New Letter Guidelines

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  • Updated 3 years ago
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Hi All!

I have an exciting announcement to make! I know this has already been re-posted by other sponsors from the pre-announcement that was made on our Facebook group for correspondent sponsors. I wanted to post this in a prominent place on this site so that everyone is aware. This information will also be posted on Compassion's main website www.compassion.com

As you may know, in order to best serve the children in our program, we regularly conduct research to identify where improvements can be made. Recent research showed that the greatest frustration among sponsors and their sponsored children was the length of time it takes to receive letters. And, in a similar study of children, Compassion found that parents placed a preference on their children receiving letters over gifts. They said letters conveyed the love of the sponsor in ways that gifts could not. 

This was a wake-up call that we needed to speed up the letter-writing process in order to deepen the your relationship with your sponsored child. Our goal is for all sponsors and children to be able to send and receive letters quicker. 

Beginning April 11, 2016, all original letters between sponsors and children will be digitally scanned, translated and emailed. Children will receive high quality prints of your letters. You will receive letters by email and, if you choose, a scanned printout by postal mail. Letters will also be stored in your MyAccount. 

This increases the letter delivery process by up to 50 percent, allows Compassion to increase the number of sponsors without slowing down our letter delivery, and will cost less money to implement—saving ministry funds and using them more effectively.

In the new letter-writing process, Compassion will deliver extremely high quality scans of your letters directly to your child’s country office. New printers installed in each
field office print your letter, which will be forwarded to your child’s center for delivery. Compassion has implemented printing and paper standards in each of our offices, and monitors these processes for quality. 

In order to facilitate the digital letter delivery process, Compassion has made the following changes to our letter writing policy:

  • All of your correspondence should include a personal letter to your child. Enclosures received without a personal letter cannot be sent along to your sponsored child.
  • Your letter and any enclosures should be completely flat and made of paper. 
  • Letters and small paper gift items should be no larger than 8.5” x 11."
  • Total number of items (including stationery) should not exceed six sheets of paper, including your letter to your child. 
  • If we are unable to send an item or if the items are in excess of six sheets, we will make every effort to notify you via email. These ineligible items will be donated or discarded at the discretion of Compassion's child correspondence staff. 


Compassion provides translation for the letter you send to your sponsored child up to the maximum of six sheets per letter. The “six sheets” rule is replacing the 1/4” thick rule that has been our standard in the past. Please note, only the following items will be physically delivered to your child, up to a maximum of six sheets. 

  • Stickers (flat, not puffy or foam)
  • Bookmarks
  • Musical greeting cards
Some flat paper items enclosed with your letter will be scanned and sent electronically with your letter. The following scan-friendly items will be scanned first, digitally sent to your child’s country office for printing, and then delivered to your child:

  • Letters
  • Photos
  • Postcards
  • Greeting cards
  • Coloring pages
  • Paper crafts
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We believe that the majority of our supporters will be very pleased with these changes but it is still a transition. We are here to walk through these changes with you.
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Susan

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Posted 4 years ago

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Rachel Hoffman

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I'm curious about the log jam of letters and goodies that I've heard Compassion received in the last month or so. How is the mail room handling it all now? When will we know if our items sent recently are being sent to our kids, donated elsewhere or disposed of?
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Teresa Dawn

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Haha, come on... it sounds like a very intriguing book LOL!  You kid will go crazy waiting month to month wondering what happens next :p 

Lol, well actually, with my correspondent/sponsor kids combined I have between 1-7 kids in every Compassion country except Sri Lanka (I'm on the waiting list for a correspondent from there though, so hopefully soon haha).  My financially sponsored kids are from East Indonesia, Peru and Bolivia though.

What about you? Where is yours from?
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Barbara Malone Gruebel

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We just have one 9 year old boy from Haiti. Wonderful that you can help so many.
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Teresa Dawn

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Oh I love Haitian kids.  I have two there, twin girls who are 10.  Most of mine are correspondents, so I don't pay the support fees, companies and people that can't/don't want to write pay for them but can't write, so Compassion assigns those kids correspondent sponsors.

