Does child sponsorship work?

    Sponsored children on their way to school in Nepal. There isn't enough evidence on whether child sponsorshop works, says Terence Wood. Photo by: Save the Children / CC BY-NC-ND

    There isn’t enough evidence on whether child sponsorship is an effective form of aid, a postgraduate student and former aid worker says.

    Terence Wood, who studies at the Australian National University and worked previously for New Zealand’s aid program, notes there are only two existing impact evaluation studies on child sponsorship — a fact he describes as “appalling” considering “all those years of people sponsoring kids.”

    What does existing evidence say about child sponsorship? Wood says that “on the basis of the best available evidence, child sponsorships come out looking quite good.” He cites a recent study on child sponsorship: a working paper about Compassion International’s programs in six developing countries. The study says it found that child sponsorship is a “great equalizer” that “results in 2.4 additional years of formal education,” among other benefits.

    But the study, Wood says, has its limitations and fails to address “perhaps the most important question” about child sponsorship: Is it more effective than other types of aid approaches offered by nongovernmental organizations?

    Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.