Internet Self Improvement

The 7 Best “Sponsor A Child” Charities to Help a World in Need

Briallyn Smith 18-01-2016

It’s an unfortunate truth that many charities use donations irresponsibly – spending huge amounts of money on fundraising and CEO salaries instead of actually helping those in need.


Having a desire to help others is an amazing thing, but you want to make sure that the money you give is actually doing some good in the world!

Why Sponsor?

Sponsoring is one of the most popular ways for individuals and families to make donations.

A large part of this is because of the personal connection that can be formed across the world through letters, photos, and updates from the program.  For many people, knowing exactly where their money is going is important and helps them feel more confident in the donations that they have made.

In general, pledging a certain amount of money each month towards a sponsorship or a charity initiative that you believe in can be a great financial choice for most people. For many, the monthly amount is easy to work in to your personal budget Make a Personal Budget With Microsoft Excel in 4 Easy Steps Do you have so much debt that it will take decades to pay off? Make a budget and use these Excel tips to pay off your debt sooner. Read More  without breaking the bank and most donations allow you to receive a charitable donation receipt.

Criticisms of Sponsorship Programs



The ethical, economic, and moral implications of International Development are incredibly complicated, and the research that I’ve done on the topic is by no means enough to offer a comprehensive outlook on these topics!

However, it is important to know that donating to charity isn’t as easy as “the rich helping the poor,” as much as we’d like to think so.

Most criticisms of child sponsorship come from the model that was used originally, where the families of sponsored children were given money but others in the community were not. This strategy created conflict within communities, and often caused problems for children and families after a graduation from the program.

Redistributing wealth is hard to do in an effective way that supports the development of communities instead of creating instability and social issues. While it was not necessarily done with bad intentions, charities have created a lot of harm for those they were trying to help in recent history.


Other criticisms of child sponsorship have included cultural confusion (especially with respect to the religious undertones present in many charities), high administrative costs, the perpetuation of negative stereotypes about different cultural groups, and a continued harmful emphasis on Western individuals “saving” children in other countries.

For more reading on this topic, I’d recommend The Rough Guide to a Better World published by the UK Department for International Development and this BBC article entitled “What’s it like to be a Sponsored Child?” – but there are hours upon hours of study on this topic out there!

How have Sponsorship Programs Changed?


Thankfully, many sponsorship programs have learned from the mistakes of the past.


Now instead of sending your donations to a single child, sponsoring programs funnel donations into a community fund that works in cooperation with local experts to enhance the community in ways that makes life better for everyone living there.

These initiatives may look at building new schools, paving roads for better accessibility, increasing local hires, and providing programming for all youth in the area no matter whether or not they are technically sponsored.

While charities may not have it perfect yet, most have learned from the mistakes of the past and are working hard to ensure that they are using your donations to help others in the least harmful and most effective ways possible.

7 of the Best Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Technology has made it incredibly easy to donate to almost any charity you can think of. Between charity apps 7 Apps and Websites to Help You Give Money to Charity Give more money to charity and become a more engaged human citizen by using these 7 apps and websites. Read More that help you donate to local charities with the touch of a finger and websites that give back 5 Easy Ways to Be Charitable in the Year Ahead Read More by donating money earned from advertisements, it really has never been easier to participate in charity.


However, just because these options are easy doesn’t mean that they are the most effective methods.

These seven charities may not have a text to donate 6 Charities That You Can Just Text To Donate Back in early 2010, when Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake, text-to-donate campaigns helped raise the amazing amount of $10 million pretty quickly. Though that campaign is no longer active (you can still mail... Read More feature, but instead were selected because of their high Charity Navigator scores (based on transparency, use of donations, and accountability), the percent of each dollar that goes directly to programming instead of administration or fundraising, the absence of any active religious affiliations, and the success of the programming that they currently have in place.

1. Sponsor Children Around the World and at Home with Save the Children

Sponsorship Type: Donation, gift catalogue, or individual child sponsorship either within the United States or Internationally.