Are you in the Compassion fb group? If not, you should join if you're own fb.  (Staff can add you on Monday or Tuesday).  Lots of fun to come up with new ideas to send our kids and share their photos etc :)
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Barbara Malone Gruebel

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Teresa I haven't been that comfortable maneuvering around Compassion's site because I'm a dufus. Lol. I sign in through fb so I'll double check and see if I'm in the right spot. Very good of you to be a correspondent. I didn't realize that people just are correspondents. I told you I was a dufus!
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Susan

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Barbara, I just want to say that I know that you are not a dufus! You seem like a very compassionate, sweet, and intelligent person and you are a daughter of the King. :) 
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Mariah

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Hello! 

So one of my children's birthdays is coming up in July. Under the old guidelines, it was recommended that we make sure and send the birthday cards, letters, and gifts 3 months early. I was wondering how early we should count on with the new guidelines. I'm assuming things like stickers, musical cards, and bookmarks should still be sent 3 months in advance. However, non-musical cards, letters, coloring pages, and drawings will be sent by the scanning method, so how early should I send those out? 

Thanks :) 
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Susan

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Hi Mariah! Yes, please send all stickers, musical cards, and bookmarks three months in advance. However, please send anything that is scan friendly at least one month in advance. 
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Mariah

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Awesome, thank you :) I'll make sure and do that! 
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Angela Carlisle Haltom

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My sponsor child's birthday is 3 months away. After reading through the new letter guidelines, I am not sure now that what I had planned will work. I was sending paper dolls (cardstock) with clothing that is already cut out. Will these items be scanned or treated like stickers/bookmarks? Also, would each paper doll or piece of paper clothing be counted as a sheet?

Thank you.
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Angela Carlisle Haltom

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One other thing, would laminating the items change how they are processed?
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Teresa Dawn

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We can no longer send laminated items except bookmarks because the bookmarks are going through seperately, but laminated stuff can't go through the scanners, so they would just be donated elsewhere or thrown out and not make it to our kids if it's not a bookmark. 
For paper dolls, the best way to send would be to send the clothing NOT cut out, so that you can fit more outfits on one sheet (Yes each thing counts as a sheet) and also because stuff that is too small would be hard to scan so might not go through otherwise.   THe kids have access to scissors at the project so they could cut it out there.  I don't think they'll get it on cardstock, it'll be scanned onto other paper and then they can cut it out themselves.  Hope that helps.  
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Debi

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It's great that the communication flow will be faster with the changes. Can you clarify roughly what length of time we should anticipate? For example, if I use the online letter-writing tool to write a birthday note to a child with a July 31 birthday, how long in advance should I send the note so it will arrive around the time of his birthday?
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Teresa Dawn

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The letters will show up as soon as they are scanned in the child's country office on our account!  So while we won't get a heads up, we'll know as soon as Compassion staff does basically!  They said we could get letters showing up any time of day and they'll be there overnight sometimes, as it depends on the timezone of our child's country when they write them!
The inquiry time right now will remain at 6 months though as the children will still be writing only every 2 months.  (I wish that would increase, both the time and the inquiry time).  It won't increase how OFTEN we hear from kids but will really speed up the conversation... if I write something in January  for example, I'll probably have my child replying to it their next letter in March or so, rather than 3 letters later in June... and then they'll get my reply to that in April instead of September or whenever... (Seems to be about the average rate I was getting before haha)
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Chantel

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Does this mean that if we write online, the letter goes directly to the country office? That would be great and I can really see how conversations would speed up and relationships be improved.
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Teresa Dawn

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I'm not sure about that direction but even if it goes to the USA first (I think it will) THey would just email it to the country office so there still wouldn't be international shipping time.
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Emily

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Teresa, you're wonderful! Thank you so much for helping to answer these ladies' questions for us while we were out over the weekend. 

