Child didn't receive gift money, until I asked for a thank you?

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I gave 3 children family gifts in November 2015. I still had not received thank you letters by July 2016, about 8 months later. Compassion staff put in a request for thank you letters.

The first letter I received was for a family gift that I gave in 2014, and had received the thank you for in 2015. The letter included the identical photo I had received last year, and the letter (newly written) summarized the same gifts as the thank you did in 2015. This made me feel like the child never received the money I gave at the end of 2015. It appeared as thought the child's center received a request for a thank you, that they had no knowledge of any gifts since the one they had already sent a thank you for, and just recent a thank you for that gift thinking maybe I never received it.

I will say that within a couple weeks I receive a new thank you and a new photo. That made me feel like since I was requesting a thank you the money I gave better get delivered to the child. Where was the money up until then? What were the intentions. I cannot believe that the letter-writing changes in April would have had any impact on a monetary gift that was given in November. I have seen thank you's for money gifts as soon as 2 months in the past.

Just today, August 12, I received thank you's for the money gifts to the other 2 children, 9 months after I gave the money online. Again, I would feel like the money never made it to the centers and the children until I inquired about why I never received a thank you.

Again, I don't want to be seeing these red flags, but they are there. I have seen a lot of excuses in the blog, but what I want to see is transparency. I dearly like the idea of being able to have a relationship with a child in another country, to be able to get to know him and encourage him with my letters, and also to be able to help with gifts that can bring a ray of sunshine and hope into a world of poverty. But are monetary gifts reaching the children? Are letters reaching a specific child? Are children really writing letters to sponsors? Why, why, why would money given as family gifts in 2015 still not have reached the child 8 months later? Would it have ever reached the children if I had not requested thank you's?

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Beth

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Posted 4 years ago

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Adam

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Hi Beth, I'm sorry that you're concerned and upset, but this support forum and these ladies and the rest of us sponsors are all here to help you. We all want to help you. :) Compassion will always make sure that if you send a gift over $60 that you will receive a thank you letter and a photo showing what was purchased with your gift. I honestly believe that's about as transparent as they can be. It sounds to me like Compassion did everything that they could to fulfill this promise to you. That would not lead me to believe that there were ever any ulterior motives. I would attribute the delay in your responses for these specific gifts to the recent changes with the new letter system. I don't see the comments on this forum as Compassion making excuses. Again, I see that as transparency. Thank you for blessing your sponsored children with gifts and for all that you do as a sponsor. God bless you.
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Megan Glavin

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Adam:

Like Beth, I have also given a substantial family gift ($100) and did not receive a thank you or photo of items purchased until I asked Compassion to follow up.  

When more than seven months had passed since the donation, I asked Compassion to follow up.  The Compassion rep asked me to continue to wait another month, but when I persisted, Compassion finally agreed to look into it.

I received the photo and letter 10 months after the gift was given. 

The photo showed the child (not his family)  with about $15 worth of items that appeared to be laundered clothing (though it could have been new, no way to tell).   

Note that my experience occurred BEFORE the letter writing changes.

In addition, I had also sent photos, letters, bookmark, etc., none of which were ever acknowledged in the form letters I received back from the child’s tutor.

I have lived in my sponsored child’s country before (Ecuador) and I know the cash value of items.  I have also seen corruption at the highest levels of society. This type of problem is not limited to Ecuador, but I do not see Compassion ever acknowledging that sponsor funds could be misdirected at some point in the process, and that letters from sponsors might not be delivered.

I have also seen others on Compassion blogs (before the letter writing changes) reporting that they had not received a photo and letter more than six months after submitting a gift of $60 or more. 

I say this respectfully, but I feel you responded to Beth and attributed the delay to the changes in the letter writing system without really researching to see if the problem existed before hand.

I felt like Beth’s primary concern was to know that her sponsored children exist, are actually writing their own letters, and are receiving the gift money.  This is my primary heart’s concern, as well.

However, your response to Beth seemed to be focused on confirming that Compassion fulfilled its responsibility by following up on the letter/photo, and that Compassion representatives (state-side) have no ulterior motives.   

Yes, Compassion did follow up to get the letter/photo, but that does address the underlying concern. As in my own experience (referenced above), Compassion did follow up and I did receive my letter and photo. 

But like Beth, the photo and letter were inappropriate to the gift given and raised even more concerns.

Adam, I feel that your heart (and other Compassion reps)  are in the right place and you truly want to make a difference for the children that Compassion serves. 

But ultimately I conclude (based on my own experience and reading accounts of other sponsors’ experiences) that sponsorship concerns are not truly being acknowledged and addressed.  

