Please stop giving money to World Vision. They are misleading you and they are misleading the people who they are trying to help. At the ripe old age of 32 not much blows my mind anymore, but this revelation did.
World Vision do not sponsor children. Yep, you heard that correctly. World Vision do not sponsor children. Although this might seem ridiculous, allow me to man-splain.
Misleading the donor – No sponsorship
The bedrock of World Vision is child sponsorship. The concept is simple and it makes sense. A donor pays a monthly amount of money, which pays directly for the child’s education and other important necessities like uniforms and healthcare.
So when you ‘sponsor’ a child through World Vision, do their school fees get paid? Do they get uniforms? Do they get health care?
The answer is a clear NO. The kid writes you letters, you send them cards, but none of the money you donate benefits that child directly. This might seems absurd, but it’s true. World Vision don’t publicise this clearly, but when you dig a little, they admit it outright. World vision do not sponsor children
“We believe true community development is not about providing money or even services. It lies in helping people discover their God-given potential as human beings, and working together to realize that potential.”
So instead of sponsoring a child, they instead run community projects involving water, education and development.
So why is that so bad?
First it is misleading. Child sponsorship sells and World Vision know it. They are raising money through selling the attractive vision of the donor transforming the life of the individual child they are connected to, but they are not delivering what they sell. They are downright dishonest.
Second, the community development work that World Vision do under the veil of child sponsorship, is unlikely to be effective. Here in Northern Uganda, rich World Vision workers drive expensive trucks, deliver trainings at fancy hotels and write reports espousing the great work they have done. There is little accountability, and no meaningful way to measure the outcome of their work. It is possible that many World Vision programs worldwide do close to zero good. The idea of focusing holistically on a community in order to bring sustainable transformation sounds and feels amazing, but it just doesn’t work.
And this comment just made me angry
“The goal of sponsorship in a community is to help break the cycle of poverty so children and families can step into the future with well-founded hope. When these goals are met, World Vision can move on to serve children with great need in other communities.”
The idea that an NGO can walk in, meet some development goals, fix the communities problems, celebrate and then move on to the next disadvantaged community is ridiculous. The deep seated socioeconomic issues In Northern Ugandan communities can’t be fixed by any NGO, even those far more effective than world vision. Of course we can make a difference and help people’s lives become better, but you can’t ‘fix’ a community in a few years. If you visit communities here that World Vision has been working with for years, you won’t find any objective difference between them and the next village over
Individual child sponsorship on the other hand works.
One study of children properly sponsored by the NGO Compassion, showed that “sponsored children realize 1.38 more years of schooling than their unsponsored siblings and 1.79 more years of schooling than their unsponsored peers”. Sponsored children were also more likely to get jobs. Other studies have shown similar positive results.
When 16 economists were surveyed, child sponsorship ranked 4th on their list of most effective interventions. I am not claiming that child sponsorship is necessarily the best way to spend money, but real sponsorship is effective, and transforms children’s lives.
Misleading the children – Exploit the most vulnerable
World Vision are piloting an ‘exciting, innovative new system’. Instead of the sponsor choosing the child, the child chooses the sponsor! They select the “most disadvantaged kids” in the community, put them in front of a photo board of smiling rich white people, and they select their sponsor. It seems like a great idea. Disrupting the system, turning the tide, shifting the power balance from the rich to the poor and all that.
Except that the process is a farcical and twisted public relations exercise. After the child chooses their ‘sponsor’, they do not benefit directly. It is not fair to pair a rich white Westener, with a poor Ugandan, when the poor Ugandan doesn’t get anything meaningful from the relationship, except a few letters. The poorest children are therefore exploited to raise money for a program which doesn’t directly benefit them. This makes me sick inside.
So World vision doesn’t sponsor children. Both the donor and the children are misled, and the money instead goes to unproven, money sink ‘community development’ programs
So what could World Vision do to change my mind?
- Get rid of the word sponsorship. Change your marketing. Start promoting your community programs, because that’s what you are doing, not sponsoring children.
- Allow external organisations to do meaningful research on your community programs and prove to me that they are doing more than zero good.
- Perhaps just go back to actually sponsoring kids. Nothing wrong with that!
And that’s why you should not give money to World Vision right now. There are so, so many other great ways to give and make a huge impact so why give your money to a dishonest, ineffective organisation?
I would love any questions or feedback about this, and if you agree with me I’d encourage you to share this and get the message out there.