Compassion is withholding our funds due to mishandling at my child's center

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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We received a letter last week stating Compassion is withholding our funds from going to our child and the center/church he belongs to. And this is due to mishandling of funds at the center. Upon speaking with your HQ we learnt that absolutely NO compassion employees work at any of your child development centers. And Compassion does an audit of the centers every 2 years. Moreover we recently received photos of our sponsored child and the photo looks nothing like the child we started sponsoring 18 months ago. Photos can be seen here. http://sgcompassion12.imgur.com/all/ We can email them to anyone if needed
We would like to know why Compassion is not performing a more regular audit for these centers when you are receiving millions of dollars in donations each day. It's heartbreaking to learn that over the course of the last 18 months our sponsored child has not received the care or basic necessities he should have from our donation.
All we have received are glossy letters and photos written by someone else on behalf of our sponsored child. There's not a single letter written from the child himself.
We would like to get answers to our below questions:
- Why is Compassion not conducting more regular audits instead of once every 2 years? Even when you claim that you were aware of the problems in that country.
- Why are there no Compassion employees at any of the centers? Even 1 employee could make a big difference and could have avoided this issue
- Why are the child photos different? Who is our real sponsored child?
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Santosh

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Posted 5 years ago

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Emily

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Official Response
Santosh, thank you so much for your patience in receiving a response back from us as we are closed on the weekends and I just now saw your inquiry. It seems like you have had a disheartening experience so far with your sponsorship and I deeply apologize for any hesitancy this situation has caused for you.  I know it can be very difficult to hear that a project is not following financial policies and also receiving a photo that does not look like your child. When you are giving from the goodness of your heart and investing time, money, and your heart into an organization, you want to trust the organization and have confidence in its stewardship. Please know that our intention is not to deceive you in any way. After reading through these posts, I completely understand that you just want clear answers to your questions and I will do my very best to address them.  

-As for your child’s photo, I am so sorry that you received a photo in the mail that does not look like the child you sponsor. Your child's photo is updated every two years, and on picture day when the children got their photos taken, your child's reference number may have been written on the photo in error. There are often over 200 children in a project and the numbers can be very similar and unfortunately at times, transposed. We certainly try to avoid these errors and our project staff are very careful about making sure information is recorded accurately. After reviewing the photo's you attached, I can see your concern that this is not your child and want to look further into this situation for you. Regrettably, I was unable to locate your account by your name and email address. Could you please post your child's reference number on here or email us your sponsor number at socialmedia@compassion.com? Once I can locate your account, I will contact our field staff in your child's country to get the correct photo and inquire as to why the incorrect photo was sent. You have reached our Compassion USA office. If you sponsor with a different Partner Country office like Canada, you will need to go through that office as we do not have access to those accounts.

-To address your main question about our audits, it is very important to us to ensure that sponsorship funds are making a difference in the lives of the children we serve. Every financial process – from local church-based projects to the International Ministry Center in our Colorado Springs office – undergoes intensive and continual scrutiny. We monitor and evaluate each project in terms of program effectiveness and long-term impact on the individual child. Our corporate documents read that, “It is the policy of Compassion International to engage a nationally recognized independent audit firm to perform a financial audit annually on the global operations of the Organization. Such audits will be performed according to Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.” Here is a blog written by one of our employees that explains Compassion’s relationship with the local church. Compassion employees are paid to visit and check our centers no less than 3 times per year to ensure that they are following policies and handling project activities and funds according to Compassion standards.

-As for how our projects our staffed, just as Andrea mentioned above, Compassion partners with local churches that hold to our statement of faith and are staffed by local people who are able to present the gospel and all aspects of our program in a way that the children will understand within their culture. Our staff in the projects are employed by our ministry and trained on Compassion policies. We feel that the indigenous staff members know the best way to present the gospel and apply God's truth in the children's lives. This is why we do not send employees from the United States to work overseas in our projects. However, we do equip them with training that they need to run the project efficiently and effectively and we monitor everything that takes place in our projects to ensure that they are holding to Compassion's standards. 

I want to encourage you that although the project is on suspension and not receiving funding from Compassion during this time, this does not mean that your child is no longer attending the project. Some projects continue with all their same activities and others have to limit their activities due to not receiving financial help from Compassion and only being funded solely by the church until the issues are resolved. I do understand that you are concerned about your money not benefiting your child which is why we have informed you about this situation. In these situations, we work to provide more training and counseling of the staff.  We do our best to work with the staff to resolve the issue but if this does not resolve the issue, there are also circumstances in which a new pastor is found to oversee the church partner and ensure the stewardship of the project.  If necessary, we will shut down the project if they do not prove to be able to hold the standards that are set for them. Our goal is to resolve these issues as quickly as possible so that we can get back to our primary focus and minister to your child.  I assure you that Compassion will not resume sending funds to this project until we are certain that the funds are going where they are intended and will keep you updated in regards to the resolution. 

You are welcome to send us an email with your phone number at socialmedia@us.ci.org and we would be happy to call you directly if you would like to speak with us personally.
(Edited)