Chantel, I'm happy to answer your question. When you write and send a letter through your My Account online, it will upload into our new system so that both our USA office and the country office will both be able to view at the same time :).
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Chantel

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That is WONDERFUL!!
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Beth

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Susan, You said that parents preferred their children to receive letters over gifts. Are you referring to the extra monetary gifts, or little paper gifts sent along with the letters like stickers and coloring pages?
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Teresa Dawn

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Someone asked this in the fb group at they said they just meant the paper gifts.  :) 
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Susan

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Hi Beth! Yes, we were referring to paper gifts included with the letters.
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Beth

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If we send educational coloring pages with writing on (either a paragraph at the bottom of the page or labels under some pictures on the page) along with a letter, will the words on the coloring pages be translated? Or does it depend on whether or not the person doing the translating decides to translate things besides the letter?

Are these types of items appreciated, or should a sponsor use their time in other ways?

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Susan

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Hi Hawkeye! Yes, I am so sorry for the misinformation. With the new system, letters will be pre-translated via software and then checked by a human translator. This is why only scanned items will be translated. Do you happen to know who you spoke with or have your sponsor number so that I could make sure the representative you spoke with receives the correct information?
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Beth

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From my take, 'digitally scanned, translated, and emailed' meant digitally scanned, then translated, so I can see where the confusion could happen innocently. The person who said or wrote the phrase could have meant digitally scanned and digitally translated, but the person hearing or reading the phrase just took it as digitally scanned and then translated once in the system.

Misunderstandings happen. I wouldn't make too much of an issue out of it.

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Beth

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But I do have a question: If pages are being digitally translated after they are scanned, where is the translated version of any text going to appear when a sponsors stuff is passed on to the child?
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Sarah, Official Rep

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Hey Beth! If the letter is hand written on Compassion stationary or done online, the translation will go in the box specifically designated for it. If it is not on the stationary, it will be on the page following the original letter :). All the pages will get to the kiddos still :).
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Beth

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Thanks so much!
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Paul Styrvoky

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This is SO AWESOME!  Eagerly anticipating my first "new" electronic  letters from the Philippines and Thailand!
(Edited)
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KristenH, Champion

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Ok Susan, first I want to say I am so excited because I logged on this morning and see new letters I can read! I know this is a new system and there will be issues to work out, but the backside of Yvonne's newest letter is not showing up. :( Hoping it's just a glitch but it looks like it just wasn't scanned.
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Teresa Dawn

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Kristen, that's happening with everyone :) Guguloth's letter is only one page so I can't see it at all, but it is just a glitch right now :)
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Susan

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Hi Kristen and Teresa! Yes, this is a known issue that we are working on correcting right now. Thanks for letting us know!
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Deb Blickenstaff

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I have two questions about the new system.  1. can we send duplicate letters to other children on our list from previous letters.  I did not see that option. 2. Will letters we wrote to children who are no longer on our account be added to this system. That used to be available under the all children selection of sent letters. 

I really like the new system!

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Jamie Riemersma

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I'd like to know this as well.  It doesn't look like we can right now, so I've just got a draft saved for one of my kids so I can copy it later.
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Jamie Riemersma

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I'd like to know this as well.  It doesn't look like we can right now, so I've just got a draft saved for one of my kids so I can copy it later.
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Emily

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This option should still be available :). Since it's not for some sponsors right now, I will pass this along to our web team. But it is working for others so I would suggest logging out and back in and clearing your cache to see if this works. 
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Jamie Riemersma

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Hi Emily,

The letters I originally wanted to duplicate were all written under the old system, and they do not have any option to duplicate them on them.  The ones I've written under the new system are all showing either 'In Translation' or 'Had a Problem' and are greyed out, and un-selectable at this time.  I did try logging out and back in, and clearing my cache, and neither of those things changed anything.
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Deb Blickenstaff

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Emily, Jamie said it correctly.  We are unable to pull up letters that are saved from the old system and duplicate them.  There is not a choice for duplicating a letter.  We can do a duplicate letter for  a letter that was just sent.  However, if we click off of the screen, we then are unable to pull that letter back up again to then send a duplicate.  I have read on the FB post of several who can send duplicates from new letters, but I have not read any post about individuals being able to send a duplicate of letters that were brought over from the old system. Thanks for you help with all of this!
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heather o

