World Vision International

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World Vision International
World Vision logo 2017.png
FounderRev. Bob Pierce[1]
TypeReligious nonprofit organization[2][3]
Legal status501(c)(3)[4]
FocusWell-being of all people, especially children.
    • Monrovia, California, U.S. (administrative center, World Vision International board)
    • London, U.K. (executive office and international headquarters)
Area served
90 countries
MethodTransformational Development through emergency relief, community development and policy and advocacy
President, Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Morley[5]
Board Chair, Australia
Donna Shepherd[5]
Board Chair, Colombia
Maria Consuelo Campos[5]
Board Chair, Mali
Soriba Joseph Camara[5]
US$2.9 billion (2019)[6]
37,000 employees
Formerly called
World Vision Inc.

World Vision International is an evangelical[7][8] Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. It prefers to present itself as interdenominational and also employs staff from non-evangelical Christian denominations.[9] It was founded in 1950 by Robert Pierce as a service organization, with the intent to meet the emergency needs of missionaries.[8] In 1975, development work was added to World Vision's objectives.[8] It is active in more than 90 countries with a total revenue including grants, product and foreign donations of USD 2.90 billion (2019).


Key dates of World Vision
1950Reverend Robert Pierce forms World Vision.
1953Pierce begins the World Vision sponsorship program with photographs of needy children.
1967Pierce resigns from World Vision.
1970sWorld Vision's international structure is established.
1979World Vision operates offices in 40 countries.
1989World Vision operates offices in 55 countries.
1996Dean Hirsch is appointed president.
1999Richard Stearns is appointed US group president.
2004After tripling during the previous eight years, World Vision's budget reaches $1.5 billion.
2007World Vision ends its 57th year with 26,000 employees and a budget of $2.6 billion.
2010Kevin Jenkins is appointed president.

The charity was founded in 1950 as World Vision Inc. by Robert Pierce and co-founder Frank Phillips with their first office in Portland, Oregon.[10][8] Initially, the charity operated as a missionary service organization meeting emergency needs in crisis areas in East Asia, opening an office in South Korea in 1954.[11]

In 1967, the Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center (MARC) was founded by Ed Dayton as a division of World Vision International. It became the organizational backbone of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, collected and published data about "unreached people" and also published the "Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas".[12]

During the 1970s, World Vision began training families in the agricultural skills necessary to build small farms, with the aim of promoting long term improvement and self-reliance in the communities.[13]

The organization also began installing water pumps for clean water, which caused infant mortality rates to drop. Volunteers now use the fresh water to teach gardening and irrigation and promote good health.[13]

Joining with 12 other "likeminded organizations" in Wheaton, Illinois in 1977, the organization founded the "Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations" (AERDO), now known as the Accord Network.[citation needed]

In order to restructure, the organization World Vision International was founded in 1977 by Walter Stanley Mooneyham the then president of World Vision.[14][15]

In 1979, it co-founded with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.[16]

During the 1990s, World Vision International began focusing on the needs of children who had been orphaned in Uganda, Romania, and Somalia in response to AIDS, neglect, and civil war, respectively. World Vision began working with communities, health providers, faith-based organisations and people living with HIV and AIDS to encourage an end to stigmatisation, better understanding of HIV prevention and community care for those living with AIDS, and orphans left behind by the pandemic. They also joined the United Nations peacekeeping efforts to help those affected by civil war. World Vision also started to openly promote the international ban on land mines.[13] In 1994 World Vision US moved to Washington State.[17]

According to Forbes magazine, as of December 2014, World Vision is the 11th largest charity in the United States with total revenue of over 981 million dollars.[18]

In 2020, it worked in more than 90 countries and had 37,000 employees.[19]

Organizational structure[edit]

World Vision Partnership now operates as a federation of interdependent national offices governed by the same agreement but with three different levels of central control.

  1. National Offices - under strong central control by World Vision International, registered in the host country as a branch of the main organization.
  2. Intermediate Stage National Offices with a separate board of directors
  3. Interdependently National Registered Offices - autonomous in internal decision but expected to coordinate with World Vision International and bound to the Covenant of Partnership.[20]

The Covenant of Partnership is a document that all national members of the World Vision Partnership have to sign. According to this document all national offices have to accept policies and decisions established by the International Board and must not establish an office or program outside their own national borders without the consent of World Vision International and the host country. Except for direct project founding, all funds intended for outside their national borders have to be remitted through World Vision International. The financial planning and budget principles adopted by the International Board have to be accepted as well as an examination of the financial affairs of the national offices by Partnership representatives.[21]

The president of World Vision International has a seat on all national offices with their own national board.[citation needed]

