Planning ahead for continuity

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My intent in starting a relationship with each child is to carry it on until program completion. This gets a little stickier with correspondent children because the relationship is affected by the sponsors' ongoing ability and willingness to continue supporting the children over the course of years. I am grateful for the invitation to take on financial sponsorship rather than automatically dropping the relationship when this happens, while also knowing this might not be feasible if such requests come at a faster rate than our current sponsored children complete the program. So I am wondering... how often might I reasonably expect this question to come up?

The answer, of course, is something like "it varies" and "it depends," and that makes sense. So I'm not looking for anything like a promise, just info useful for prediction. Maybe something like this...
What percentage of correspondent children lose their financial sponsor during a given year? Also, is there any correlation between child's age and loss of financial sponsorship?

Also, what is the typical age of a sponsored child when he/she completes the program?
And what does it mean to "complete" the program?
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Debi

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Posted 4 years ago

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Debbie Skacel Tovar

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I have been in the correspondence program for five years, with an average of 15 correspondence kids, some times more, some times less, and have only had it happen twice.  Once I picked up the sponsorship, and the other time, I mentioned the girl needed a sponsor, and someone saw it, and picked her up, which was wonderful, because they were just about to go to that country for a visit.  Just heard recently that the lady is still sponsoring her.  For all but a few countries, the age is 22  now.
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Debi

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Debbie. I'm pretty new at this still and don't have a sense yet of patterns. I joined the correspondence crew in January, now have 8 correspondence kids in addition to our sponsored ones, and just received a request to take on one of these new correspondents as her financial sponsor, too. If this were representative of what to expect, then the decisions would be a lot more difficult to manage, but your experience with 15 kids at a time over the course of five years is likely much more reliable than my short time in the program, and brings some relief to my concern.
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Debbie Skacel Tovar

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The thing is, you have to really ask yourself if you want a long term sponsorship with that particular child.  I have one right now that is fairly new, but I know I would have to say yes if she lost her sponsor.  There are others, that either I haven't heard from, or maybe received one letter from, and I don't feel I would need to sponsor them if they lost their sponsor.  All I would do is let them go, and pray that they get a wonderful sponsor.
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Lindsay

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Not to be a stick in the mud, but as cliché as it sounds to go with the answer of "it just depends"...it just depends. I've been taking correspondents for less than a year and have lost 5 so far. My first 2 I picked up, namely because I felt like I "had" to. The third had a sponsor who decided to write, and the last 2 I had to let go as I am unable to take on more financial sponsorships at this time unless they fall into a very special category.
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Debi

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Agreed, Lindsay -- it really can vary quite a lot, as your experience shows! Out of curiosity, around how many correspondent students have you had so far?
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Lindsay

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Currently I have a LOT- I think 50 or more. Unfortunately I don't know exactly how many I had when I lost mine so it's hard to pull any kind of stat from it. At the time I lost the first 3, I did not have a huge number of correspondents. I probably had about 20-30 when I lost the last 2.
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Debi

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Wow, Lindsay. Sounds like you've lost 10% of your correspondent kids in less than a year! Thanks for sharing your experience in this. It is helpful.
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Lindsay

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Only if I had stayed at the same number of correspondents. By the time I had lost the last 2, I had a lot more. I just lost another one this morning, too. This boy also because his sponsor decided to write to him. I hear that's more of a rarity as far as reasons to lose them, but I'm glad the financial sponsor is stepping up their game. I just hope they're able to continue.
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Kathy F. Boe

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It would be interesting to know those statistics.  I started with the correspondent program about 14 months ago.  I lost two correspondents right after the first of the year, and I was not financially able to take them on at that time.  I have 16 correspondents now, but I think I had 9 at that time.  I know some folks only take on correspondents if they think they would be able to cover them when the financial sponsor later discontinued their sponsorship.  I just enjoy writing and am willing to fill in the gap while the financial sponsor isn't able to do so for whatever reason.  I wish the best for the kids I lost, but for all I know they may have found more exciting letter writers than me with their new financial sponsors.  I just wish we could continue writing to our correspondents until they actually had a new financial sponsor.  There could be quite a wait for some of the older kids, plus the new financial sponsor may know right off the bat they weren't into the letter-writing part.  If that were the case, there would be better continuity in having the same correspondent keep writing.
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Debi

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I struggle some to write letters without having something to respond to, so sending regular letters during the initial months of correspondence is a challenge. I read posts from y'all who are cheerful writers with a gift of words, and I wish I had that. It seems really useful for correspondence!
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Kathy F. Boe

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I've struggled with this too.  For most of my correspondents it has taken 4-6 months to hear anything at all.  And I've found that many of those first letters can be quite brief, so there isn't always a lot to respond to even once they do arrive.  At the beginning I think I tried to write too much in every letter.  Now I've started sending shorter letters, maybe just with one or two topics per letter.  A lot of times I send a picture of someplace we’ve been and talk about that.  Notecards are nice, because there is not a lot of space to fill up, and they have pictures or designs on them.  Sometimes I just send a postcard with a quote or a little message, just to let them know I've been thinking of them.  The shorter communications are probably quicker to translate, and most of these kids seldom got a letter anyway, so I'm hoping they'll be glad to have a nice picture and whatever words I can muster for now.  It's something tangible that they are in my thoughts.  I think that is not a bad way to start, until things have time to develop more with the back and forth of letter writing.
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Kathy and Debi, I just want to bring a word of encouragement to you both! You are such wonderful letter writers! Really all that is needed with the letters is a short message to regularly let them know that they are thought of and loved. If you have a gifting and a desire to be super creative with your letters, you are welcome to. But Kathy, I think you are right on. These letters, however short, show your children that they are in your thoughts. That has incredible power in the lives of children who hear the lies of poverty that tell them that they are unworthy, unimportant, and unloved. Just a simple letter has the power to lift that child's spirits and slowly help them believe that they are worthwhile, important, loved, and that they have what it takes to be released from poverty. 
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Teresa Dawn

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I have about 30+ correspondents, and the time I've had them ranges from 6 months - 4 years, however most I've had for the longer part of that (2.5-3.5 years) 
So far I have never lost any. 
The only child I've ever lost was a financially sposnored child whose parents pulled her out of the program.

(Two of my correspondents are set to graduate in a couple months though)
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Debi

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Yay for graduation! That is an exciting time and a significant accomplishment. I think I've seen somewhere that sponsors can send a final letter; is this correct? And is that true in the correspondent relationship?
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Teresa Dawn

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Yes, it is true!  You can wait until the child is removed from your account to write the final letter (in case the date changes last moment) You just have to be sure to write FINAL LETTER across the top so that it still goes through, and you can't write online after they are removed. :)  (If the child has moved out of the area they might not get it to them, but usually they are able to )
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Debbie Skacel Tovar

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You can always write a final letter no matter if they are sponsored, correspondence, or why they leave, or even if they lose their sponsor and you don't pick them up.  I think it's important to always write one so the child knows you didn't just disappear.

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