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Super excited to see Ronny, Yared, and Abigail's latest letters in the new system.  I do have a question though, Ronny's letter says page 1 of 4 and 2 of 4 on the bottom.  Am I missing some pages?  Just curious.  So thankful that I will have no more lost letters from my kiddos!  Thanks and God bless!
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Teresa Dawn

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Hi Heather!  I'm not staff, but they might not be answering as it's outside their office hours.
There IS a glitch where some people are missing some letter pages right now, and Compassion is working hard to fix this glitch in the next few days.  However, not everyone is missing pages and if you are seeing 2 of 4 pages you might not be.  Does the letter seem complete to read?
See, the thing is, that the letter scans are one sided.  So the back of each page is blank.  Therefore, a 4 page letter is usually 2 pages of writing and 2 blank pages that likely aren't uploaded.) 

Myself, I have a letter on my account that is missing a page, but it is fairly obvious because the second page doesn't load at all (screencap below) and the first page has the letter ending mid-sentence.
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Emily

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Heather, Teresa is exactly right. If your letter looks complete then you should be fine and the other two pages would be blank as they were the back side. However, if you're reading your letter and it seems that a sentence is incomplete and should go on to the next page but it's missing, then there might be an issue.

We're looking further into this but if this is the case for you, please send us a screenshot of what you're seeing in an email at socialmedia@compassion.com and we'll pass it on to our web team who is currently working on this issue for other supporters right now as well. 
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Beth

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When sending letters by post office:  With the new scanning system, can we still send letters to different children in the same envelope, or will it be better to send each child's letters in separate envelopes? My concern is when the scanning is done, how likely would it be that pages will accidently get scanned to the wrong account? When the original copies went to the centers, I figured the labels would get each page to the correct child. But I am concerned that there is a high likelihood for errors with the new system. Hate to spend all the extra postage, but even worse don't want personalized items to go to the wrong child.
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Emily

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Beth if you're writing your child ID's on each letter or using the stationary we send to you, I want to encourage you that your letters should be assigned to your account and go to the right children. 

Now, just as human errors happened with our old system and sometimes child letters would go to the wrong sponsor by mistake, electronic errors and glitches also do occur. But I want to encourage you that we've tested this system for efficiency and if there was a high chance that letters would not be logged correctly, we would definitely hold off on putting this new system into place. You're certainly welcome to write your letters online to your children if this puts you at ease and gives you more confidence in your letter reaching your child. But the scanner we're using is highly intelligent and is made to read and organize the information we put into it and then upload it into our system so that letters go to the right children and are assigned to the right accounts.
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Beth

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Didn't realize the scanner will read the labels.... Will it be a problem if the label with the child number is on the back of the page? Does the scanner read both sides at the same time? Thanks.
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Susan

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Beth, the scanner reads both sides of the document. We also have a human prepare the letters before placing it on the intelligent scanner. This means that if it does not have what we need, we will add something to it to make sure that the scanner can read it. 
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Betsy

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Not sure if this is where I should ask this.  I noticed for the first time on my account that I have a notification of 2 unread messages.  But when I click on this and go to the next page, there is nothing there to be able to read any letters.  It just tells me the dates and that the letter is complete.  Are we supposed to be able to read these online? 
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Sarah, Official Rep

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Hi Betsy! Who are the messages from? I noticed one from Jolly is still in translation, but wasn't able to find the other one. The issue that you mentioned is one that we are aware of and are working to fix for sponsors. When the letter has been uploaded to your account, you will be able to read it online. If you click on the green bar indicating you have an unread message, it actually shows you where in the process it is.
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Betsy

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Thanks Sarah.  Yes, it says we have 2 unread messages from Jolly.  When I click on the green bar, it says "complete".  So does that mean we'll know about unread messages before they actually are able to be read?  The one in translation is the one we sent to him I believe. 
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Sarah, Official Rep

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Betsy, the two letters that are mentioned are actually old ones that would have been processed before we switched to the new system. One from February and one from March, which you should have received in the mail by now. Are you able to see either of the letters through the "Communication History" tab? It's possible that you could see at least the second letter there. If we have a scan of it that is viewable for you, it will have a dark blue background and an envelope on the right side like this.



