charities as far as we know operate in six countries or less, very often in one. In general they have well under a thousand sponsors in the UK. In general the smaller charities tend to have a model closer to the SOS Children model, in that they really do have a close relationship with the children. They are often a single school or orphanage which has been visited by tourists from the UK and now they have a few hundred supporters. Some of them originated like this and now have a handful of projects. Small charities like this come and go so please let us know of amendments.
- A small charity which works to provide schooling for children in The Gambia. They raise roughly £40,000 per year from around 100 UK sponsors, of which over 95% is spent in directly supporting children's education.
Established in 2005 in the Dar es Salaam region of Tanzania, the charity has created a new model of holistic orphan care, where the best is done for the future of each child. Those with wider family are fostered, while those with no relatives are brought up in an impressive new Children's Village, designed to house 300.
- A small Christian organisation working in mainly Uganda with one project in Zambia.
- A small charity working in Albania, Ukraine and Romania, which offers the children on their programmes for sponsorship.
- African Child Trust is a small niche charity specifically to help the education of children of widows in Zambia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Tanzania. Money from child sponsorship as far as we can see directly benefits the child and widow.
- Equipe is a small charity working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is not entirely clear to us whether sponsorship funds are pooled but sponsored children appear to directly benefit.
- Heal is a small charity with four projects in India and about 200 sponsored children. It is run on a volunteer basis by an Cambridgeshire doctor and we admire the fact the volunteer aspect. Funds given in child sponsorship directly benefit the sponsored child.
- Thai Children's Trust:
- Formerly the Pattaya Orphanage Trust is a well established charity focusing on orphans in Thailand. They offer the 1500 children who live with them for sponsorship (so the sponsored children get complete care from the charity) but also have projects in the community for street kids, refugee children, tsunami orphans and children with disabilities. They have thousands of sponsors in the UK, and complete online services for sponsors.
- International Childcare Trust is a small charity which does not run its own operations in developing countries but funds local partners in six countries in Asia and Africa. As far as we can tell 10% of funds received for sponsorship go on UK admin costs and 90% of funds received are handed over to local partners to be used to benefit children including your sponsored child.
- Kingscare is a strongly Christian organisation which organises sponsorship of school students via a network of local churches. The churches propose the students and manage the funds.
- Lily Foundation:
- The Lily Foundation is small and cares for orphans in the Congo. The sponsored children are generally orphans they care for.
- Out of Afrika:
- Out of Africa work only in Kenya and money from people who sponsor a child go directly to pay for the education of the sponsored child.
- Project Mala:
- An Indian education charity providing schooling for children from the carpet industry. They run six Primary and two Middle schools with over 1,200 children in full time education. Child sponsorship costs £9 per month for a Primary school child and £15 for a Middle school child. This covers education, meals and school uniform. Sponsors are given a login where school reports and photographs are posted.
- Enable is a small charity working only in India but we have just found from their website that their sponsorship program is suspended as one of their managers has embezzled a considerable proportion of their funds. We are sorry for anyone who has given money for India children and had it diverted in this way.
- Love in Action:
- Love in Action is a Christian, UK based charity sponsoring children in Masaka, Uganda. They currently have around 180 children sponsored.
- Food for the hungry is a Christian organisation with around 100 sponsored children but as far as we can tell the sponsored children only benefit from "projects to tackle the root cause of poverty", i.e. not directly.
- A very small Christian organisation run by a missionary which says "sponsoring a child will allow your child to hear about Jesus and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God."
- A small education charity which allows you to sponsor a Cambodian child's schooling.
- Fields of Life:
- A Christian organisation in Uganda where people who sponsor a child directly pay for the child's schooling.
- A small charity supporting rural schools in South West Uganda. Sponsored children are very directly helped.
- A Christian charity committed to helping street living and street working children and those at risk of becoming so, principally in Latin America.
- Hotcourses Foundation:
- The Hotcourses Foundation is a charity focusing on orphans in Kenya affected by HIV. They offer sponsorships which are used to fund their education, provide school uniforms and educational resources.
- Project Luangwa:
- Project Luangwa is a small charity based in the UK. They operate in the Luangwa Valley of Zambia. As a part of their activities they arrange for sponsorship of over 100 children and young adults from age 7 upwards. This includes primary, secondary and tertiary education.
- Kindu Trust:
- The Kindu Trust works in Ethiopia offering individual sponsorship for children. They aim to bring financial, educational and medical support to children and their families in Ethiopia, this includes school uniforms and school books. They also help cover the costs of vocational training courses, food and shelter for the sponsored child and their family.
- Link Ethiopia:
- Link Ethiopia are a small charity working to support education in Ethiopia and to increase cultural awareness between young people in Ethiopia and the UK. Sponsoring through Link Ethiopia means helping an individual child with their educational needs, as well as helping the entire school and community through education-focused projects.
- PCF (Philippine Community Fund):
- PCF is a small Southampton based charity who work with disadvantaged children and families living on Tondo dumpsite and in Navotas cemetery in Manila. They recently completed and opened a school made from recycled shipping containers, and their child sponsorship program supports children's education
- International China Concern:
- International China Concern is a Christian Development Organisation that works with disabled, abandoned children in China, and they offer a child sponsorship scheme for the children in their care.
- EdUKaid are a small UK based 'hands on' charity that are working towards bringing about lasting changes in rural Tanzania. The Child Sponsorship project is one of four programmes that they support.
- Practical Compassion for Destitute Children
- A small charity dedicated to helping children in the Holy Land. They act at the point of crisis, regardless of race, creed or colour; providing with prayer, financial and practical help.
- Smile International
- Smile International are a Christian charity who help over 400 children across five countries in Africa, Asia and Europe to help alleviate poverty and suffering through various programmes. Child sponsorship costs £20 and helps provide education, food, equipment, uniforms and healthcare to children who are in need. Children are helped regardless of their background and for every £1 received, at least 88% goes towards helping children get a better start in life.