Handbook of the Orphan Ministry

at the LBS Mwika (HUYAMWI)

paper 4: sponsorship from overseas

Released  24.2.04 – Author: Rev. Dr. Martin Burkhardt

A) Introduction

Many people in Germany and Overseas are ready to give money to sponsor a certain child. Organisations like “World Vision”, “Kindernothilfe”, “Plan International” have arranged about 330.000 sponsorships in Germany.

The reason, why they are so successful is, that the sponsor get something individual as a reward for their money. A picture of the sponsored child, a personal letter from the beneficiary etc. So the sponsors get the feeling, that their money is used in the right way.

However other organisations like “Brot für die Welt” don’t arrange sponsorships, because they see the  disadvantages : By a personalized sponsorship only a selected child receives help, his or her friends in the same village receive nothing. Another disadvantage are the high running costs, of translating and distributing the personal letters  in both directions.

However the modern concept of sponsoring children provides also money for projects within the community of the sponsored child. So a certain part of the donations  is not used for the child personally but is spent on community- development projects like health.- or water-projects. Also the big sponsorship organisations have shown, that the can do the required linking between the sponsor and the beneficiary  effectively and at low costs.

B)  Our task as advisors  in the arrangement of sponsorship/ scholarships.

I)              We have to see the needs of the sponsors

a)   The sponsor wants to give money, but he wants to have a feed back.

b)   He/ She wants to know  the one, who received the money / personally ( having the name, a picture etc).

c)   He wants to establish a long term relationship of responsibility.

d)   The sponsor want to understand, why this child is chosen to be sponsored.

e)   He want to have security, that the money is used properly, there fore he choose a personalised form of help instead of spending money only for non-personal purpose, like running cost etc. Because this person can be asked theoretically, whether the help reached it target.

f)     The sponsor wants to spend his money in a small, reasonable area. Large organisations and concepts are suspicious to him.


II)            We have to see the needs of the receiving congregation

a)   The receiving congregation has a lot of orphans, even more than there are going to be sponsored.

b)   The congregation has the (hard) task to explain to those, who are not going to be sponsored, why they are not chosen and the congregation needs to keep peace and unity with all orphans even while a scholarship program is running.

c)   Therefore the  receiving congregation needs also to  run a program carrying for the other orphans not being sponsored.

d)   The congregation can not use a lot of time to prepare reports documentation etc for those being sponsored and neglect those who are not sponsored.

e)   The congregation needs to react quickly to urgent needs of some orphans and to use even more money for some special cases (for example repair of houses of orphan and widows)

f)     The congregation needs to evaluate the needs of all orphans regularly in order to adjust the scholarship-program to the actual needy families.

III)          We have to mediate between the sponsor and the receivers.

a)   We have to reduce the expectations of the sponsors concerning the expected feed back.

b)   We have to  raise the awareness of the sponsors to see the need to run a program for all orphans not only for selected ones.

c)   We have to raise the awareness of sponsors, that the receiving congregation needs the legal possibility to distribute the available funds according to the actual needs. This means, there must be an allowance for special cases, and the possibility to change the amount of the distributed money  or to change the final beneficiaries, if necessary.

d)   We have to educate the congregations to use the tool of sponsorship effectively, transparently and righteously. This means all steps and decision of the receiving congregation concerning the scholarship-program must be documented and this type of documentation must be made accessible to the sponsor. The receiving congregation must use the criteria of justice as far as possible.

C)  The problems of a classical direct sponsorship.

I)              Definition of a direct sponsorship

a)   One individual sponsor (normally in overseas)

b)   One individual receiver

c)   A certain amount of money is given per year, which must be spent for the receiver only ( after taking away a certain amount of money for the running costs of the mediating agency)

d)   Running over a long period of time: normally from primary-school up to the end of higher education.

II)            Problems for the receiver

On the first glace the establishment of a long-lasting relationship seem to be a relieve for the receiver and seems to be a replacement for the lost financial security provided by the deceased parents. However money can not replace paternal love. If this money is provided without the guarding love it can lead to some psychological problems:

a)   Lack of responsibility for the use of the provided money, because the money is given without the providential parental guidance, which normally will withhold further payment of the money if the child shows any kind of misbehaviour.

b)   Lack of initiative of one’s one. Because the sponsor will take care of most of the financial needs of the receiver, the receiver will have no need to develop strategies to raise sufficient funds for his personal living costs. True paternal love will always educate children to be independent and reliable.

c)   Isolation from his extended family, because other member of his clan will look suspicious and with jealousy at the one, who received the chance and possibility of a higher education and material support.

