Getting Started Writing to a Sponsored Child

By Meg Carter, ChildFund Sponsorship Communication Specialist

This is one in a series of posts with suggestions for writing to the child you’re sponsoring through ChildFund.

stacks of lettersThe first few letters you send to the child you sponsor are probably the most difficult to write because you aren’t sure what to write about. Don’t let that discourage you, though.

Imagine that you live in a place where schools have no books, maps, computers, or electricity. The dirt path leading to your village rarely brings visitors. You have never received a letter. In fact, most people you know cannot read or write. Some speak only a local language – never having learned an international one like Spanish, French, Portuguese or English.

Many of the children you sponsor fit this profile, so the brief notes you send to them – cards, letters and photos describing your family and expressing your interest in their lives, cultures and countries – are miraculous in their eyes.

The First Letter
Start by reviewing the narrative of your child and the description of his or her community and local activities that ChildFund provided. The better you understand your child’s background, the easier it will be to correspond.

Culture and religion provide insight into children and family life. Download a PDF file of country information on ChildFund’s website to learn about your child’s regional feasts, holidays and celebrations. You can listen to recordings of traditional music, watch videos of cultural events and even learn a few words in your child’s language.

In your first letter to the child, introduce yourself, explain what led you to sponsor a child and tell why you chose him or her.

If you’ve visited your child’s country, write about when and where you traveled there. If you’re familiar with the culture or religious traditions, reference a recent or upcoming holiday or celebration. Don’t hesitate to include words or phrases in the child’s language if you happen to know any. In my experience, both your child and their family will truly appreciate these signs of your solidarity with them.

Begin by telling your child a little bit about your family, your town and occupation. Ask two or three open-ended questions and let your child know how eager you are to hear from her.

Enclose a photo of yourself, a postcard from your town, or small, flat items that fit easily inside the envelope, like a bookmark, origami paper or stickers. International postage rates change once the weight exceeds one ounce, so limit yourself to a few items each time you write.

Then be patient: ChildFund’s automated system for keeping track of correspondence guarantees your child will respond. If a child is too young to write, you’ll receive letters from a member of the family.

Special Gifts
We ask sponsors not to send packages to their sponsored children because they’re frequently stolen. Even if they do arrive, customs often charges a prohibitive duty tax.

If you would like to give a gift to honor the child’s birthday, Christmas or other occasions, we recommend sending a monetary gift through ChildFund. Amounts between $20 and $50 can purchase locally made products, which benefits not only your child, but also the entrepreneurs in their community.

ChildFund requests a voluntary $3.50 donation when sending monetary gifts to help offset the costs associated with processing, distributing and safely delivering the funds. If you would like our assistance with giving your sponsored child a monetary gift, please call us at 800-776-6767. Our Sponsor Care team will be happy to assist you.

Next: Sample letters for children ages 5 and younger.

6 responses to “Getting Started Writing to a Sponsored Child

  1. A regular monthly letter with words of inspiration and encouragement is SO very important to the children. It’s also very important to explain the delays due to translation so they do not think you have not been writing. I have found that my letters reach my sponsor child much faster than her letters reach me. The last thing you want to hear is they are “anxiously” waiting to receive a letter from you. Always, be sure to date your letters and start by referencing the dates of their letters that you have received since your last letter. This way when crossovers in communication occur they understand. Plus, this allows you to write every month without waiting to send a letter only when you have received one of their letters. This has allowed me to receive FOURTEEN letter from my little buddy in our first year of friendship. They treasure these letters and love our “system”. Throw some $50 special, birthday and Christmas monetary gifts along with this and I promise you will have one VERY happy sponsor child.

  2. I was wondering if ChildFund will be adding the ability to send emails to our sponsored children. It would certainly help reduce expenses and speed up communication. Yes I know the email cannot go directly to the child but other child sponsorship organizations offer this way of communicating and it seems to be working fine. Thank you.

    • We are definitely moving in that direction and have been conducting pilot tests with various country offices with the goal of speeding up communications between sponsor and child. It’s definitely one of our top priorities.

  3. One of the things that I do, when I am out of ideas as to what to write about is to choose a theme, like spring, and write a letter about what spring looks like. And I send pictures. I’ve written about the seasons, about how valuable and loved they are, and my devotionals that I write for my church’s website.