The partnership offices – located in Geneva, Bangkok, Nairobi, Cyprus, Los Angeles, West Africa, South Africa, London, and San José, Costa Rica – coordinate operations of the organization and represent World Vision in the international arena. For making large scale decisions, the international organization considers opinions from each national office, whether in the developed or developing world.[citation needed]

An international board of directors oversees the World Vision partnership. The full board meets twice a year to appoint senior officers, approve strategic plans and budgets, and determine international policy. The current chairperson of the international board is Donna Shepherd.[22] The international president is Andrew Morley.[23][24]


World Vision's staff comes from a range of Christian denominations. Its staff includes followers of Protestantism, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Around the world its staff includes followers of different religions or none.[25] Its staff participates in daily and weekly services. They stress that one can be a Christian in any culture. However, World Vision also respects other religions that it encounters, stating that "to promote a secular approach to life would be an insult to them".[26] Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US, stated that World Vision has a strict policy against proselytizing, which he describes as "using any kind of coercion or inducement to listen to a religious message before helping someone".[27]

The World Vision Partnership and all of its national members are committed to the concept of transformational development,[28] which is cast in a biblical framework and in which evangelization is an integral part of development work.[29]


WV relief effort in disaster affected areas

Activities include: emergency relief, education, health care, economic development, and promotion of justice.[30] The organization has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, and financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical activities all over the world.[31]

Its approach to aid is to first help people and their communities recognize the resources that lie within them. With support from World Vision, it claims communities transform themselves by carrying out their own development projects in health care, agriculture production, water projects, education, micro-enterprise development, advocacy and other community programs.[citation needed]

It also addresses factors that perpetuate poverty by what it describes as promoting justice. It supports community awareness of the collective ability to address unjust practices and begin working for change. It claims to speak out on issues such as child labor, debt relief for poor nations,[32] and the use of children as combatants in armed conflict. World Vision International has endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It claims to foster opportunities to help reduce conflict levels and to contribute to the peaceful resolution of hostilities and reconciliation of disputes.[33]

World Vision encourages public awareness about the needs of others, the causes of poverty, and the nature of compassionate response.[34] These efforts include collaboration with media and community participation in fundraising.[35] In areas of the world that are considered too dangerous for news organizations to send their crews, World Vision's own videographers supply newscasters with footage of events from these areas.[36] In its communications, the organization claims to uphold the dignity of children and families in presenting explanations of the causes and consequences of poverty, neglect, abuse and war.[37]

The organization was one of the founding members of global IT nonprofit NetHope.[38] With more than 50 years of experience in India, World Vision India works in 24 states across the country through development that is community based, sustainable and transformational emergency response and disaster mitigation, advocacy initiatives that are grassroots based. World Vision India is a national NGO in partnership with a network of over 100 other entities within World Vision International. World Vision India is registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Societies Act with its National Office based in Chennai. Governed by an autonomous Board of Directors, World Vision's programmes are facilitated by close to 1700 staff.[citation needed]

In 2015, World Vision took part in operations to bring earthquake relief to Nepal.[39]

Child sponsorship[edit]

World Vision runs a child sponsorship program which aims to help needy children, families and communities access clean drinking water, sanitation, education, skills for future livelihood, nutrition, health care and participate in an age-appropriate in development processes. World Vision operates on the theory that by changing the lives of children, the child sponsorship program facilitates overall growth and development in the community, as it helps communities to build a better future through empowerment, education, income generation, and self-sufficiency.[40][failed verification]


After his resignation from the post of president, its founder Robert Pierce criticized the organization for its professionalization at the expense of its evangelical faith and founded Samaritan's Purse in 1970.[41]

Accusations of misrepresentation[edit]

World Vision uses the Sponsor a Child method of fundraising.[42]

In a 2008 report on famine in Ethiopia, reporter Andrew Geoghegan, from Australian TV programme Foreign Correspondent, visited his 14-year-old sponsor child. The girl has "been part of a World Vision program all her life" yet says (in translated subtitle) "Until recently, I didn't know I had a sponsor." And when asked about her knowledge of World Vision sponsorship says, "Last time they gave me this jacket and a pen." Geoghegan was disconcerted to find that despite being "told by World Vision that [the girl] was learning English at school, and was improving ... she speaks no English at all".[43]

Community-Based Development[edit]

In response, World Vision stated that "it unapologetically takes a community-based approach to development", in which the money is not directly provided to the family of the sponsored child.[44] The organization argued that the "direct benefit" approach would result in jealousy among other community members without children and would not work.[44]

Foreign Correspondent replied to World Vision concerning child sponsorship, showing contradictions between the organization's literature that creates the impression that donated money goes directly to the sponsor child and evidence of cases where supposedly sponsored children received little if any benefit.[45]

