Compassion International

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Compassion International
MottoReleasing children from poverty in Jesus' name
FounderEverett Swanson
TypeChristian child sponsorship organization
  • 12290 Voyager Parkway
    Colorado Springs, CO 80921
    United States
Area served
26 Countries in Africa, Asia, The Caribbean, Central America, North America and South America
Key people
Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado (President and CEO)
Increase US$657,748,746 (2013)[2]
ExpensesProgram Services:
Increase US$539,511,812 (2013)[2]

Support Activities:
Increase US$105,453,519 (2013)[2]

Total Expenses:
Increase US$644,965,331 (2013)[2]

Compassion International is a Christian humanitarian aid child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. Compassion International, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, functions in 25 countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, and Kenya. The organization provides aid to more than 1,700,000 children. The chairman of the board is Karen Kemps Wesolowski, and Santiago Mellado is the President and CEO.[4]


The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea. He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war. In 1953, he began to raise funds and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month.[5] The name of the association changed to Compassion in 1963, inspired by Jesus' words "I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry" (Matthew 15.32).

Donating countries[edit]

Compassion International accepts contributions from a number of countries. Below are details on some of its coordinating organizations.


Compassion Canada was formed in 1963. This was the organization's Canadian branch. Based in London, Ontario, it was founded by Bob and Janet Forsyth of Blenheim, Ontario, who wanted to expand Compassion's ministry from the United States to Canada.[6]


Compassion Suisse was formed in 2003. This was the organization's Swiss branch. Its original offices were located in Concise, were relocated to Yverdon-les-Bains in 2009.


Compassion helps those in impoverished areas using a holistic three-phase approach. This approach goes well beyond simply providing food and medical aid and also involves education and training to prepare the individuals for contributing back to their community.[7]

Child Survival Program[edit]

The first stage of Compassion's model is their Child Survival Program. This program provides prenatal care, nutrition, health care, infant survival training, spiritual guidance and education, and support through the local church for mothers of at-risk infants.[8]

Child Sponsorship Program[edit]

The second stage is sponsorship of children. Children in the program are provided food and clean water, medical care, education, life-skills training, and spiritual guidance through a direct sponsorship. Sponsored children are selected by the sponsors and two-way communication is encouraged between the sponsored child and the sponsor. As of October 2016 the cost to sponsor a child through Compassion is $38 per month. There are currently over 1 million children worldwide in this program.[9]

Sponsors are able to visit their sponsored children through trips planned by Compassion International. Compassion's goal is to provide a trip to each country every other year. Compassion coordinates every aspect of the trip including travel, meals, tips and gratuities, fees related to the travel, and sightseeing fares.[10]

Compassion operated in India for 48 years, with its $45 million in transfers a year, making it India's largest single foreign donor.[11] Compassion provided services under its Child Sponsor Program to 145,000 Indian children.[11] In 2015, Compassion affiliates' offices were raided by tax investigators seeking evidence whether it was funding religious conversions.[11] Compassion said it was then forced to direct funding to non-Christian Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh groups.[11] Compassion refused to do so as it would be a misuse of funds that donors all around the world trusted them with. After talks back and forth, In 2017, the Government of India barred Compassion from transferring funds into India, forcing to group to close its operations in that country.[11] The Ministry of External Affair later clarified that the ban had nothing to do with the ideology of Compassion International.[12]

Leadership Development Program[edit]

In the final stage of Compassion's approach is the Leadership Development program. This program is available to graduates of the Child Sponsorship program and provides leadership related training from various sources. This program ensures that poverty is not a roadblock for tomorrow's leaders to reach their full potential.[13] This program is currently being merged with the Child Sponsorship Program in order to prepare a wider spectrum of children for life after they graduate.[14]

Countries of operation[edit]

Compassion provides child development aid to children and families in 25 countries.[citation needed] Each country's office is staffed by local personnel.


Compassion International currently holds a rating of three stars (out of four) from Charity Navigator,[15] a grade of "A" from the American Institute of Philanthropy[16] and met the "20 Standards for Charity Accountability" from the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.[17]

Through 2015, Compassion International has received Charity Navigator's highest four star rating for 15 consecutive years, thereby receiving special recognition on their "10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings" list.[18]

An empirical study published in the Journal of Political Economy showed that the sponsorship of children through Compassion International resulted in significantly higher rates of children completing school and greatly improved adult employment outcomes.[19][20] The study, led by University of San Francisco professor Bruce Wydick and involving over 10,000 individuals in six countries, showed that the Compassion child sponsorship program increased the probability of primary school completion by 4.0–7.7%, secondary school completion by 11.6–16.5%, and university completion by 2.1–2.4%. It also increased the probability of salaried employment in adulthood by 5.1–6.3% and the probability of white-collar employment by 6.5–6.7%.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Compassion International". Charity Navigator. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2012–2013" (PDF). Compassion International.
  3. ^ "Mission Statement". Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  5. ^ "Child Sponsorship - Compassion International". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  6. ^ International Co-Operation for Habitat and Urban Development. Organization for Economic Co-ope. 1997. p. 128. ISBN 92-64-05537-1.
  7. ^ "Stages of Child Development". Compassion International. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "Child Survival Program". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  9. ^ "Child Sponsorship Program". Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  10. ^ "Compassion Trips FAQ". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e Barry, Ellen; Raj, Suhasini (March 8, 2017). "Major Christian Charity Is Closing India Operations Amid a Crackdown". The New York Times. pp. A4. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  12. ^ Zeera, Rosheena (March 9, 2017). "No 'Ideological' Reason Behind Compassion International Ban: MEA". The Quint. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  13. ^ "Leadership Development Program". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  14. ^ "Youth Development Strategy". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  15. ^ "Page at". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  16. ^ Daniel Borochoff (February 20, 2008). "American Institute of Philanthropy at". Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  17. ^ "". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  18. ^ "4 Stars for 15 Years in a Row". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Wydick, Bruce; Glewwe, Paul; Rutledge, Laine (2013), "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes", Journal of Political Economy, 121 (2): 1–8, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1086/670138, JSTOR 10.1086/670138
  20. ^ Bruce Wydick (June 14, 2013). "Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child". Christianity Today. Retrieved June 14, 2013.

External links[edit]