Child sponsorship dollars; HOW MUCH GOES TO HIM?
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Responsible organizations are naturally sensitive to any scandal or unfavorable press reports that might hurt their vital fund-raising efforts.Skip to next paragraph
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Even before the Pallottine incident, the Subcommittee on Children and Youth of the US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare held hearings on child-welfare agencies. Chaired by Walter F. Mondale when he was a Minnesota senator, the subcommittee investigated the kind of services children receive through charity, how charities get funds from the public, and how much they spend on fund raising, management, and program services.
A field study by the General Accounting Office followed. Its report pinpointed numerous management shorcomings and inefficiencies of various child-sponsorship agencies, mainly in connection with distribution of funds to recipients.
Following the hearings and the GAO report, a group of child-sponsorship agencies, led by the Christian Children's Fund and Save the Children, met and drew up a "code of minimum fund-raising ethics for voluntary agencies in child service." The Christian Children's Fund prints this code in its annual report. The first of 12 points in the code states:
"We are truthful in our broadcast, print, and direct-mail advertising using actual, current case histories and photogrpahy with honest statements of purpose. . . ."
Agencies that are evangelical in their approach, such as World Vision and Compassion International, have formed their own "code of standards," which was drawn up in collaboration with the Billy Graham Association. The new watchdog organization set up to oversee this code is the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, in Pasadena, Calif.
Last year the Holy Land Christian Mission, which for decades has focused its welfare activities in the Mideast through direct-mail appeals, introduced a new child-care program in Latin America and the Philippines, using the sponsorship method of raising funds. Before doing so, it carefully surveyed the sponsorship agencies for models to follow.
Martin Hazlett, vice-president of operations, says his agency's experience is that "there are crooks in the direct- mail area, some of them almost blatant. But the people we run into in the sponsorship field seem to be a more concerned group. That doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. Some are almost ridiculous mistakes. But they seem to be more conscientious about their spending. I think it's because the donor that helps them sponsor the program is more intelligent, more selective, and is not as loose with his money."
Mr. Van de Workeen urges sponsors to make sure agencies issue annual reports that give a full accounting of how they handle funds. They should ask specific questions as to how their money is benefiting their particular child or community. Also, they should be sure that what they consider to be a satisfactory percentage of their contribution is actually spent on the program, as opposed to administration and fund- raising. If a sponsor does not get answers or suspects wrong- doing, he encourages the sponsor to contact NIB or CBBB, or even his district attorney or state attorney general.
The following list of voluntary child-sponsorship agencies that solicit public funds is by no means complete. These 10 are among the largest and best-known of the 26 or so such organizations in the US. All meet standards of CBBB or NIB or both. They illustrate the broad choices open to the door:m
* Foster PArents Plan Inc., Warwick, R.I. An international, nonsectarian, nonpolitical, voluntary child-sponsorship agency founded in 1938 by the late John Langdon-Davis, a cthe Spanish Civil War. He was moved to help children in that war-torn land and later young victims of World War II.