Is the center responsible for telling you how much each gift cost and how much was received in their local currency?

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If you send gifts to your child.... is the center responsible for telling you how much each gift cost and how much was received in their local currency?

I have sent 3 gifts last year ( 2 birthday gifts and 1 family gift), each over 60 dollars.  I have received photos and thank you letters with items purchased but never with the amount received and the items priced accordingly.

Is this a requirement of the center?  How does Compassion audit this and prevent fraud?  
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Patty

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Posted 1 year ago

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Jenny Kim

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I sent gifts over $60 to my kids, but it was only once that time from Ethiopian child that I got some item prices listed and never from other children. I wish I get the breakdown of what was purchased every time.
(Edited)
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Patty

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We sent a 300 US family gift to our sponsor child , Julien in Burkina Faso end of November , 2016. We just received the thank you letter last week with a wonderful photo dated March , 2017-  his family was Blessed with a bicycle, a goat for breeding, a mobile phone, rice, corn, spaghetti, clothes, shoes, soap, cookies, candies, and milk.
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Patty

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For Julien in Burkina Faso, we sent him 100 dollars for his birthday and he bought a small mattress, milk, cooking oil, cartons of soap, clothes for his family and himself, the ball he is holding, shoes, cookies, candies, rice, cartons of spaghetti .  What's great is the photo of his mom in the background and his baby sister.  But ya.... still no acknowledgement of exactly how much was received and how much each item cost. 
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grace montiel

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Hello. as far as I know, it's not a requirement to indicate the amount the child received in their currency. Letter guidelines are given to them and they were only asked to write what are the things they bought out of the money they received. 

There's indeed a proper audit for this. Child is being accompanied by project volunteer and receipt is required to support this also to make sure that the items bought are indeed for the child you are supporting or for his family. 
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Patty,

I am happy to give you some background on how gifts are handled. As soon as a child or family gift is posted to a supporter's account, a gift record is begun in our system which enables us to monitor the delivery, appropriate use, and receipt of the gift. This record includes receipts for the gift purchases and signatures from the family saying they received the gift. We also take note of whether a thank you letter and photo are sent to the supporter. Regular internal and external audits look at these records. If any of our requirements along the line do not happen, our field staff are held accountable. The staff at our centers and country offices are instructed that all gifts must be developmentally appropriate for the child. In other words, they must go above and beyond and not only avoid purchasing alcohol or drugs with the money, but purchase something that is in the best interest of the child and their future. The child or student center has to acknowledge having received a gift via letter within six months of when the gift is given. If the gift is $60 or more, a photo must also be included. They are not required to report in the letter the exact amount received and a list of what they purchased, but many of our centers do this anyway. If you are concerned that your child did not receive the full amount, you are always welcome to contact us. Please do note that ten percent of the gift is deducted for administrative fees, but the remaining amount is given directly to the child and family. 

You may also be interested to know that we have provided a list of approximate costs of commonly purchased items by country. These lists can be viewed here.  
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Sheila

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I am quite confused at the moment. I sent 2 Family gifts of $1,000.00 each and 2 Christmas gifts of $25.00 each. The totals were $2,000.00 and $50.00. I used the same credit card for both transactions. However, only the $50.00 gift shows up on my giving. I sent these gifts in October so the 2 children and their families would get it before Christmas. I called and talked to a rep. who said it was because of the credit card I used being in a different name....??? I used the same card for both transactions. The $50.00 shows up but not the $2,000.00. I am very concerned and frustrated at this. How could this happen when I used my login and my children when I gave this money in good faith?
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Sheila, I sincerely apologize for the confusion. All four gifts (two family gifts of $1000 each and two Christmas gifts of $25 each) were processed on the same card on October 24 and were sent to the country office. Please note that there were two separate transactions - one for the two family gifts totaling $2000 and one for the two Christmas gifts totaling $50. Around the same time, however, we also merged two accounts that were created in error (both were under your name). Please be sure that you are logged into the correct account (02130658) when you are looking at your donation  history online. The donation history should have been merged along with everything else but it is possible that if you log into the inactive account that your donations will not all be visible. Let us know if you need any further assistance logging into the correct account. 
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Patty

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Thanks Susan for your reply-- really appreciate the transparency!  Takes away a lot of frustration and I do not want to have the wrong assumptions .

Also........ when the gift does arrive to our child's center and recorded , am I correct to assume ... that it is up to the staff at the Compassion Center to notify the sponsor child and family immediately of the gift or is that up to their discretion as they have a 6 month time frame to hand in photo and thank-you letter?

Reason I ask.... in my experience, with the 3 gifts we have sent last year, each well over 60 dollars ( 2 birthday gifts at 100 dollars and 1 family gift at 300 dollars, ...... .... We write to our sponsor children and notify them of the gift sent  and tell them we are eagerly waiting to hear from them about what they purchased.