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Betsy

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Thanks.  I guess the "unread letters" title had me confused! 
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Tammy

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Good morning!  I have a question about stickers.  I just read (in the blog comments) that stickers will be sent physically if they are flat and made of paper.  Many stickers I have seen are now made of a thin clear material (plastic or vinyl??).  Will these go through even though they are not technically "paper"?

Thanks!
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Sarah, Official Rep

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Hi Tammy! Yes, those stickers will still go through just fine :). Happy sticker picking!
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Anna Birschbach

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Hi! I hope someone can help me. Do I still have to write letters on the compassion paper with a spot for translation if I have mine and my childs sponsor numbers on the paper I am using instead?
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Adam

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Hi Anna! You don't have to use the stationery that Compassion provides. You are welcome to use your own paper if you would like to. I try to leave a spot for the translation when I write or include another sheet of paper if there's not room on one sheet. Just make sure that your sponsor number and your child's name and number are on each sheet that you send, like you mentioned. :)
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Beth

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Hi Anna. Adam did a great job answering your question. I wrote a lot of letters on my own paper with the old system. Sometimes I wrote in the left column and left the right column blank for translation; other times I wrote on the top half of the paper and left the bottom blank. But I wonder with the new system if translation goes on the same page or if it is generated on its own separate page?

A fun thing about writing letters on your own paper is that you can decorate it with clip art or pictures as you desire. I also found some great computer stationary at the Dollar Tree. For the numbers, I printed whole sheets of return address labels with the sponsor & child #'s. Makes it so easy to label everything you send!

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Anna Birschbach

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Thanks Adam and Beth!
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Kathy F. Boe

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Is it still okay to use the Compassion stationery we received along with letters that had arrived prior to the new letter system?  They already have the sponsor and child ID #s, but I was wondering if the bar code on the older stationery is compatible with the new system.  I hate wasting it if it's still usable, because I do like to hand-write letters sometimes, but if it is incompatible with the new system, I don't want to make a hassle for the scanning staff if I use it. 
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Emily

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Hi Kathy! We will add the new QR code when you send the stationary in. You're welcome to still send in letters on the old stationary so that it's not going to waste :). 
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Timothy Oberg

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Hi Emily,
I just stumbled on the new mail rules on the website. It sounds like a great system to simplify us sending letters and photos. We know we need to do way better at that and I think this will help.

I'm trying to understand the missing clarity in the new rules. If we send a Birthday card with a letter, photos, and 2 bookmarks, all will be scanned and shredded accept the bookmarks will be physically sent on alone?

If that's the case, wouldn't it be more efficient for me to scan the card and photos and email from the website, and just send the bookmarks alone in an envelope? It's still not clear how (or if) items will still be physically sent to our child.

Will they just receive the 2 bookmarks without any notes beside sponsor/child number?  Will the scanned emails go directly and the bookmarks follow via snail mail months later? Thanks for helping me understand.

Blessings!
Tim
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Anna Birschbach

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Hi again! I have another question. I know musical greeting cards will go through. But am I able to send regular greeting cards through?
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Susan

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Hi Anna! You are welcome to send any musical greeting card or scan friendly greeting card. The musical cards will be sent physically in the mail and other greeting cards will be scanned. Thanks for asking! :) 
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Anna Birschbach

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Thank you!
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Donna