In other words, the lack of acknowledgement (via photo and thank you letter) that a family gift was received might indicate that funds were misdirected/stolen or withheld from the family for some reason. 

Compassion will send an inquiry to the field office to request a photo and letter, but there is no confirmation that Compassion is investigating the cause of the late response/non-response. 

Apparently the partner churches agree to send a letter and photo, but then do not follow through.  Compassion apparently does not enforce this agreement, which is critical to the development of trust with the donors.  So I question whether the reports of non-receipt acknowledgement are appropriately managed. 
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Megan Glavin

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Sorry, correction to one of my paragraphs above:

Yes, Compassion did follow up to get the letter/photo, but that does NOT address the underlying concern. As in my own experience (referenced above), Compassion did follow up and I did receive my letter and photo. 
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Adam

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Good morning, Megan. I hope that my comments didn't cause any offense because that was certainly not my intention, and I will try my best to clarify them for you. I don't work for Compassion so I can only speak from my own personal experience as a sponsor and what I've seen here on this support forum and elsewhere on social media.

I have sent several gifts to my sponsored kids and received acknowledgements back that seemed to properly represent the amount of the gift that I sent. In some cases I was surprised with what all my sponsored child's family was able to purchase with what I had given. I see relatively few support requests on this forum regarding gift acknowledgements not having been received, but when I do see them, in every case I have seen Compassion work hard to correct the situation for the sponsor, as it sounds like they have done for you ladies. I don't know exactly how many children Compassion has in their child sponsorship program at this point, but I think it's close to two million. I would say, based on what I've seen, that most gifts that are given are received by the family and acknowledged within the given timeframe, and the cases where an inquiry has to be made in order for a sponsor to receive an acknowledgement are few and far between. I can think of any number of reasons that a sponsor might not receive an acknowledgement for a gift given within the specified timeframe, especially given the distance that these letters travel. Even here in the United States things get lost in our mail system, which is probably one of the best in the world. It might have been that the photo that was taken for your gift acknowledgement that you received was a replacement of the original and it was taken later, when the clothes were not brand new anymore, and that would explain why they appeared to be laundered. I do believe that if Compassion noticed a consistent and unusual trend regarding gift acknowledgements at a specific center that they would investigate the cause of the matter. I have seen cases where Compassion has placed centers on probation for not complying with their standards, until that center is able to make the necessary improvements. That gives me the impression that Compassion monitors child centers closely, not just for financial stewardship and accountability, but to ensure that the program as a whole is being carried out by that center.

I have experienced a slowdown in letters in recent months myself, as I know other sponsors have, while Compassion works to implement the new letter system, which is why I suggested that this was mostly likely the cause in the delay of the letters. I truly believe in this organization and I have a lot of trust in the competency and character of the Compassion staff. I have seen firsthand through my experience as a sponsor that they are genuine and authentic, and that they truly want to do good for children living in poverty around the world. I hope this helps to ease some of your concerns, and again, I apologize if my comments caused any offense. Thank you for helping to lift children out of poverty in Jesus' name, and I hope that you have a blessed weekend.
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heather o

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I have to concur with Adam. The only time I didn't receive a thank you from a gift was when the letter was lost in our mail system here in the U.S.. Even then, Compassion did an inquiry for me to find out what was purchased. I received a full report on what was purchased which was appropriate to the amount sent. I have received pictures when the gift amount sent was $60 or more and even when I sent a package through another sponsor to one of my Ugandan boys. That photo was a precious bonus, his smile would light up a room! I am a correspondent to several children who's financial sponsor sends gifts and I get to read how much they purchased and the photos are there. No, I don't know when the gift was sent but I can tell you the thank you and photo arrived without inquiry (because I do not know when gifts are sent unless I ask and I only ask when they are assigned to me). Does it take longer than 6 months? Maybe, all I know is that they arrive.

We have grown very impatient and less understanding of delays in the first world countries and I believe God uses these delays to teach us patience, faith, and understanding. I am also guilty of being impatient to hear from some of my kiddos, so this post is not meant to be critical of anyone. I am just expressing what is on my heart to say.

I believe that Compassion does an amazing job, especially for the size of the organization! One should expect some issues with delays in an organization the size of Compassion and the massive amounts of gifts and mail that they have to process every day. I think it is time we extend thanks and compassion to Compassion because they are working with us to help change the lives of our precious kiddos and in turn changing our lives too!
(Edited)
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Christina, Employee

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Megan, I'm so sorry that you have not had a good experience with sending your precious Daniel a family gift. I understand your heart is to bless him and his family, and I'm sure they are so grateful to have you as their child's sponsor. Thank you so much for your generosity in giving extra monetary gifts to your children. Please rest assured that your children have received every gift you have given them, monetary or not. All six of your precious kiddos are very real and grateful for the difference you are making in their lives. They write their own letters as long as they are old enough and able to, but sometimes they struggle with what to say. 

