Compassion International

Compassion International is a Christian humanitarian aid child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world. Compassion International, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, functions in 25 countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, and Kenya. The organization provides aid to more than two million babies, children and youth. The board chair is Judy Golz, and Santiago Mellado is the President and CEO.[3]

Compassion International
MottoReleasing children from poverty in Jesus' name
FounderEverett Swanson
TypeChristian child sponsorship non-profit organization
  • 12290 Voyager Parkway
    Colorado Springs, CO 80921
    United States
Area served
25 Countries in Africa, Asia, The Caribbean, Central America, North America and South America
Key people
Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado (president and CEO)
US$890,571,000 (2018)[2]
ExpensesProgram Services:
US$703,543,000 (2018)[2]

Support Activities:
US$158,521,000 (2018)[2]

Total Expenses:
US$862,064,000 (2018)[2]


The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea. He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army, but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war. In 1953, he began to raise funds, and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month.[4] The name of the association changed to Compassion, Inc. in 1963, inspired by Jesus' words "I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry" (Matthew 15.32). Compassion, Inc. became Compassion International, Inc. in 1980.

Donating countries

Compassion International accepts contributions from a number of countries. Below are details on some of its coordinating organizations.


Compassion Australia was officially registered in 1978 as Compassion Limited of Australia. It was established by Laurie and Olive McCowan.


Compassion Canada was formed in 1963. Based in London, Ontario, it was founded by Bob and Janet Forsyth of Blenheim, Ontario, who wanted to expand Compassion's ministry from the United States to Canada.[5]


Service d'Entraide et de Liaison (SEL) of France became an affiliated partner country in 1990.


Compassion Deutschland became a partner country in 2007.


Compassion Italia became a partner country in 2001.


Compassion Netherlands became a partner country in 1996.

New Zealand

Tearfund New Zealand became a cooperating country partner beginning in 1986.

South Korea

Compassion Korea became a partner country in 2004.


Compassion Suisse was formed in 2003. Its original offices were located in Concise and were relocated to Yverdon-les-Bains in 2009.

United Kingdom

Child sponsorship is initially offered in Great Britain through an affiliation with TearFund beginning in 1975. Compassion UK opened in 1999.


Compassion helps those in impoverished areas using a holistic approach to child development. This approach goes well beyond simply providing food and medical aid and also involves education and training to prepare the individuals for contributing back to their community.[6]

Child Sponsorship

Children in the Child Sponsorship Program are provided food and clean water, medical care, education, life-skills training, and spiritual guidance through a direct sponsorship. Sponsored children are selected by the sponsors, and two-way communication is encouraged between the sponsored child and the sponsor. As of January 2019 the cost to sponsor a child through Compassion is US$38 per month. There are currently over two million children worldwide in this program.[7]

Sponsors are able to visit their sponsored children through trips planned by Compassion International. Compassion's goal is to provide a trip to each country every other year. Compassion coordinates every aspect of the trip including travel, meals, tips and gratuities, fees related to the travel, and sightseeing fares.[8]

Compassion operated in India for 48 years, with its $45 million in transfers a year, making it India's largest single foreign donor.[9] Compassion provided services under its Child Sponsor Program to 145,000 Indian children.[9] In 2015, Compassion affiliates' offices were raided by tax investigators seeking evidence whether it was funding religious conversions.[9] Compassion said it was then forced to direct funding to non-Christian Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh groups.[9] Compassion refused to do so as it would be a misuse of funds that donors all around the world trusted them with. After talks back and forth, in 2017, the Government of India barred Compassion from transferring funds into India, forcing the group to close its operations in that country.[9] The Ministry of External Affairs later clarified that the ban had nothing to do with the ideology of Compassion International.[10]

Countries of operation

Compassion provides child development aid to children and families in 25 countries.[11] Each country's office is staffed by local personnel.


Compassion International currently holds a rating of three stars (out of four) from Charity Navigator,[12] a grade of "A" from CharityWatch[13][14] and met the "20 Standards for Charity Accountability" from the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.[15]

Through 2015, Compassion International has received Charity Navigator's highest four star rating for 15 consecutive years, thereby receiving special recognition on their "10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings" list.[16]

An empirical study published in the Journal of Political Economy showed that the sponsorship of children through Compassion International resulted in significantly higher rates of children completing school and greatly improved adult employment outcomes.[17][18] The study, led by University of San Francisco professor Bruce Wydick and involving over 10,000 individuals in six countries, showed that the Compassion child sponsorship program increased the probability of primary school completion by 4.0–7.7%, secondary school completion by 11.6–16.5%, and university completion by 2.1–2.4%. It also increased the probability of salaried employment in adulthood by 5.1–6.3% and the probability of white-collar employment by 6.5–6.7%.[17]

See also


  1. "Compassion International". Charity Navigator. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  2. "Annual Report 2017–2018" (PDF). Compassion International.
  3. "Board of Directors". Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  4. "History of Compassion International". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  5. International Co-Operation for Habitat and Urban Development. Organization for Economic Co-ope. 1997. p. 128. ISBN 92-64-05537-1.
  6. "Stages of Child Development". Compassion International. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  7. "Two Million Now Registered in Ministry's Child Development Program". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  8. "Compassion Trips FAQ". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  9. Barry, Ellen; Raj, Suhasini (March 8, 2017). "Major Christian Charity Is Closing India Operations Amid a Crackdown". The New York Times. pp. A4. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  10. Zeera, Rosheena (March 9, 2017). "No 'Ideological' Reason Behind Compassion International Ban: MEA". The Quint. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  11. "Where We Work". Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  12. "Page at". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  13. Daniel Borochoff (February 20, 2008). "American Institute of Philanthropy at". Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  14. "Ratings and Metrics: Compassion International at". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  15. "". Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  16. "4 Stars for 15 Years in a Row". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  17. Wydick, Bruce; Glewwe, Paul; Rutledge, Laine (2013), "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes", Journal of Political Economy, 121 (2): 1–8, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1086/670138, JSTOR 10.1086/670138
  18. Bruce Wydick (June 14, 2013). "Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child". Christianity Today. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
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