Charity Navigator Rating: 90.29

Money used in Programs: 89.6%

Charity’s Purpose: Save the Children strives to ensure that children in the United States and across the world are protected from harm, have access to medical care, and have education available to them. These goals are supported through a wide range of programs focused on education, emergency response, health and nutrition, HIV and AIDS, U.S. disaster response, and child protection.

2. Sponsor Child-Centred Community Development with PLAN

Sponsorship Type: Donation, gift catalogue, and child, community, or project sponsorships.

Charity Navigator Rating: 95.07

Money used in Programs: 80.4%

Charity’s Purpose:  Plan has been working for over 75 years to ensure that children can live a life of justice, equality, and dignity through programs that focus on education, child protection, child participation, economic security, emergencies, sexual and reproductive health, healthy starts, and water and sanitation. All of Plan’s programs are implemented with the desire to collaboratively develop communities with a child-centred focus.

3. Sponsor a Classroom with DonorsChoose

Sponsorship Type: Supporting individual classrooms across the United States

Charity Navigator Rating: 96.37

Money used in Programs:  93.0%

Charity’s Purpose: Teachers in the United States are often limited in the amount of resources that they can provide their students due to a lack of available funds. DonorsChoose allows you to partner with a classroom project posted on the website by a teacher in need (over 68% of American public schools have posted at least one project on DonorsChoose to-date) by donating any amount you wish towards their project goal.

4. Sponsor Worldwide Healthcare with Direct Relief 

Sponsorship Type: Donation

Charity Navigator Rating: 99.94

Money used in Programs: 99.2%

Charity’s Purpose: Direct Relief places a priority on providing everyone with access to healthcare, both in the United States and worldwide. The charity focuses on programs specific to maternal and child health, disease prevention and treatment, emergency preparedness and response, and strengthening health systems. Direct Relief works in partnership with locally-run facilities in 72 countries, strengthening existing infrastructure and increasing the availability of health care.

5. Sponsor Refugee Services with American Refugee Committee

Sponsorship Type: Donation

Charity Navigator Rating: 92.15

Money used in Programs: 89.1%

Charity’s Purpose: The American Refugee Committee offers hope to refugees and displaced persons through programs that focus on disaster relief, reproductive health care, economic opportunities, gender-based violence prevention and response, and the provision of services that allow refugees to access shelter, clean water, skills training and business development training, and education. With over 39 million persons in the world currently living as refugees or displaced persons, the work being done by ARC in countries like Sudan, Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, and Syria should not be overlooked.

6. Sponsor Access to Clean Water with Charity:Water (97.05)

Sponsorship Type: Donation and the Pipeline investment program.

Charity Navigator Rating: 97.05

Money used in Programs: 83.4%

Charity’s Purpose: Nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide currently live without access to clean water. Accessible clean water gives people (especially women and girls) the chance to improve their health and well-being, and the time to pursue education and income. Charity:Water works with local experts and communities in need to determine a sustainable solution specific to their needs. The charity also provides training to the community about sanitation and hygiene and their new Pipeline initiative ensures that the technology required for water access remains in good repair using local maintenance and repair programs.

7. Sponsor International Small Businesses with Kiva

Sponsorship Type: Microloans

Charity Navigator Rating: 96.90

Money used in Programs: 82.4%

Charity’s Purpose: Kiva challenges the typical understanding of “charity” by providing an infrastructure through which loans are provided to small businesses across the world. Each Kiva donation is applied to a small business of the sponsor’s choice, and is repaid by the business owner as their business grows. Once the loan is repaid, the donation can be applied to another small business. This structure focuses on enabling individuals worldwide to create their own future and is an incredibly positive way to make a difference Kiva: Chage Lives By Lending Money To Other People Read More in the life of small business owners and their families.

Your Preferred Charity Not Listed?

When looking at other charities that you may want to donate to this year, be sure to check out their reputations on sites such as or a similar site for your country (Canadians try Be sure that the money you’re investing is actually making it to the people who need it, and that it isn’t being eaten up by advertising or CEO salaries!