I'm so sorry you felt like the photo and letter you received was inappropriate to the gift you gave. I agree with you that it is possible this letter and photo was in response to your $20 birthday gift and not your $100 family gift. I'm so sorry to have to ask this of you, but will you please email me a copy of your thank you letter and photo to us at socialmedia@compassion.com. This will allow us to research this further and contact the field office to ensure this letter and photo is indeed for the correct gift. We care about making sure this issue is resolved for you.

Rest assured, your child did receive your entire gift, even if the photo shows only a few items purchased. Also, as you are probably aware, second hand clothing is often sold at a cheaper price, particularly in developing countries. It is possible that the family decided they could get more for the money if they purchased used clothing instead of new. Also, it is possible that they received other items that were not included in the photo or they deposited the remainder into the bank for your child's future education. These are all real explanations that I have seen with other families in our programs. 

I'm so sorry that it took a long time for you to receive your thank you letter and photo. When you send a financial gift to your child, it can take about three months for your child to receive this gift. This is the length of time that it takes to send the money with our next wire to that country, purchase, and deliver the gift. Once the gift is received at the church, a staff member will arrange a meeting with your child's parents.

We sincerely apologize for any confusion or skepticism this situation has caused for you. Our goal is to serve all of our sponsors and children with excellence, and we make sure that all of our staff and partners have integrity and honesty. I'm so sorry that this experience has caused you to question this. We perform regular audits to ensure that all funds received is used for its intended purpose and not misused in any way. If we ever see funds misused, we will step in to resolve that problem. We do promise a thank you letter and photo for every gift of $60 or more, and we do our very best to uphold that promise.

I'm deeply sorry for the experience you have had, and we will do our very best to resolve this for you as soon as possible. It is our desire and heart to help all our sponsors and we hope to gain back your trust. Thank you so much for partnering with Compassion and changing the lives of your precious children. 
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Katherine

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Beth, I want to thank you for sending those gifts to your kiddos last year. You are such a blessing to them! I definitely understand why you are concerned about the lack of responses to those gifts after all these months. When a sponsor sends a contribution, we do not have the capacity to hold on to those gifts. That's why when a sponsor sends a birthday gift in January even though the child's birthday is in August, we do not wait to send the gift in August. We send it right away. As soon as we receive a gift contribution, we immediately begin the process of sending the funds to the student center and then to the child. The new letter writing system did not cause a delay in your children getting their gifts, but it sounds like it did cause a delay in the thank you responses getting to you. You did absolutely the right thing by contacting us and letting us know that you had not received a response, and again when you received an old thank-you letter. By contacting us, you made us aware that you had not received the letters within the six month time frame, and we were then able to contact the Guatemala office to make them aware of the issue. As you know, there is a backlog of letters in translation going on and while that does not change the fact that the gifts are given to the children right away, it did affect how quickly your gift was acknowledged in a letter.

I may have said this in one of my other responses to you previously, but I think it's worth repeating again and again: take it to the Lord! He knows every hair on the sweet heads of Manuel, Camilo, and Angel. He knows what they are doing right this very second and He knows exactly how and when Compassion and our amazing sponsors and children are going to get through this frustrating time of change. Please pray for these children, sponsors, and Compassion staff that we all have wisdom, patience, and a whole lot of grace and mercy with each other. Thank you so much for all that you do, Beth!
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Beth

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Susan, It sounds like the thank you letter you are seeing in the system will be the letter I have not yet received for the child birthday gift I gave Fredy in January. I will be expecting to receive it as soon as it makes it through the system.

Thank you for pointing out that letters should note when staff writes them.

Regarding the 2 recent thank you letters, hopefully it is just a case that they wanted to be sure they sent what was being requested so they sent both. It does make me feel better to notice that the date on the letter for the most recent gift was written 2 days before the other letter, even though it was received by mail later. And maybe Fredy's handwriting just got neater.  :-)  We will call this part of the issue settled and hopefully thank you letters will be sent out and received much sooner in the future. Again, I'll be watching for the thank you for the January gift.

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Beth

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Susan, Regarding Camilo, I have checked my letter file and my online account. In March 2016 I received a letter from Camilo that he wrote in January 2016 for a gift I gave online October 2015. That was for his birthday, and it is all good. I want to comment that the time frame for those letters was much better than what we have seen this year!

