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May 7, 2022

How Much of that $39 a Month to the ChildFund Goes to the Child?

by Anne Paddock

Way back in 1938, the China Children’s Fund was established by a Presbyterian minister to provide assistance to children in China  after the war (Sino-Japanese War) by starting a child sponsorship program where sponsors (typically in the US) would pay a monthly fee to sponsor a child so that the child would have basic needs (food, health, etc) provided.

In 1951, the name was changed to the Children’s Christian Children’s Fund when the program expanded to other countries.  In 2002, the Christian Children’s Fund along with 11 other child sponsorship organizations founded a worldwide network – the ChildFund Alliance, a group of 12 organizations that partner with local organizations in other countries.  In 2009, the Christian Children’s Fund changed its name to ChildFund International.

ChildFund International USA (ChildFund) is one of those 12 organizations that partners with local organizations in 24 countries to provide children with basic needs. Advertisements to sponsor a child for $39 a month (or “about $1 a day) or $468 a year are used to raise funds for the organization.  If you’ve ever wondered how much of that $39 per month goes to a child, the answer is less than $23 (or less than 59%).

In 2020, ChildFund reported total revenue of $198 million (compared to $196 million in 2019) most of which came from contributions, gifts and grants.  Expenses totaled $179 million (not including $4 million in depreciation) categorized as follows;

  • $117 million (59% of revenue):  Grants (primarily overseas)
  • $ 31 million (16% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 17 million (8% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily fundraising)
  • $  7 million (3% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $  4 million (2% of revenue):  Other Expenses (i.e.payments to affiliates, etc)
  • $  2 million (1% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion
  • $  1 million (1% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences

As illustrated above, grants is the largest expense.  These are the funds provided to local organizations in other countries, who develop programs in local communities that include food, healthcare, and development programs.

The second largest expense is compensation for the 211 employees of ChildFund who received $31 million, or an average of $147,000 each in 2020.  However only 38 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation.

Fees for Services is primarily fundraising fees which includes professional fundraising fees.  Fundraisers were credited with bringing in $44 million in revenue but retained $8 million netting ChildFund $36 million. The most highly compensated fundraisers were reported to be:

  • Thriving Children Advocates, of Brentwood, TN raised $16.5 million, retained $3.2 million, netting ChildFund $13.3 million
  • APPCO Group, of New York, NY, raised $11.3 million, retained $900,000, netting ChildFund $10.4 million
  • IslandBox, of Richmond, VA, raised $5.4 million, retained $1.3 million, netting ChildFund $4.1 million
  • Infocision, of Akron, OH, raised $4.8 million, retained $32,000, netting ChildFund nearly $4.8 million
  • DialogueDirect, of New York, NY raised $2.8 million, retained $1.5 million, netting ChildFund $1.3 million
  • TNI The Network, Inc., of British Columbia, Canada raised $2.2 million, retained $300,000, netting ChildFund $1.9 million
  • BriteVox Sponsorship, of San Diego, CA raised $850,000, retained $850,000, netting ChildFund $0
  • Threshold Giving Sponsors, of Moorestown, NJ raised $230,000, retained $180,000, netting ChildFund $50,000
  • Face to Face Outreach, of Tustin, CA raised $125,000, retained $0, netting ChildFund $125,000

So, if you donated $39 per month to ChildFund in 2020, your donation was spent as follows:

 $39:  Revenue

-$23:  Grants (to partner organizations)

$ 16:  Revenue Remaining

-$  6:  Compensation

-$  3:  Fees for Services

-$  1:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  1:  Other Expenses

-$  1:  Advertising and Promotion, Travel and Conferences 

-$ 12:  Subtotal: Compensation, Fees for Services, Office, Other, Advertising, Travel

$  4:  Revenue Remaining (10%):  To General Fund

As illustrated above, $23 of the $39 monthly donation was given to partner organizations in other countries.  These organizations must cover their costs and then use the proceeds to help the children so less than $23 of goes directly to help the children.  $12 of the $39 was used to pay for administrative, general, and fundraising costs of ChildFund.  $4 out of $39 was not spent and allocated to the general fund (think savings account).

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020), click here.

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