Compassion International

Compassion International is an American child sponsorship and Christian humanitarian aid organization headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado that aims to positively impact long-term development of children living in poverty, globally.

Compassion International
FounderEverett Swanson
TypeChristian child sponsorship non-profit organization
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
Area served
25 Countries across four continents
Key people
Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado (president and CEO)
US$ 1,001,200,000 (2020)[2]
ExpensesProgram Services:
US$ 813,929,000 (2020)[2]

Support Activities:
US$ 185,251,000 (2020)[2]

US$ 999,180,000 (2020)[2]

As of 2019, the organization coordinated donations from at least ten participating countries, operated childhood programs in 25 impoverished countries (including Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, and Kenya), and involved more than two million participants, from infants through young adults, in its programs.

Preliminary independent, secular research in the Journal of Political Economy studied the organization, concluding that it had large and statistically significant impacts on participants' years of school completion, the probability of later employment, as well as the quality of that employment, in part as a consequence of increased aspirations of participating children.


The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea.[3] He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army, but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war. In 1953, he began to raise funds, and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month.[4] The name of the association changed to Compassion, Inc. in 1963, inspired by Jesus' words "I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry" (Matthew 15.32).[5]


As of November 2019, the board chair of the organization was Judy Golz, the President and CEO was and Santiago Mellado.[6]


Compassion helps those in impoverished areas using a holistic approach to child development.[7] This approach goes well beyond simply providing food and medical aid and also involves education and training to prepare the individuals for contributing back to their community.[8]

The organization also helps in emergency situations and for the funding of health centers. [9][10][11]

Child sponsorshipEdit

Children in the child sponsorship Program are provided food and clean water, medical care, education, life-skills training, and spiritual guidance through a direct sponsorship. Sponsored children are selected by the sponsors, and two-way communication is encouraged between the sponsored child and the sponsor. As of January 2019 the cost to sponsor a child through Compassion was US$38 per month, and globally there were over two million "babies, children and young adults" in its programs.[12]

Sponsors are able to visit their sponsored children through trips planned by Compassion International. Compassion's goal is to provide a trip to each country every other year. Compassion coordinates every aspect of the trip including travel, meals, tips and gratuities, fees related to the travel, and sightseeing fares.[13]

Compassion operated in India for 48 years, with its $45 million in transfers a year, making it India's largest single foreign donor.[14] Compassion provided services under its Child Sponsor Program to 145,000 Indian children.[14] In 2015, Compassion affiliates' offices were raided by tax investigators seeking evidence whether it was funding religious conversions.[14] Compassion said it was then forced to direct funding to non-Christian Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh groups.[14] Compassion refused to do so as it would be a misuse of funds that donors all around the world trusted them with. After talks back and forth, in 2017, the Government of India barred Compassion from transferring funds into India, forcing the group to close its operations in that country.[14] The Ministry of External Affairs later clarified that the ban had nothing to do with the ideology of Compassion International.[15]


Compassion International is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability,[16] holds a grade of "A" from CharityWatch,[17][18] and met the "20 Standards for Charity Accountability" from the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.[19]

In 2013, a primary research report in the Journal of Political Economy provided evidence in support of the conclusion that child sponsorship via Compassion International resulted in significant positive outcomes for the children in the study set.[20][21] The research by Bruce Wydick, Paul Glewwe, and Laine Rutledge studied Compassion efforts in six countries with 10,144 children studied, reporting "large, statistically significant impacts on years of schooling; primary, secondary, and tertiary school completion; and the probability and quality of employment." They went on to note that the evidence, while early, "suggest[ed] that these impacts are due, in part, to increases in children’s aspirations."[20][22]

Through 2015, Compassion International has received Charity Navigator's highest four star rating for 15 consecutive years, thereby receiving special recognition on their "10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings" list.[23] However, Charity Navigator changed its rating system in 2016,[24] Compassion International's 2016 overall rating was three stars out of four, for its accountability and transparency.[25]

