Reversed roles: This major charity is now letting poor kids choose their donors

World Vision, a Christian charity based in Seattle, is one of the largest nonprofits working in global health and development, with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The group raises money for children with a sponsorship model: Americans browse through folders filled with images of children in the communities World Vision wants to serve, and pick out a child to sponsor with monthly payments.

It’s a model that does extraordinarily well at one important thing — getting wealthy Americans, who often don’t think much about addressing poverty overseas, to commit to giving to some of the world’s poorest people. World Vision has moved a lot of money to areas where people experience extreme poverty, and there’s no question that it has saved and improved many lives in doing so. Now, they’re changing their model to give the kids more choice, too.

The change is a welcome corrective. For all the good World Vision does, something about its original model can feel troubling. Isn’t there something off about looking through pictures of people to pick the one you want to help? Aren’t the power dynamics that haunt international charity particularly present here? Do the cuter children deserve sponsors more? Beyond this, waiting and hoping to be chosen as a child in need is obviously a frustrating and, depending on the outcome, sometimes devastating experience for kids.

So World Vision is trying something different. Under their new model, announced last week, people who’d like to sponsor a child take pictures of themselves. The pictures are then presented to children at a community-wide event, and the children select the people they want as a sponsor. The kids go home with a picture of the sponsors they’ve chosen, and the sponsors find out a short time later that a child has selected them.

It’s a delightful way of changing up how we think about international charity. It also seems to be working — that is, providing a satisfying experience for recipients while building new interest among donors.

Solution News Source

Reversed roles: This major charity is now letting poor kids choose their donors

World Vision, a Christian charity based in Seattle, is one of the largest nonprofits working in global health and development, with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The group raises money for children with a sponsorship model: Americans browse through folders filled with images of children in the communities World Vision wants to serve, and pick out a child to sponsor with monthly payments.

It’s a model that does extraordinarily well at one important thing — getting wealthy Americans, who often don’t think much about addressing poverty overseas, to commit to giving to some of the world’s poorest people. World Vision has moved a lot of money to areas where people experience extreme poverty, and there’s no question that it has saved and improved many lives in doing so. Now, they’re changing their model to give the kids more choice, too.

The change is a welcome corrective. For all the good World Vision does, something about its original model can feel troubling. Isn’t there something off about looking through pictures of people to pick the one you want to help? Aren’t the power dynamics that haunt international charity particularly present here? Do the cuter children deserve sponsors more? Beyond this, waiting and hoping to be chosen as a child in need is obviously a frustrating and, depending on the outcome, sometimes devastating experience for kids.

So World Vision is trying something different. Under their new model, announced last week, people who’d like to sponsor a child take pictures of themselves. The pictures are then presented to children at a community-wide event, and the children select the people they want as a sponsor. The kids go home with a picture of the sponsors they’ve chosen, and the sponsors find out a short time later that a child has selected them.

It’s a delightful way of changing up how we think about international charity. It also seems to be working — that is, providing a satisfying experience for recipients while building new interest among donors.

Solution News Source

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