I'm going to assume that LOTS of people are new sponsors seeing as over 3000 children were sponsored last month. If you're not a sponsor and want to be a sponsor go here.
So now you're sponsoring a child. The picture and information about the child has come in the mail. I sent in my first payment. What happens now?
There are three main aspects of sponsorship: financial support, social support, spiritual support. Don't worry, it's really easy and really fun.
1. Financial support is perhaps the most obvious. Every month $38 needs to be paid. There is some flexibility with this. You can mail money every month (although this is not preferred). You can pay online every month (it is a very safe transaction). Or you can arrange to have Compassion take the proper amount of money out of your account for you every month (so you don't have to do a thing!) There is also some flexibility for paying every month. For example, it's easier for my family to pay quarterly (once every three months, or four times a year) so we pay a larger sum then instead of individually each month. This does not harm the child in any way.
In addition to the monthly payments there are other ways you can help your child and his/her family as well. You are allowed to send monetary birthday gifts (gifts will be bought for them in country). You are allowed to send monetary Christmas gifts. The Christmas gifts go into a large pool of all of the monetary gifts received from sponsors and donors. This money is divided equally among every single child in the entire Compassion program (those that have sponsors and those that do not) so every single child gets a gift. Finally, you can give individual and family gifts.
If you know there is a specific need in the family (or even if you don't and just want to give them a little extra help) you can send up to $1000 throughout the year of family gifts. When you give these gifts you can indicate what the money should be used for if you have a preference (for example school supplies, clothes, a guitar, a bike, a new stove, etc.) If no preference is given the money will be used for whatever the family needs the most.
2. Social support involves writing letters and developing a relationship with the child. I will talk more about letter writing because of how vital it is but I want to try and stress right now how important this is to the child. Many children don't fully understand what a sponsor is and what their sponsor does until they get the letters. For many of the children, your letters of love and support are the only forms of love and support they receive. I don't know if that upsets people the way it does me, but I find it incredibly sad to think that there are children in the world that do not feel loved, do not feel important, do not feel supported, needed, or that their dreams can come true. You can be the one that gives them the hope and the love that they so desperately want.
Again, I'll talk more about letter-writing in the near future including tips of what to write about and the kinds of things you can send in the mail. I'll even give an example of a recent letter I wrote to my sponsor child, Isadora, and my correspondent child, Guerby.
A quick word about correspondent children and what that means. If you are unable to write for whatever reason (church/business/group sponsorship, dislike letter writing, "not a good writer", "no time", etc.) then I strongly encourage you to ask Compassion to wave your letter-writing privilege and assign your child a correspondent. You would continue to financially sponsor your child and hear updates but someone else would socially support your child. I'll talk more about this at a later time too.
3. Spiritual support involves praying for your child. Pray for them and their safety, school, health, security, friendships, family, spiritual growth, happiness, anything and everything! Rest assured that your child is praying for you too! :)
I'll go into more detail into each of these topics in the coming days. If you have any questions about sponsorship or anything related to Compassion International please feel free to ask me in the comments and I will do my best to help. Otherwise, please feel free to call Compassion representative ((800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT.)