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Facts and figures

Although well-known in many parts of the world, in other countries many people have never heard of our work. That's why we've collected some facts and figures about SOS Children's Villages to show you the long-term and wide-ranging impact we have.

Here, you can learn how many countries we work in, when we were founded and what we mean when we say “SOS”. If you are looking for financial figures, please see our financial accounts.

Thank you. Your support has helped us change the lives of thousands of children at crossroads every year.

Our impact in numbers

  • We have Children's Villages in 125 countries around the world.
  • There are 573 SOS Children’s Villages (with 38 more under construction).
  • World map of all SOS projectsOver 60,000 children are cared for in SOS Villages.
  • 300,000 children are supported by our work.
  • 425 SOS Youth Homes provide a shared home for young people who grew up in an SOS Children's Village. In SOS Youth Homes, we guide these youngsters towards a life of independence.
  • Over 100,000 children receive an education in our SOS Nurseries, SOS Primary Schools and SOS Secondary Schools.
  • More than 1 million vulnerable children and their family members are supported through our programmes, including those above and our community outreach programmes and SOS Medical Centres.

Historic milestones

If you'd like to learn more about how we got to where we are now, discover the story of SOS Children...

Our emblem

SOS Children's emblemThe distinctive blue and white emblem of SOS Children's Villages has a special meaning to it, and tells a story about what we do and why.

  • The blue frame means protection and security – enjoyed by children who live in SOS Villages. 
  • The line represents stability and reliability, which we provide to all children in our care, as well as those being supported by family strengthening programmes.
  • The plant in the middle is for growth and hope; the growth of children reaching their potential, and their hope for the future – given to them by child sponsors.
  • And the boy and the girl? They represent siblings, community and belonging. They're also a reminder that children are central to everything we do.

“SOS” – what do we mean?

When you see “SOS” you probably have an idea of what it stands for. Perhaps “Save Our Souls” or “Save Our Ship”. It's widely recognised as a call for help by those in urgent need.

A girl walking past a sign bearing the SOS emblem

However, while some of this meaning carries over to our work, “SOS” actually stands for Societas Socialis – which means “a just and fair society” in Latin. When our charity's founder began to raise funds for orphaned children in Austria after the Second World War, his ambition was to create a socially responsible society that cared for vulnerable children. For Hermann Gmeiner and his supporters, this is what SOS meant.  

When our charity was officially founded in 1949, Hermann named it “SOS Children's Villages”. The “SOS” in our name emphasises that a responsible and just society takes care of lone children, and also that children in urgent need are calling for help.

Orphans – what do we mean?

A smiling girl sitting at her school desk, looking at camera

  • Worldwide, 163 million children have lost at least one parent. 
  • 18.5 million of these children have lost both parents (these children are sometimes referred to as “double orphans”). 
  • 17.8 million of these children have lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS.

Sometimes we call ourselves the “world's largest charity for orphans”, and sometimes “the world's largest charity for orphaned and abandoned children”. In reality, different people understand different things by the term “orphan”, and there is no one clear definition.

UNICEF defines an orphan as any child up to 18 who has lost one parent, and uses the term “double orphan” to indicate a child with two deceased parents.

What we mean is that SOS Children's Villages looks after children whose parents are not there to care for them and have no one else to look after them. We are quite distinctive among charities of our size in having a specific mission to provide loving homes, stable relationships and a future for children with no-one else. No other charity with this primary mission is as big as SOS Children.

You can help a child who has been orphaned or abandoned to have a new life in a loving family home. Learn more about sponsoring a child with us.

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SOS Children cares for orphaned and abandoned children in around 125 countries worldwide.