Local corruption[edit]

"In February 2007 ... World Vision received an anonymous tip that lower level World Vision Liberia employees in key positions ... were diverting food deliveries and building supplies for personal gain. World Vision immediately launched an investigation into the allegations, sending auditors to [their] field sites.[46] Through this extensive internal audit, World Vision uncovered the nature and extent of the alleged violations and furnished detailed documentation that assisted the U.S. Government's subsequent investigation."[citation needed]

Relationship with U.S. government[edit]

Ian Buchanan, author of Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity, has claimed that World Vision is effectively an arm of the United States Department of State.[47]

Same-sex marriage ban[edit]

On March 24, 2014, the United States branch of World Vision announced that it would no longer ban employees from being in same-sex marriages.[48] Facing protests from donors and the larger evangelical community after the announcement, World Vision reversed the policy change two days later.[49][50]


The political weekly Tehelka has cited World Vision India's involvement with AD2000 as proof of evangelism.[51] Radhakant Nayak, a leader of World Vision's local chapter in Orissa, was also accused by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of being involved in the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda.[52][53] World Vision India condemned the murder and denied any involvement, pointing out its anti-proselytizing policy.[54] Valerie Tarico, a commentator on religious and social topics, points out that World Vision defines proselytism as "Proselytism takes place whenever assistance is offered on condition that people must listen or respond to a message or as an inducement to leave one and join another part of the Christian church." which does not in general exclude evangelism. Furthermore, she mentions the phrase "serving as a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ" as part of World Vision's description of its mission and identifies the word "witness" as an evangelical code word for seeking converts.[55]

Israel and Palestine[edit]

In 1982, after World Vision publicly criticized Israel's actions in Palestinian refugee camps near Sidon and Tyre, it came under attack from conservative evangelicals and the government of Israel. In spite of this pressure, World Vision president Mooneyham presented to the eight hundred thousand readers of World Vision Magazine a report "showing 255 bodies and ankle-deep body fluids left in a school basement by an Israeli bomb."[56] In the September 1982 issue of World Vision Magazine President Stanley Mooneyham was quoted describing Israeli actions with the behavior of Hitler's army, "reminiscent of Warsaw".[57] In the same month Mooneyham was forced to resign when, according to former World Vision employee Ken Waters, his leadership style was criticized; he was replaced as President by Ted Engstrom.[58]

In February 2012, based on information provided by the Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, World Vision Australia allegedly provided "financial aid to a Gaza-based terrorist group", the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which they also alleged is a "front for terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine". WV had "suspended its dealings" with UAWC until the outcome of the investigation.[59][60] WV resumed working with UAWC after AusAID and World Vision found the allegations were unfounded.[61] The Israel Law Center considers World Vision's response to be a whitewash and maintains that the allegations have not been refuted.[62]

On June 15, 2016, Mohammad El Halabi, manager of World Vision in Gaza, was arrested at the Erez border crossing and charged by Israeli prosecutors with channeling its funds directly to Hamas, a listed terror organization.[63] A senior official with Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, stated that Halabi was recruited by the military wing of Hamas in 2004 and instructed to penetrate World Vision.[63][64][65] According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Halabi is accused of transferring cash to Hamas to help it in digging military tunnels and purchasing weapons.[65] Muhammad Mahmoud, Halabi's lawyer, told Haaretz that his client has nothing to do with Hamas and that the fact that the investigation had lasted 55 days proves that there is a problem with evidence.[65] Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency claims that about $48 million of World Vision resources were funneled to Hamas in just six years and another $80,000 was used for building a Hamas position in Beit Hanon and for paying salaries of Hamas members who fought against Israel in the 2014 war. World Vision confirmed that its funds are spent in accordance with legal requirements that contribute to peace and that the charity works closely with the UN and Red Cross.[66] The charity initially defended Halabi as a "humanitarian".[67]

In August 2016, Israeli officials claimed that the World Vision organization was providing the military wing of Hamas with tens of millions of dollars in Gaza. World Vision has denounced these allegations which come amid Israeli campaigns against the non-governmental organizations that worked with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[68][69]

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade immediately suspended all funding of Palestinian programs by World Vision.[70] World Vision Australia chief executive, Tim Costello, accepted this move as being the correct thing to do pending a proper investigation of the allegations.[71][72] A review of the Australian government came to the conclusion that no Australian taxpayer money was diverted to Hamas.[73]

Notable affiliated persons[edit]


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  45. ^ ABC Material's Foreign Correspondent, Foreign Correspondent story from Ethiopia broadcast, broadcast on November 25, 2008, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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External links[edit]