In 2016, Compassion was ranked 15th largest charity organization in the US, by Forbes magazine with $799 million in private donations received.[26]


Compassion AustraliaEdit

Compassion Australia is a Christian holistic child development and child advocacy organisation that works in partnership with local churches to foster the spiritual, economic, social, physical and emotional development of children living in extreme poverty in over 25 countries. Compassion Australia is based in Warabrook, NSW, and has regional offices in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. The organisation now has over 150 committed team members and many more volunteers who offer their time, energy and skills towards the organisational vision of seeing the transformation of lives, communities and nations through releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. Compassion Australia is a global partner of Compassion International, whose headquarters are located in Colorado Springs, United States.[27]

Today, Compassion International supports more than 2 million children[27] through 12 international partner countries who provide the funds, resources and program development assistance that enables Compassion's programs to be implemented around the world.


  1. ^ "Compassion International". Charity Navigator. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT" (PDF). Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  3. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 617
  4. ^ Victorien SAWADOGO, ONG "Compassion international" : Soutenir 22 000 enfants défavorisés,, Burkina Faso, August 24, 2004
  5. ^ Katherine Marshall, Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers, Routledge, USA, 2013, p. 167
  6. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Mae Elise Cannon, Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2009, p. 153
  8. ^ Jean Daniel Sénat, Après 20 ans, Compassion International réoriente son programme de formation en leadership,, Haïti, February 13, 2017
  9. ^ Stephen Offutt, New Centers of Global Evangelicalism in Latin America and Africa, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2015, p. 125
  10. ^ Le Nouvelliste, 45 ans auprès des plus vulnérables d'Haïti,, Haïti, October 4, 2013
  11. ^ Stephanie Earls, Compassion International seeking donations to support ongoing relief in Haiti,, USA, October 16, 2016
  12. ^ "Two Million Now Registered in Ministry's Child Development Program". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  13. ^ "Compassion Trips FAQ". Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d e Barry, Ellen; Raj, Suhasini (March 8, 2017). "Major Christian Charity Is Closing India Operations Amid a Crackdown". The New York Times. pp. A4. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  15. ^ Zeera, Rosheena (March 9, 2017). "No 'Ideological' Reason Behind Compassion International Ban: MEA". The Quint. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  16. ^ "Meet ECFA's Charter Members". ECFA. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  17. ^ Daniel Borochoff (February 20, 2008). "American Institute of Philanthropy at". Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  18. ^ "Ratings and Metrics: Compassion International at". Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  19. ^ "". Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  20. ^ a b Wydick, Bruce; Glewwe, Paul; Rutledge, Laine (2013), "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes", Journal of Political Economy, The University of Chicago, 121 (2): 1–8, CiteSeerX, doi:10.1086/670138, JSTOR 10.1086/670138
  21. ^ Wydick, Bruce (June 14, 2013). "Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child". Christianity Today. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  22. ^ Specifically, the study concluded that, "the Compassion child sponsorship program increases years of completed schooling by 1.03–1.46 years over a baseline of 10.19 years and increases the probability of primary school completion by 4.0–7.7 percentage points (baseline 88.7 percent), secondary school completion by 11.6–16.5 percentage points (baseline 44.9 percent), and university completion by 2.1–2.4 percentage points (baseline 4.3 percent)... [and found] impacts of 5.1–6.3 percentage points on the probability of salaried employment in adulthood and a 6.5–6.7 percentage point increase in the probability of white-collar employment, as well as modest evidence for causal impacts on community and church leadership." See Wydick, Glewwe & Rutledge (2013), op.cit.
  23. ^ "4 Stars for 15 Years in a Row". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  24. ^ "Rating System Evolution". Charity Navigator. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  25. ^ "Page at". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  26. ^ William P. Barrett, The Largest U.S. Charities For 2016,, USA, December 14, 2016
  27. ^ a b "Two Million Now Registered in Ministry's Child Development Program". Retrieved January 14, 2019.

External linksEdit