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Sponsor a Child Today

April 5, 2021

Thinking of sponsoring a child? UNICEF has helped save more children than any other organization by giving every child the chance to thrive.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families all over the world, taking far too many lives, closing schools and straining social systems. For the most vulnerable children, it was a crisis on top of a crisis. Children are malnourished in Yemen and many countries throughout Africa — Nigeria, Central African Republic, South Sudan. In Syria, Iraq and Jordan, children have been driven by war into tent settlements, where without proper winter clothing, boots and blankets, they struggle to survive the cold.

For all of them, the clock is ticking.

Donate and Support

When children are suffering halfway around the world, it’s hard to know how to help. Do you donate to an organization like UNICEF, which seeks to solve the problems all children face, or do you look for a charity that allows you to sponsor one specific child?

Child Sponsorship Organizations

Some child sponsorship programs allow donors to make monthly funding commitments to support individual children, with whom they may correspond and even visit to see the impact of their support. For people who want to know they've made a contribution toward improving the life of one particular child, the idea of child sponsorship can be quite compelling. 

UNICEF launched the first-ever Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign in Yemen, where conflict, a deteriorating economic situation and little to no access to safe drinking water and sanitation sparked the world’s largest cholera outbreak. Thanks to a UNICEF immunization, this 6-year-old girl is safe. © UNICEF/UN0209184/Bafaqeh

However, although child sponsorship programs have been around since the 1930s, a 2017 national study of 1,000 American charity supporters by Grey Matter Research and Opinions 4 Good, found that only 24 percent of respondents truly understood what it means to sponsor a child.

“Most donors are aware of sponsorship and generally positive toward it, but there is not a lot of real familiarity with how it works,” says Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research. “The interest is there, but so are doubts or concerns.”

What does it mean to sponsor a child?

It depends on the organization.

Though many organizations offer information about specific children who need help and the opportunity to keep in touch with them, that doesn’t necessarily mean that supporters’ monthly donations actually go to the child’s family. Rather, many organizations have found that they can do much more good by pooling sponsor funds in order to attack the problems facing the communities where the children live with long-term, sustainable solutions.

Aia (above) is 7 years old. She loves to learn at UNICEF’s child-friendly Makani Center in the Za’atari refugee camp, in Jordan, where she and other children who fled war in Syria live. “I like to study here. They teach me math, English and Arabic," says her 8-year-old sister, Zana (far right), who believes that going to the Makani Center, which offers learning and social and emotional support, has helped bring up her grades. "I want to become a doctor so I can treat sick people. I love learning.” © UNICEF/UN0263706/Herwig

While many child sponsorship programs now taking this approach offer donors the chance to get to know individual children in the communities where the organizations work, the children supporters correspond with aren’t always the direct recipients of donors’ monthly checks. Rather, some organizations designate the children sponsors get to know as unofficial ambassadors for their communities.  

UNICEF child sponsorship

What’s the best way to sponsor a child? After working for over 70 years to save and protect children around the world, UNICEF has found that the most effective way to help one child in a community is through sustainable solutions designed to help them all.

With a presence in over 190 countries and territories, UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization by providing health care, immunizations, safe water, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more to communities at scale.

It’s that approach that has allowed UNICEF to address inequity at its root and deliver what all children need to survive and thrive.

Meet Gift. He lives in South Sudan, where 60% of the war-torn nation’s people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. He was hospitalized for severe acute malnutrition for 10 days. Thanks to UNICEF, he made a full recovery. © UNICEF/UN0232159/Njiokiktjien VII Photo

In 2020, UNICEF and partners made a lifesaving difference for millions of children

  • 4.9 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition

  • 41.3 million children were vaccinated against measles

  • 17 million children who were out of school received early learning, primary and secondary education

  • 39 million children and their families were provided safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

  • 51 million children received the benefits of cash transfer programs

  • 3.7 million children received community-based mental health care and psychosocial support

  • 4.37 children in 22 countries who live under the threat of landmines and other explosive weapons were reached with prevention and survivor assistance

How much does it cost to become a child sponsor with UNICEF USA?

UNICEF works from the top down, partnering with governments to help shape policies and programs while making connections in communities to put them into action. That access, combined with the ability to ship supplies anywhere in the world in just 48 to 72 hours, ensures UNICEF can leverage resources and deliver supplies quickly and efficiently to make donor support really count.

Sita and her sister, Tawaseef, just received winter gear from UNICEF, including the first pair of warm winter boots they've ever owned. The girls, whose family fled the war in Syria, now have the protection they'll need to make it through winter in the Jordan tent settlement they call home. “I like the boots the most!" says Tawaseef, who previously had only sandals to wear. “The scarf is soft," says Sita. "I love it!” © UNICEF/UN0274601/Herwig

That means donors can rest assured knowing that UNICEF will provide children with the best lifesaving supplies and programs money can buy. See how far UNICEF can make your support go:

  • $1.50 = Zinc treatment for 20 children suffering from diarrhea. Diarrhea is one of the leading killers of children under age five and has been identified as one of the leading diseases among the global refugee population due to poor water and sanitation conditions
  • $10 = A year’s worth of Vitamin A supplements for 250 children. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness, and it increases the risk of death from common diseases like diarrhea. Vitamin A is a proven low-cost intervention
  • $37 = Deworming tablets for 1,000 children. Reducing the prevalence and intensity of worm infections, which can seriously impair a child’s health, helps them gain more nutrition from their food to keep growing and learning in school
  • $30 = Pencils for 1,000 children. Pencils are one of the most basic but important supplies for a child’s education. Such simple and practical items are crucial to help children learn skills that can lift an entire family out of poverty
  • $40 = Measles vaccines for 50 children. Measles is highly contagious and is a leading cause of death among children. 

Fatoumata of Bougouni, Mali, here with her twin daughters Foune and Wassa, has five children. All of them have received a full course of immunizations thanks to UNICEF. "My five children are very healthy," she says. "It is because of the vaccines."  ©UNICEF/UN0198195/Njiokikjtien VII Photo

What's the best way to sponsor a child?

The single most effective way you can help UNICEF fight for every child, everywhere, is by becoming a monthly donor. A small monthly gift can make a huge difference in the lives of so many children by providing steady funding that allows UNICEF to be on the ground before, during and after a crisis, providing the protection, nutrition, health care, safe water and education children need month after month.

After meeting Baby Yasmin and her big sisters in inland Bahia, Brazil, UNICEF and partners got the older girls into school. Now they — and Yasmin — have a chance to break the cycle of illiteracy that consigned their mother and grandmother to a life of poverty. © UNICEF/UN0225944/Libório

Monthly Donors receive:

  • A dedicated team to answer questions via email or phone

  • Quarterly 8-page newsletter with updates on children UNICEF is helping thanks to generous donors like you

  • Annual statements to make tax time easier

  • An easy-to-use donor portal that simplifies modifying gift amounts, updating payment methods and making other changes, including the timing of donations with the option to cancel at any point

  • Targeted communications in the form of monthly statements detailing giving to date 

Save a child. Become a monthly donor now.