SEATTLE, Washington — Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” By helping vulnerable communities, one not only helps others but also becomes a better person in the process. Whether it be the impact of one person or a whole organization, the power of philanthropy is contagious and it grows like rapidly spreading wildfire. That is how ChildFund, a small nonprofit, became a global organization that changes lives.
Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, the founder of ChildFund, strongly believed in the multiplying potential of charity work. Therefore, he focused his efforts and successfully gained support for his innovative idea of global child sponsorship. Anne Lynam Goddard, the current CEO of ChildFund International, recently spoke with The Borgen Project. Goddard said that “[Dr. Clarke] became one of the early pioneers of the child sponsorship model where individual donors pledged monthly support tied to individual children.” Because of Dr. Clarke’s dedication and the help of many, ChildFund is now a large nonprofit organization that helps developing communities all over the world.
This global organization that changes lives provides global aid through food, medicine, water, education and more to children and families in need. Goddard explained that ChildFund is a “child-focused community development organization” that works within the local community to improve the living standards of everyone impacted by global poverty. She explained that ChildFund “improve[s] the environment, through things like clean water, better schools, improved access to healthcare, training for parents and more.” This not only benefits the children but also helps to lift communities out of poverty.
It is commonly acknowledged that the key to improving the world is to focus efforts on future generations. Ensuring the well-being of growing children creates a domino effect. This in turn leaves a long-lasting and positive impact through the reduction of global poverty. As Goddard says, “within even one generation, so much progress is possible when we focus on children.”
Support From Sponsors
As with most nonprofits, ChildFund raises financial support in many different ways, but the largest source of fundraising comes from direct sponsors. Each year individuals send a small portion of their monthly paycheck to sponsor a child in one of the 24 countries where ChildFund is active. Children stay in touch with their sponsors through letters, drawings and pictures. The organization can even help organize a visit to the sponsored child’s local community.
Once a child is sponsored, he or she is taken off of the website assuring that there is one sponsor per child. This creates a personalized connection that establishes a genuine relationship. ChildFund maximizes monthly contributions by combining donations with other sources. Financial aid can come from fundraising events, such as ChildFund’s LIVE! Concerts, or from institutional donors like the European Union, the LEGO Foundation and the MasterCard Foundation. Fundraising efforts ensure that communities, not just individuals, are lifted out of poverty.
Involving the Local Community
When asked about how ChildFund is able to provide so many resources to developing countries, Goddard acknowledges that direct effort must come from the local community for change to be long-lasting. She says that the organization works with “community-based organizations that take on the work of the development themselves because locally-owned change is sustainable change.”
ChildFund works with regional services to provide needed support to vulnerable communities, which puts more money back into the local economy. In addition, the organization focuses on advocating with policymakers on both the local and global level to enforce legislation that reduces poverty levels and protects children’s interests.
All of this amazing work leads to real, long-lasting change that allows many poverty-stricken children to reach their goals. Goddard mentioned a story in which Ebrima Sonko, a former sponsored child, was able to rise out of poverty through the support of his sponsors. Ebrima was always smart, but his family couldn’t afford to send him to school. With support from ChildFund, Ebrima graduated with honors from the University of Gambia. He became a “human rights champion” and now has plans to get his Master’s degree to study law.
Former sponsored child Rajitha, now a college graduate, currently works for the same organization that supported her as a child. In doing so, she is able to impact the lives of many more. Rajitha says, “Because my sponsors chose me and because their support and encouragement were there for me, I felt the need to push myself further in my education.” These heartwarming stories prove that global poverty reduction is possible and necessary.
Anyone is capable of making an impact. Ending global poverty is not an easy task. In fact, it can definitely feel overwhelming; however, it is important to remember that even if only one person has an opportunity for a better life, that will create a ripple effect and change the lives of many. We have two hands, and both can be used to create a better global society for future generations. ChildFund is one global organization that changes lives.
– Karin Filipova