I see that last week Friday, 8-12-16, I received an email for a letter from Camilo. I went to my account to view it. In the letter Camilo thanks me for the family gift I gave in November, which he received in January. With the receipt of this last letter, I have received thank you's for all of the gifts I sent Camilo. And the handwriting all looks the same on Camilo's letters. I just love this child and the letters he writes me! I am only saddened that Camilo has not received any letters that I wrote since April 7. Do these children think that their sponsors quit writing? (I actually haven't written since the middle of July as the letters are just piling up and not being delivered anyway. Camilo has not received any of the letters I wrote in May, June, or July.)

So all looks good now for Camilo, except that he is not receiving my letters for the last 4 months.

Thank you for being attentive to my concerns, Susan.

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Beth

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Susan, Regarding Manuel, I received 2 emails last Friday 8-12-16 notifying me that I had 2 letters from Manuel. I read the letters on my online account.

One letter was dated June 15, 2016 and included a thank you for the gift he received in March (which I gave in January).

The other letter was dated August 9, 2016 and included a thank you for the gift he received in January which I gave in November.

So with these last 2 letters, I have received all the thank you's from Manuel. Perhaps the thank you for the family gift was written later because it did take them time to consider the big purchase, which you pointed out as a possibility in your earlier comments. It would have been quite a decision for the family and staff, and also would have required some arrangements within the community to make sure everything would work out job-wise.

On a positive note, that letter only took 3 days to get delivered to my account after the date that Manuel wrote it!!

Like Camilo, Manuel has not been receiving my letters. Manuel hasn't received any of my letters since the middle of May. Again, I hope that the children don't think that their sponsors quit writing. This child has so much that he and his family have to deal with.

Thank you, again, Susan. As of last Friday I have now received all the thank you's from Manuel.

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Beth

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Susan, To finish up, you must have been looking at the wrong child regarding your reference to a Daniel who received a gift in October. Daniel is not one of mine! Blessings to you!
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Susan

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Beth,

Yes, I was referring to a letter that you have not received yet from Fredy for the January 2016 gift. I am doing everything I can to get that to you as soon as possible. I just wanted to let you know that from what I can tell, he received the gift, wrote the thank you letter, and sent the photo, but the letter and photo are held up at the country office due to letter processing issues we are having. 

I am happy to hear that you have received the thank you letters you were entitled to from Camilo and Manuel. Please rest assured that our staff are explaining to the children in the most developmentally and culturally appropriate way regarding the issues in the letter writing system. The upside is that both sponsors and children will receive several letters at once when we get through to the other side of these issues. They know now and will know once they get these letters that you have not forgotten them. 

I apologize for my mistake. I said "Daniel" for some reason (I am really not sure why I used that name) but I meant to say Fredy. He says in one of the two thank you letters that he received the gift in October but there was no gift sent in October 2015. That said, I am certain he must have been talking about the gift of the same amount given in October 2014 and as we discussed previously he just sent two letters thanking for both the 2015 gift and the 2014 gift. 
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Susan Wolpert McCullough

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I sent Hansi a birthday gift in December of 2015 and a family gift in March, but these haven't been acknowledged, even though I have gotten a a couple of letters from him since then.  (I believe I've gotten three letters from him since I signed up for sponsorship, but he is pretty young, so I haven't thought much of it.)  Still, I would have thought the gifts would have been mentioned, especially after reading these posts.  There was also a livestock gift, but I'm not sure where I gave it, to Hansi's village or somewhere else.  Should I expect a thank you letter from a 6 year old child?

Thanks,
Susan McC
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Christina, Employee

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Susan, I'm so sorry that you haven't received a thank you letter yet from your precious little Hansi! You should receive a thank you letter acknowledging every gift you give no matter the age of your child. However, it can take up to 3 months for your gift to reach him, and then it takes about 3 months for his thank you letter to be delivered to you. So, it can take about 6 months to receive a thank you letter from the time that you sent your gift. Because you sent Hansi a birthday gift in December of 2015, I have sent an inquiry to the field office to make sure he is well and to have him write a thank you letter. We should have a response from our field office in Tanzania within 6-8 weeks. We will be in contact with you as soon as we hear from them. If you haven't received a thank you letter for your family gift by the end of September, please let us know. The generous gift you gave for livestock is placed in a fund, and the next family in great need for income generation through livestock will receive your gift. Regrettably, you will not receive a thank you letter for gifts to funds because you won't know which family it blesses. Rest assured that your gift will be used to greatly bless a family in need! Thank you so much for your loving words and gifts you have given to Hansi!

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