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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Why some sponsors do not write

The simple answer for some of them - they don't know how important it is to write regularly.

What I hear you cry, of course they do: Compassion tells them, OurCompassion tells them, their sponsored kids write to them, they probably have a build-up of Compassion letter writing paper, the get sponsored kids birthday reminder emails, they get emailed about the Christmas fund, they get letters posted to them including blank Christmas cards....

I wrote regularly:
  • I regularly wrote every Christmas. I made a donation to the Christmas fund. I sent an e-card with a personalised greeting. I search around to find some pictures of me or my pets and attached them to the front of the card.
  • I regularly wrote every year in time for their birthday's. I sent a financial gift. Again I send an e-card with a picture.
Of course my sponsored children wrote 3 times a year to me. Occasionally I even filled in some the included Compassion writing paper and popped it in the post.

I was receiving 3 letters a year, my sponsored child was getting 2 regular letters a year, plus any extras occasionally. No problem right?

I'd even made more of an effort over the past 6 months. I wrote in October on the Compassion writing paper, I sent out Christmas cards and Birthday cards to each child and I wrote them another letter in February and even managed to work out how to include a bookmark for them. 4 letters to each of them in half a year, I must have been doing good.

These were the two posts that changed my mind:
GypsyMama - Lame sponsors of the world unite
BloggingFromTheBoonies - The delivery

I was Googling for the answer to a question I had regarding sponsoring my third child through Compassion. I didn't find the answer online, I phoned the CompassionUK office and got my answer there. I did find out however that I was being a lame sponsor.

Oh I knew I needed to encourage my sponsored children, I knew they would like the letters and probably keep them...
... The point I was missing though, was my children were turning up at their projects' mail day each month, fortnight or week and being disappointed most of the time. Their projects' were getting mail more regularly than I thought, and they were being shown that I didn't care, I couldn't be bothered to write to them. No-one had told me just how often I should be writing and how important it was to my kids. It's the only way they know for definite that I'm thinking of them.

It didn't matter that my friends and co-workers know their names, it didn't matter that I show people their pictures, it didn't matter that I've fundraised for Compassion...
... None of that mattered, because my sponsored kids didn't know about any of it. They just knew I only wrote a handful of letters to them.

My sponsored kids didn't need me to write occasionally throughout the year. They need me to write once or twice a month  and remind them that they are important.

I've learnt some surprising things over the last few weeks, mainly through reading other sponsors blogs:
  • Most importantly how regularly the projects get mail.
  • How to send a letter without using the Compassion letter writing paper.
  • How to include a paper gift with my item.
  • What fantastic things I can actually send my kids, even though it's all paper.
  • That the US and Canadian MyCompassion sites are much better than the CompassionUK one, they have more details on their sponsored kids online and a fantastic online email facility with a bunch of different templates.
  • That OurCompassion has really grown since it was set up and there's some fantastic stuff on their now.
  • That some people write to their sponsored kids several times a month.
None of those points I knew before. I knew the very basics of letter writing before. Well actually Compassion had written that I could use my own stationary and send gifts, but I didn't really get quite how creative I could be with it.

It does however worry me that I didn't know those facts, and that means there's probably a whole lot of sponsors that don't know those facts. I only found out when I was sponsoring my third child through Compassion...
... How many kids are missing out just because their sponsors don't know.

Recently I sponsored Ladan. I was quite excited to get his pack. All I knew was that he'd be a young boy from Uganda, I let CompassionUK pick the exact child. I'd read great things about the new sponsor info packs. I heard there was a part I could fill in imformation about myself and mail it off to my new sponsored kid...
I have to say I was impressed. I got: a very nice little cardboard folder, a photo in a stand up cardboard frame, a wallet sized photo, a USB login stick to set up MyCompassion on my account,  a booklet of info about Ladan and his project, info about Compassion, a booklet about writing to Ladan, some writing paper and nothing to fill in about me and send off to Ladan (I made my own version instead). The letter writing booklet is sparse on info, if that was all the info I'd got on writing for the last month or so, then I would have carried on being a lame sponsor.

The MyCompassion section on CompassionUK really could do with catching up with the US and Canadian MyCompassion sections. We have less info about our sponsored kids and writing to them is far more basic. Each letter I send has the same template. There's 4 templates to chose from, but only one is really suitable for my kids. It doesn't make for exciting letter writing. I'm not sure why the MyCompassion sites really are all that different, but I definitely think moving to the updated model would help encourage UK sponsors to write.

Over the past month I've learnt so much more about Compassion, I thought I was pretty clued up before, but a whole bunch of bloggers out there have opened up my eyes. That have show me how to write, how creative I can be, what fantastic paper gifts I can send and have shared their experiences and ideas. This blog is to join their efforts, to give ideas how and what to write to a sponsored child on the other side of the world, the info I wish I known nearly 3 years ago when I first started sponsoring Sunita. Hopefully Ladan will never know what it is like to have a lame sponsor. I know there are a whole group of dedicated sponsors the world over, who want to encourage others. But I've also learnt there are a lot of lame sponsors out there. Some probably know they are being lame sponsors, but what really worries me are the ones that don't and the sponsored kids who therefore miss out.

And if your and lame sponsor and you need any more convincing to write to your sponsored kids:
Compassion - The importance of letters
Compassion - 10 motivating reasons to write to your child

1 comment:

  1. Angela, I love your post. I hope that the message spreads and sponsors are encouraged and inspired!!