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Frequently asked questions about child sponsorship

Here you'll find the answers to common questions we receive about sponsoring a child or an SOS Children's Village.

Two little girls at nursery, hands up ready to answer teacher's question
It's question time at this SOS Nursery in Gulu, Uganda

If you have a question about SOS Children in general, we hope we can answer it for you in About our charity or Our work

If your question is about fundraising or corporate partnerships, have a look at our Get involved section. Alternatively, if you'd like to talk to us, get in touch

Your sponsorship

Your sponsored child

Your sponsorship money

Other information

How does it work?

It takes a few minutes to set-up your sponsorship online or over the phone. You can set up a monthly Direct Debit of £20 (many donors choose to give more), or make regular donations by debit or credit card.  

We will then send you an email to confirm your sponsorship. Within 1-2 weeks we will send you a welcome pack, which will introduce you to your sponsored child. This includes a photo of your sponsored child, their name, and some background information about their childhood and circumstances.

There are two types of sponsorship to choose from:

1. Sponsor a child living in an SOS Children’s Village

If you help us this way, you’ll be giving long-term support to a child in need. You'll be providing an orphaned or abandoned child with a permanent, caring home in an SOS Children’s Village. They will receive quality education, healthcare, and tailored services to support their development. Within their SOS family, they are cared for by an SOS mother and grow up alongside their biological and SOS siblings. 

Your sponsored child will have more than one sponsor, often from different countries. This way they’ll know that a number of friends care for and support them, and it’ll also make their future more financially secure.

Sponsor a child now

2. Sponsor an SOS Children’s Village

Alternatively, you can sponsor an entire SOS Children’s Village. This helps to ensure all the children benefit from an education, medical care, food and clothing. You will be helping every child to enjoy a happy and stable childhood and look forward to a brighter future. All of our medical facilities, schools and welfare centres also help the wider community.

Sponsor a Village now

A group of boys push a little boy along on a tricycle
Young boys playing at SOS Children's Village Hyderabad, India

Will you keep me updated with what my sponsorship is achieving?

Yes. You will receive a letter twice a year from our colleagues in the country where you are sponsoring, at Christmas and again in the summer. You can take a look at past sponsorship updates on our website. 

We’ll also send you our magazine, Family Matters, which is full of stories about our work around the world. If we have your email address, you can choose to receive our monthly email newsletter.

Can I sponsor a child as a gift for someone else?

Yes! Child sponsorship is a wonderful present which enriches the lives of the recipient and their sponsored child. You can set up a gift sponsorship at any time. 

Simply click on the sponsor a child button and tell us in the ‘special instructions’ box the name and address of the person receiving the gift. They will receive a sponsorship welcome pack with a photo and details of their sponsored child, as well as regular updates. These updates will be sent directly to the gift recipient twice a year, while correspondence about financial details of the sponsorship will be sent to you.

Find out more about giving child sponsorship as a Christmas gift.

How long do I have to be a sponsor for?

There is no minimum or maximum period. If, for whatever reason, you wish to stop sponsoring your SOS child or Children's Village just get in touch and let us know.

How many sponsors will my child have?

Your child will have up to 10 sponsors worldwide. If you would like to be the sole sponsor of a child, consider sponsoring in Pakistan, where the system works a little differently. Click here to learn more.

How is SOS Children different to other child sponsorship charities?

Our supporters offer unique family care to children who have no one else to look after them. When you sponsor a child with SOS Children, you give an orphaned or abandoned child a home in an SOS family, the love of a devoted SOS mother, education and healthcare.

Supporters David and Anne visited the Children's Village in Bakoteh in the Gambia; home to their sponsored child, Kanny. They were delighted to see Bakoteh's most vulnerable children safe and secure in happy families: “Over a hundred orphaned and abandoned children are being brought up in a loving environment, which is just about as close as you can get to that of a natural family.” Learn more about how child sponsorship with SOS Children is special.

Can I choose the child I sponsor?

Although you cannot choose a specific child, we will do our best to match your preferences. You can tell us whether you would like to sponsor a boy or girl, an approximate age, and which country you would like to sponsor in. If for some reason you feel the first child you are sent is not suitable, we will try to help.

Can I choose to sponsor a child from a particular country?

Yes. There are over 540 SOS Children’s Villages in 125 countries around the world. Many of these are home to children who you can sponsor. You can see the countries we work in on our where to sponsor page.  If you don't have a preference, simply do not add any special instructions to the sponsorship form and we will choose a child where the need is greatest.

Four boys running through an SOS Village
Running through SOS Children's Village Arusha, Tanzania

What religion will my sponsored child be?

Like most families, children in SOS families are generally brought up in their mother's faith until they are old enough to make decisions for themselves. Many Children's Villages have families of different faiths living side by side. If a child arrives in a Children's Village with a particular faith we will try to place them with an SOS mother of the same faith. In practice this means that children are often brought up in the prevailing religion of their country, if there is one. Some SOS families are made up of children from a mixture of religious backgrounds, and we always seek to raise them in accordance with their parents' preferences until they are old enough to decide for themselves.