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I will be canceling my sponsorship today, as this process which was supposed to "speed things up by 50 percent" apparently has made the process worse.  I have been sponsoring a child since March, 2016, and only received the introductory letter from my child a few weeks ago.  It is now October, 2016.  Then yesterday, I received a phone call from Compassion saying that I received another letter from my child, which was scanned and sent to my email.  I went to read it, and it was from a child I have never sponsored, addressed to another person, not me.  I hope Compassion will get this right for the sake of other sponsors and children, but I am withdrawing, because this is very disappointing for  me.
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Sarah, Official Rep

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Donna, it looks like we already spoke to you this morning and placed Juliano back up for sponsorship with another sponsor. I am so sorry that the disappointment, anger, and frustration with the new letter system led you to end his sponsorship. This has been a very difficult time for our ministry and sponsors alike, as the new system has not worked the way we were hoping it would from the start. Though it is getting better, it has taken many months to fix the issues with the system. Not all of them are fixed yet, but we are continuing to see progress. Thank you so much for patiently hanging in there with us as long as you were able to. I sincerely apologize that you received a letter from a child who was not your own on top of the frustrations you were already experiencing. Our staff missed the mistake on that inquiry when the letter came back to us from the country office in East Indonesia. That letter was from a Juliano, but it wasn't your child. I think our staff didn't catch that the letter was from the wrong Juliano when they sent it to us. Though you've decided to end your sponsorship Donna, we are so grateful for the time you spent pouring love into Juliano's life over the past seven months.
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Donna

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Anna and LL:  Much beyond it being a disappointment to me, I naturally have to question the support my child is supposed to be receiving, which has been my primary concern.  If Compassion is not getting this right, what else are they not getting right?  This is not just about me, and I have to look at this as a reflection of the organization itself. The Lord has called me to be a good steward of what He has given me to donate, and I have waited patiently for 9 months, with very little feedback, and no results.  There are other organizations with children that I can sponsor and receive much better communication.
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Adam

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If I may, I would just like to add a comment regarding Compassion that I know to be true from my own experience as a sponsor over the last two years. When I first became a sponsor, I was a recovering alcoholic and I was basically a total mess and didn't even realize it. Being a Compassion sponsor has changed my life, not just from the experience of sponsoring a child, but mostly because of the example and kindness that I've seen in the Compassion staff. Compassion prays for their sponsors and, in the past, they've added me to that list and prayed for me and one of the staff even encouraged me to start attending Celebrate Recovery at a local church, which I never would have done on my own. Every single employee that I've ever talked to at Compassion has been very kind and Christlike, and I've talked to a lot of them. I've been very rude and hard to deal with at times, and they didn't "hold me accountable," they've always just been patient and kind to me. I know that Compassion is working as hard as they possibly can to fix this new letter system because I know that Compassion is full of authentic and Godly men and women who truly want to see children released from poverty in Jesus' name.
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heather o

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GRACE! No one nor organization is perfect; if we were we would not need a Savior. We all make mistakes and things don't go according to plan, so why should we believe that Compassion shouldn't have issues from time to time? There were more bugs than anticipated in the new letter system so letters have slowed down. Let's put this in perspective, look at how big Compassion is and how many centers, children, and sponsors they serve. Can anyone honestly say that changing the letter system (changes designed to benefit both children and sponsors) was expected to be flawless? If you did that expectation was unrealistic. Every new process, no matter how thoroughly tested, has bugs that need to be worked out. That process is only magnified when you add in the fact that multiple countries and languages are involved. I have no doubt my kiddos are benefiting from sponsorship. I admit I have found myself getting frustrated from time to time but I have to remind myself that we do this for our kiddos because that is what God called us to do. We are also charged with extending grace to others and I certainly believe this is a time for grace and patience. I sure am glad God doesn't give up on us because we take longer to do things and we mess up sometimes! God bless!
(Edited)
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Beth

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First, blessings to you, Adam! So glad for the positive changes you have experienced, and that God was able to use Compassion to both bless you and allow you to bless the kids you sponsor.

Regarding the new letter system, recently I did receive a letter 2 days after the child wrote it, so there is hope! It seems like other centers in the same country are still not at that point. So for now, I will just trust that it WILL get better for all sponsors and all kids and centers.

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