In each of these 3 instances, there is then.... Radio silence. Nothing. I receive letters from them but nothing about the gifts for 6 months.  

At this point, I call up Compassion International and customer service sends them an inquiry.  Then usually in about 6-8 weeks, I  receive a  thank-you letter for items purchased  and photo.  So I feel like the money has been sitting there for the entire time..... and it is not dispersed until someone has to gently remind them from Headquarters by sending an inquiry and then  " Quick... someone take this child and his family out shopping .... their sponsor is asking..... take a photo.... write a thank-you! We're past the 6 month mark and we want to be in compliance with the rules."
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Patty

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Hi Susan,

Thank you again for sharing your experience and the explaining the different scenarios-- yes... it does help me to see the complexity of the actual steps.  

I think this answer will also help many other sponsors like myself that are feeling frustration and disappointment----

From the sponsor's side,.. we are praying for these sponsor kids and stewarding our funds to provide for them in extra ways than our regular monthly payments and the eagerness to learn just what happened is laden with a touch of anxiety. :-)

Especially with birthday gifts..... because Compassion International suggests sending money 3 months in advance to make sure the child receives it in time.... but now with your description of how this happens... I would recommend Compassion to just forget the idea of a Birthday gift .  We can still write them Birthday wishes and cards but if the money is not necessarily going to be dispersed before due to possible  circumstances described above , we should just send a family gift or general gifts that would cover birthday gifts.

I think this would also alleviate anxiety in the children we sponsor.  I am sure many of them like mine thought, " What is my sponsor talking about in the letters they keep sending?-- My sponsor keeps mentioning a gift for my birthday and I have received nothing. "  

I do appreciate the work Compassion International is doing for the Eternal Kingdom but  I think if you make this clear to everyone who does send gifts that there will be little disappointment and frustration since it is a minority of sponsors who do this anyways, it would not be difficult to send an email or include it in your brochures under FAQ and Gift giving.  
 
Personally, I would have appreciated a brochure or anything written that reported to me the steps like you described above-- I would feel as a sponsor, I had full disclosure .

Thank you again and God Bless you for the work you do for His Eternal Kingdom.  
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Patty,

I can understand that when you and other sponsors are incredibly generous in giving above and beyond the monthly support to bless your sponsored child and their family you are anxious to hear how this gift has positively impacted them. And you are entitled to know that your gift was received and to be thanked for such a generous blessing. We try to be as efficient as humanly possible with the delivery of these gifts and the thank you letters in response, but regrettably it does take time. 

We recommend sending gifts three months in advance because that is the greatest amount of time it could take for gifts to be delivered. Even if in some cases the gift arrives after the actual birthdate it is always a blessing. Most of the children in our programs are sadly not used to celebrating their birthdays and gifts are always a joyous surprise. It is certainly not something they are expecting and so when they do receive a gift, they are incredibly grateful. 

I appreciate your feedback about including more information about how gifts are handled here at Compassion in the welcome packets and other FAQ sections. We do include information on how to send gifts and generally what to expect when sending gifts, and we will consider including even more information in the future. Just to make sure I can advocate for what you are wanting are you talking about the steps that a gift takes from the time that it posts to the time that the sponsor receives the thank you letter? Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback with us. 
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Patty

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Yes and Thank You sooo much Susan! That's exactly what I would like recommended:-)))) Along with the different scenarios of why it could take 6 months --- tracking down the family, making an appointment together with staff and family , being overwhelmed by the amount of the gift,, etc. 

Just give us up front disclosure--- that way, you don't have us sponsors thinking the field staff is just making  their own judgment  call on when to notify the sponsored child and their family.

Now, in another post..... a sponsor replied that getting to the inquiry at the 6 month mark was unusual as she usually received photo and letter by the 5 month mark and this was her experience over years and several sponsor children.  Can you 2nd this to be the case according to your experience?

Blessings!
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KristenH, Champion

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Yes, that was me that she's referring to Susan! I've found that I rarely have to wait and do an inquiry at six months because usually the system works and I get it before that time period :)
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Tammy

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Hi Patty,

This post interested me as I have sent several inquiries since becoming a sponsor in mid 2015. Looking back over my records I have sent 28 financial gifts to our sponsored and correspondent children. Two are recent, so I won't count those. Out of the other 26 gifts:

6 I had to send inquiries for
2 will be ready for an inquiry two weeks from now
5 I never heard what was bought and never followed up because the gifts were less than $40
13 we heard what was purchased without sending an inquiry

So in our experience, in our short time sponsoring we have heard from the children without intervention 50% of the time. Not sure if this is the norm or not? I have found that when I send an inquiry it gets worked out pretty quickly, though it does make me feel like I am burdening the staff in the child's country a little bit. I also think the major changes Compassion has gone through recently may have thrown a wrench in some of the processes temporarily, so I am hopeful that in the near future we will be sending fewer inquiries.

By the way, I love those photos you posted! What sweet children!

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