Note: One of the reasons we introduced our trainee program is to prevent these types of problems, because our trainee program focus on the personal development of the orphans, before we release them into any kind of sponsored higher education.

III)          Problems concerning the family system of the receiver.

Of course if one member of a family will get a chance for higher education this is great joy and sign of hope for the whole family.  But  we need t o see, that concept of the family will cause some problems to comply with the idea of a individual direct sponsorship.

a)   The individual sponsorship will be misunderstood as a general support for the whole family of the receivers.

b)   The family of the receiver will expect help from the sponsor also in areas outside the defined help.

Clever family members will use the address of sponsor to bypass the mediating agency to write directly to the sponsor to get additional help for special problems. This attitude may continue for life-time, even if the original beneficiary has already left the official sponsor program.

c)   Other family members expect to benefit from the  received help, even if they are not needy person.

d)   The receiver of the help will experience pressure from his older relatives, which he can not resists, because a younger person can not speak against his/her older relatives.

e)   After receiving help from outside, the other clan-members will change their behaviour: They will expect help from the beneficiary, instead of providing help for him/her. So help from outside is killing the natural help and responsibility within the family clan.


IV)         Problems  concerning the community / municipality, where the receiver is living in.

a)   The provided help for individual persons will divide the local community into two division: the receivers and the non-receivers.

b)   The receivers will try to maintain their status as the receivers and will not be ready to accept any changes cutting down the once promised help.

c)   The provided help will also open the door for any kind of corruption, because to get a sponsorship is a good chance to live without sorrows for a long time.

d)   The above described division in the society will prevent, that the community really sees its responsibility to care for needy person. Instead there will be a war about the issue of the right distribution, which really hinders the society to find a solution for all orphans who need help.


V)           Conclusion

The above described problems show, that direct sponsorship, if it is understood only as a help from individual to individual is not the way to supply help. If direct sponsorship is not handled properly it will cause more problems, than it is going to solve.

In fact even the big NGOs providing personal sponsorships are using a part of the given money to cooperate with family and the local community.

a)   Direct sponsorship providing a certain amount of money for an individual is not a solution state-of-the-art .

b)   A part of the money must be used for the benefit of the family  and of the community also in order to include the basic social environment of the final receivers.

c)   A long term sponsorship is creating dependency on both sides without the possibility to revaluate the needs and to adjust the full program to the changed situation. A regular evaluation of the sponsorships also reduces the danger of corruption. Also it make it possible that there is a rotation between receivers and non-receivers.

D)  An integrated sponsorship program.

I)              Our sponsorship program will integrate the different shareholders.

A classical “Direct sponsoring” program  includes only the sponsor, the receiver and a mediating agency . An integrating sponsorship program includes also the social context of the receiver.

a)   The  individual sponsor and his local community (in our case for example the congregation of Heikendorf)

b)   The individual receiver ( the orphan)

c)   The family of the receiver

d)   The community of the receiver (in our case the congreation)

e)   The mediatig agency ( in our case LBS Mwika)


II)            Qualities required by each shareholder

a)   He/she must take over responsibility for the whole program as well as for his/ her way of decision making and the way how she/he is participating in the program.


b)   He/she must be ready to provide transparent information to other shareholders


c)   He/ she must be ready to communicate with other shareholders.



III)          Dangers  and problems of the integrated model

a)   It is more complicated, than a simple direct sponsoring.

b)   It is slower in decision making

c)   It needs more communication, and therefore on first run it is more expensive.