We do not try to introduce different religions or cultures into a region, and we respect the local culture in its entirety. There are only a very small number of exceptions to this – for instance, we prohibit the physical punishment of children even if local culture and law allows it.

Can I write to and visit the children I sponsor?

You are welcome to send letters to your sponsored child, and children in SOS families like receiving letters. However, we don't make children reply to every letter. Some children do so themselves and sometimes they correspond frequently with sponsors, especially if they speak the same language.

We have thought a lot about this, and realise that in general that this is the polite thing to do in British society. But our primary concern is the welfare and happiness of the child, and we would like the child to feel the love and support they are getting is unconditional. Also, a mother with ten children to care for does not always have the chance to sit down with each one and help them write a letter.

It is indeed possible to visit a Village. However, the privacy of all the children in our care and their right to a normal upbringing will always remain our priority. Please get in touch if you would like more information about arranging a visit to a Village.

Can you help me with international adoption?

We cannot help with adopting a child. Our charity believes that every child should grow up in a family, where possible in the child's biological family and their familiar environment. This includes growing up within their own culture and learning their native language.

We try to achieve this through our community outreach programmes which help vulnerable families to stay together. Secondly, when a child is orphaned or abandonded, and not able to live with their own family, we work closely with local child welfare authorities to find a new, caring home for that child. This may be to join an SOS family in a nearby Children's Village, where they will be kept together with their natural siblings.

Although we understand adoption is one path to finding care for a child, we believe that local possibilities to be exhausted first. If you would like to support one of the children in our care so that they can receive all they need to thrive, you are welcome to sponsor a child.

SOS children looking up at camera showing thumbs up
Thumbs up at SOS Children's Village Sao Paulo-Poá, Brazil

Where does the money go?

100% of sponsorship donations goes towards the care of children, with no deductions for UK admin. 

Since children live with an SOS mother in families of around 10 children, we do not split budgets down child by child. As in most families, the caregiver is responsible for spending for the whole family. This means that sponsorship money provides SOS mothers with a budget to buy food, school uniforms and everything else for their SOS family and the running of their household.

Some sponsorship money will be used to support the running of the Children's Village and supporting facilities, such as SOS Schools, SOS Youth Homes and SOS Medical Centres. In this way, your sponsorship ensures your sponsored child receives all they need to reach their potential, including education and healthcare.

Where sponsors give additional gifts to the child for Christmas or birthdays we make sure that this money is used for that specific child (we accept financial donations, which are put into a savings account for that child).

How much of my money will go to my sponsored child or Village?

We guarantee that every penny is spent on the care of children, with no deductions for UK admin. Sponsorship donations are sent to the SOS Children's Village and go into a pot, from which each child and their new family are clothed, fed and educated.

To ensure that no sponsored child goes without care, some flexibility is needed. To allow for this, a minimum of 85% of each sponsorship payment will go to your child or Village, and up to 15% may be transferred to help sponsored children in SOS Children’s Villages which are underfunded. This will only be done when necessary, and funds will only come from Villages with sufficient resources to ensure that the children there continue to receive the same high standards of care as ever.

So how do you pay for your running costs, newsletters, advertising etc.?

When people pay us directly, and Gift Aid their donation, we can reclaim this tax and this is used to pay for the admin costs of sponsorship. When people pay for sponsorship through payroll giving for example, the tax is already reclaimed, so we cover the admin costs of sponsorship from our general funds. Some donations from other supporters, such as companies and regular donors who do not sponsor, are used to pay our admin costs.

Find out more about Gift Aid.

Can the cost of sponsorship rise?

If the cost of sponsorship rises we tell donors. However, existing donors may carry on paying their existing rate unless the difference becomes too great.

I don't want to sponsor a child, but would still like to support your work. Is this possible?

Yes. There are many ways you can help. You can:

Read about other ways to give.

We also support payroll giving for child sponsorship and regular donations, so you can donate out of your gross salary before your wages are taxed. Find out more about payroll giving.

Have a look inside the Sponsorship Handbook

Thumbnail image of sponsorship handbook

We send you this handbook when you sponsor a child or a Village. It's a really useful guide to your sponsorship with SOS Children, and we hope it will answer any further questions you have.

Download the handbook (pdf).

My question isn't answered here. How do I contact you?

If you can't find the answer to your question here, please do get in touch – our sponsorship team would be delighted to hear from you.

Email: info@soschildrensvillages.org.uk

Phone: +44 (0) 1223 365589

Write:  SOS Children's Villages
Terrington House
13-15 Hills Road

More information about child sponsorship

Read testimonials from child sponsors and find out more about being a sponsor. The SOS model is not for everyone, and our sponsor a child comparison site compares different child sponsorship charities so you can choose the option that suits you best.

You can sponsor a child online today.


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