While it’s amazing to help on an international scale, don’t forget about the good that you can be doing close to home – local charities are often at a greater disadvantage when it comes to donations, and they are doing incredible work with people in your immediate community. You can also look into these charities that offer online Christmas help to low income families.

These seven charities are obviously a very small selection of the hundreds of organizations currently doing amazing work in the world.

If there’s a charity that you support that I didn’t include on this list, or if you have a differing opinion about one of the charities I did include, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Image Credit: szefei via

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  1. Jessica Gonzalez
    November 21, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    I am a mother of 3 boys any help will help thank you

    I am trying to get assistance for a one year old boy a 9 year old boy and 14 year old boy deeply appreciate it write me back please thank you for your time

  2. Randie Fisher
    October 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Not really sure who I ask or what to write but I'm in need of help this year for my 4 yr old daughter and my 13 year old son I lost my kids birth certificates and because of that none of the bigger events for angel tree can't help i have copies of them but they need original but by the time i get the money to send off for new ones everything will be over if anyone can help you can find me on Facebook or messenger under Randie Fisher there two profiles mine is the only without abort person in the pic with me

  3. Given chimbo
    October 9, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    How are you people of God my name's are Given chimbo and a Zambian citizen I am running my own orphanage school by the name of THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MAIN. I am spornsering 5 young children and youths at school by 2020 January I will have more than 25 people to help. but I am not doing all i can to these 5 like In terms of buying school uniforms, school shoes, and feeding them all but am able to pay for their school fees I want to do more people of GOD on these younger ones as our future leaders I am looking for spornsers and any other people that I can work in hand with to help these people for more information on what am doing you can contact my mum who has been encurgeing me on what am doing on her line +260977546254 , +260975421591

  4. Norah Benson
    March 22, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    While it is true that any charity should proceed with caution when going into other communities. It is quite offensive to constantly bash Westerners for wanting to help others who are less fortunate. When you have more money, and your money goes farther, it is seriously selfish to not help others less fortunate, and rather than focusing on westerners helping others being bad somehow because they have money, it would be FAR MORE USEFUL to just encourage people to give to solid charities. Also, not just Christian organizations share their religion through charities and it isn't evil. Otherwise proselyting of any type is wrong. For any religion, including atheism.

    We have money, and we SHOULD give it to others in need through charity, instead of being forced to redistribute our wealth through the government. If we can help those less fortunate and we don't, that is the crime. Not causing jealousy and causing erosion of culture. Seriously.

    People will ALWAYS be jealous, while we should reduce things to minimise this, it will never go away. This is why marxist(the ideology that spawned Socialism and Communism) constantly cause division by causing unrest amond the "classes" or "races". The whole point is to make people discontent. When nations like the west become wealthy, and particularly when they are Christian, they are far more charitiable. They are able to help those in need. Even if they pat themselves on the back, so what, they are still helping someone in need.

    If I have to pick between FORCED redistribution of wealth from Marxism, or voluntary redistribution of wealth through charity, I'll pick that. Jealousy be damned. It's just gonna happen, no matter what you. Again, minimize it as best as you can, but it is a fact of life.

  5. mary barcenas
    December 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I plz need help I have been trying for three weeks to get help with Christmas presents and dinner I have three grandsons and two granddaughter we have not recovered from hurricane micheal I really feel bad that we still in the tent. But nobody seems to care so I.just give up my babies don't need presents are food I feel bad but everybody else gets help I know i wantt

    February 2, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    I have liked your help how can I get accessed to it

  7. Doug
    December 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Briallyn is absolutely correct that Charity Navigator is the "bible" in researching charities. But unfortunately it only rates organizations that take in $1 million or more which leaves many excellent and well-run charities unlisted. The "Catch 22" is that many of these smaller charities may never reach $1 million unless they can receive a good rating from Charity Navigator which is currently impossible.