IV)         Benefit and advantages of an integrated model

a)   It is more just than the  “direct sponsoring model”

b)   It prevents corruption and misuse of funds

c)   It helps the individual, the family and the congregation to develop their own potential to solve the orphan crisis, instead of keeping this potential down.

d)   It helps the society to cover really the needs of a maximum of needy orphans and providing the most sufficient way for them to get proper education and selfsupport, instead of helping only randomly selected orphans

V)           The rule of the local community

In the direct sponsoring model normally only the sponsor and the mediating agency is involved to make decision about the distribution of funds.

a)   In the integrated model also the community is involved to make decisions, e. g. who is receiving help, and which kind of help. The community has to collect the data of the needy person and to evaluate them and has to present the persons and their needs to the sponsors.

b)   The local community has also the task to monitor the scholarship program and to adjust it to the change of needs. Therefore it has to evaluate the sponsorship program regularly.


c)   The local community has also the task to balance the sponsorship program with measures reaching out to all orphans.

d)   The local community has therefore to prepare a balanced plan to provide scholarship and support to all needy orphans (see paper 3)

VI)         The rule of the sponsor

There are two models of sponsoring depending, how much the sponsor is integrated in the decision making process.

a)   Blind sponsoring

The sponsor(s) will promise a certain amount  of money. According to this fund the community is providing a plan of sponsorship, presenting the sponsor(s)  names and the amount of money needed for each child. By this way of sponsoring the community can really make a reasonable plan, because it knows the budget and it can divide this budget according to the actual needs.

I know even some organisations, which use a total blind sponsoring: This means they are not reporting the names of the sponsored students,  to avoid the problem of identification in case that a student needs  to be drawn from the program because of incorrect conduct or insufficient results.

b)   Selective sponsoring

The community will present needy persons and their needs to the sponsors, who then will decide, who is going to be sponsored

The disadvantage of this method, is that the community will be forced to present “many poor cases”, in order to get the chance to get more sponsors. Also the danger will be there, that some orphans may not be chosen by the sponsors, because of less important motives like the attraction of the presented picture. An other danger is, that a well tuned program of the community will be sponsored partial, and so again a just distribution of funds may not be possible.

However the Selective sponsoring method  has the advantages, that it includes the sponsor in the decision making process and he/she has also the possibility to control the development of the program.

c)   Compromise between selective and blind sponsoring: cooperate sponsoring

First of all it is very important, that the local community will provide accurate data about the orphans and their needs and the plan of the local community to help these orphans. It needs to build confidence. If this confidence is build the sponsor will be ready to sponsor also an overall plan for all orphans. The sponsor needs also to identify with the community and must take over responsibility for the whole community and all its orphans. The sponsor must understand, that he is not able to help one individual orphan effectively without sponsoring an overall plan for all orphans.

The identification is easier if the sponsor himself is organized in a cooperated identity, like a congregation a company, a society , an association etc. An  alternative to the individual sponsoring (“ I help you”) must be a cooperate sponsoring. “We  are sponsoring you (Plural)”

A cooperate identity will have the possibility to be a equivalent partner to the local community carrying out the ministry to the orphans and therefore it can develop together with it a plan to help the orphans.

For example: An association  is collecting  funds to help orphans. Each member of the association will be a shareholder given a certain amount of money for example 50 Euros  a year. The collected amount of money will be presented to the community here in Tanzania, which will be asked to present a plan of use for this fund. The plan of the community  can know be discussed by the association and can be accepted. By this way the association keeps the control of the use of the funds and the possibility to make adjustments. After making a final agreement the money is transferred and used according to the agreement.

However the single sponsor in this type of program, will not directly sponsor a certain orphan, but he can identify himself with one of the sponsored orphans, whose pictures and names may me sent to the association. He even may choose symbolically one picture to identify with one of the sponsored orphans.

VII)       The rule of the family of the receiver

a)   The family needs to be informed about the ideas and rules of sponsorship.

b)   Within the released sponsorship there must be funds available for the benefit of the whole family, like providing shelter, food and other important things to the brothers and sisters of the selected orphan.

VIII)     Periods for sponsorships

a)   The sponsorship may not be given unconditioned for a long period of time. Each year the sponsorship needs to be evaluated and needs to be discussed with all shareholders, the recipient, his/her family, the local community and the sponsors. This is necessary to adjust the sponsorship according to the needs and development of the recipient and his family.

b)   However to avoid long communication processes each year there may be a shorter evaluation each year and a general discussion about the renewal of the sponsorship after two or at least three years.

c)   In case of a secondary-school sponsorship, the sponsorship may be promised for four year, but under the condition of good and sufficient performance at school.