No letters?

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Do letters take longer for correspondent children? I received my first 3 correspondent children in September - 2 in India and 1 in Ghana - and I haven't received introduction letters from any of them. It's my understanding that introduction letters are written upon enrolment and sent as soon as sponsorship is confirmed, so over 3 months is a really long time. At this rate it will be impossible to establish any sort of relationship.
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Philippa Dennis

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Posted 5 years ago

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KristenH, Champion

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First letters from sponsored children can take four months to reach you. Correspondent children don't send a "first letter" so it can take longer for that first one from them to get to you. If you don't receive a first letter after six months, Compassion will look into it for you. I would encourage you to keep writing so that once that first letter comes they'll keep rolling in on a more consistent basis. I've been both a financial and correspondent sponsor since 2011 and I can tell you that in the beginning sponsorship is a great test of patience. It's totally worth it though and I have formed excellent relationships with many of my kids.
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Haley, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Operations

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Hi Philippa, since you live in Australia and your letters are being handled through the US office, your correspondent letters will be a bit slower than your normal sponsorship letters which are handled through the Australia office. The international delivery to you will add a couple of weeks to that time. Thank you for writing to these children, though. Your letters will mean so much to each child! I have two letters on record for you that were logged in the country office last week. Usually, we see the time frame being about thirty days until delivery from the date the country office logs the letter. For you, it would be closer to 45 days until delivery.
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Philippa Dennis

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Thanks Haley, that makes sense. I am looking forward to reading my first 2 letters! Can you also help me with something else please? I sent am email awhile ago requesting 3 more correspondent children - a teenage girl from Indonesia, a younger child from Bali Indonesia and a little boy from India. I haven't received a response yet although that is probably due to the Christmas period etc. Could you please check that I am on waiting list for these children and also add two more children both from Honduras to the list. Also, can I please get some information as to what family/child gifts my 2 Kenyan correspondent children have received in the past as well as any previous photos? Thank you so much for your time.
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Susan

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Hi Philippa! I sincerely apologize as it appears that we did not receive your email. However, I have added you to the waiting list for more correspondent children as you requested. I have you down for five children total. I am sending you an email about your two new Kenyan correspondent children.
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Bridgette Jordan

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Do you mind if I ask what it means that your correspondent children don't write a first letter? I have convinced my Mom and am trying to convince more people to sponsor but I think the letters are a large incentive for them to do it. I hope that three months isn't too much of a test of patience. Is there a reason no one had adapted the letters to a speedier delivery? I know the language barrier requires translations but three months or longer seems shockingly slow.
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Susan

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Hi Bridgette! Great questions! :) I apologize as my response is going to be long in an attempt to be thorough because there is a lot that goes into each of your questions. 

First, just to make sure everyone is on the same page let me clarify some of the things that we have been talking about here. A correspondent child is a child who is financially sponsored by someone who is unable to write letters to that child. We assign a volunteer to write to the child with no financial commitment. We call the volunteer a correspondent sponsor. Our correspondent program is this free program offered to volunteers. We developed this program because we strongly believe in the power of letters from a loving adult to a child in poverty and we wanted to see more children receive these meaningful letters. I see that you just got two correspondent children so I am assuming that you understand these terms but just wanted to be clear for anyone who may be listening in. 

We are unable to guarantee an introduction letter for correspondent children because of a system problem at our country offices where the letters are processed and translated. Part of what this system does is to send a notice to a child's center when the child needs to write a letter to their sponsor or correspondent. Regrettably, because correspondent sponsorships are so complicated in our system, we were unable to fix this problem for first letters from correspondent children. We are also currently in the process of a massive system overhaul that will completely fix all of these issues and will significantly shorten the time that it takes letters to be sent back and forth. The decision was made that, in order to be good stewards of the donations we have received, we would wait until the system overhaul to fix these issues. Also, let me clarify that we are talking about the introduction letters from correspondent children only. 

The first letters from financially sponsored children are delivered between a few weeks to four months after the sponsorship is started. Correspondent first letters will arrive within the first six months of when the child is assigned to the volunteer correspondent. 

For both correspondent and financial sponsorships, letters currently take two to three months be delivered. When your letters to your sponsored child reach our Colorado Springs office either by mail or through our online letter tool, your letters are processed, checked to be sure any attachments are within size limitations, and sorted by country. Letters are mailed once a week to each country office. After the letters go through customs, the country office receives and distributes them to translators. Once the letters have been translated, they are sorted by child development center and placed in each center’s bin. How far the child development center is located from the country office will determine how often staff are able to pick up the letters – anywhere from weekly to once a month. The next time each center meets they will distribute the letters to the children. Your child’s letter takes a similar process back to reach you. 

As I mentioned, we are aware that it currently takes a long time for letters to go back and forth. That is why we are currently updating our systems so that we can send letters much faster in the coming years. 

Also, in Philippa's case, she lives in Australia. We have an office in Australia (and I think she also financially sponsors through Compassion Australia) but she has opted to have correspondent children through the USA office as well. This means that the letters for the correspondent children that she writes to through Compassion USA are mailed to her from Compassion USA and will therefore take longer to get to her than US sponsors. 
(Edited)
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Bridgette Jordan

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Thank you so much for this detailed answer. I really appreciate it. I do have one other question. How do you determine what country gets what children. It sounds like you have certain kids designated to the USA and others designated elsewhere. A lot of Australians do have Compassion kids and I wonder if they use the same website or if there is a different process. I ask since I know someone in Australia that I'm trying to get to sponsor a child.
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Susan

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Bridgette,

Exactly! :) We have certain kids designated to the USA and other designated to our other partner countries (UK, Australia, Canada, etc.). We have a statistics-based system to help us decide which children and how many children are assigned to which country. Because Compassion began marketing within the US, we have the largest office and typically receive the most children. However, our other offices are growing and doing quite well as well. Each of our partner countries have their own marketing arm and websites. For Australia, your friend would want to go to https://www.compassion.com.au/sponsor-a-child. However, if your friend were to sponsor on the US website we could transfer the sponsorship to Australia as well. 
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Bridgette Jordan

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Thanks. I watched Compassion Australia videos. There seem to be more of them on the internet. I appreciate your help.

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