  8. Douglas Chester
    December 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    While most of the charities mentioned are worthy, it's disturbing that the author didn't focus more on the financial compensations paid to some of the executives. Many CEOs of charities are paid outrageous sums of money for running a charitable organization that depends upon private donations for its existence. Apparently they feel that they are exempt from making the financial sacrifices that they constantly urge their donors to make. If making a "quick buck" is their only motivation, they should get a job on Wall Street.

    Staunton, Virginia

    • Briallyn
      December 14, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Hi Doug,

      I appreciate your comment -- you're right, there are a lot of charities out there with poor resource distribution. Charity Navigator, the tool I recommend in the article and one of the ones I used to select these charities, lists many of the top executive salaries so you can factor them in to your final decision.

      Thanks again for your insight,


  9. Jacquie
    June 21, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    This is a list of excellent organizations! I'd also like to recommend Compassion International. Full disclosure though, I do work for Compassion. As an employee, I have seen first hand the amazing work ethic and heart of USA and partner countries to help children in poverty. Compassion does take financial accountability very seriously and you can research us further on Charity Navigator and other sites. Thank you for writing this article Briallynn. Sponsorship in all of its forms is a great way to make difference in the world!

  10. Arthur Luyimbazi
    May 29, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I need sponsors to educate,provide clean water to kids in need in Africa Uganda...please contact me

  11. Patti Woosley
    April 21, 2017 at 5:26 am

    Can you check out Kassanda Children's Aid and let me know if it is a legitimate charity? They are in Uganda.

  12. Martha Joy
    March 24, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Thank you for the good work.
    My name is Nambasa JoyMartha and am in Uganda
    I wish to be helped by someone. am an orphan and taking care of my two brothers yet i have to study but no school fees .if you can support me in any way i will be glad

  13. Lindsay McVety
    March 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Hey! I'd like to suggest World Missions Outreach as an addition to this list. Their sponsorship program is $30/Month, and the funds provide a private education, sustainable resources, food and water, plus classes on how to learn different trades such as farming/gardening, sewing, etc. Their website is

    • Briallyn Smith
      March 9, 2017 at 3:15 am

      Hi Lindsay – thanks so much for your suggestion! I'll definitely have to look into it more, but it sounds like a great program :)

      • Olivia Goode Sellers
        December 7, 2018 at 4:55 pm

        I would love to see a resorce that helps low income or single parents with vehicles, making it easier to work so they are able to provide for thier family, especially in rural areas where most working adults with families are commutting. I live in northern California and a lot of people drive into the city (San Francisco) daily, making there work day longer ,but at least are able to secure a job without the high expenses of city living. However, this is only available for people who have a good reliable car, I think a program that helps in this area would be a tremendous support and serve the rural communities in a way that produces a stronger family financialy then we currently have... Any ideas to maybe begin getting something like this in the works, I would love to be a part of a new opperation to help people in our own communities make a better life for themselves and a true impact on society. I just don't know where or how to begin.

  14. Mandizvidza Herbert
    January 9, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Gd work. Im looking for indidual donors to sponsor my project of making a community based school which caters for orphans , vulnerables and disadvantaged children. Currently having 126 children and three other teachers. Im givin free education to them.

  15. Luke
    December 27, 2016 at 3:34 am is a good one too. All donations go directly to Christian families in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These families take in children as their very own and care for them.

    • Briallyn Smith
      March 9, 2017 at 3:15 am

      Thanks Luke! I'll have to check the website out – that's definitely a geographical area facing a lot of need right now.

  16. Shaun Marshall
    November 10, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I have used "money sense" a Canadian financial magazine that evaluates charities annually to help navigate this minefield. It is kinda like a consumers reports of charities. I have been very disappointed to see many national charities with very poor ratings. Thanks for showing some additional resources.

    • Briallyn Smith
      November 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks so much for the additional resource – I agree with you, when I was doing my research on charities to include in this list I was pretty appalled by the % of donations going to administration at some of the biggest charities!

  17. Becca Dawn
    January 27, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Love the concept behind Kivia - so interesting!

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Isn't it though?! And I think it's one of the ones that is definitely supported by a larger number of International development scholars :)