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U.S. Obliged to Help World’s Poor Children

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Two in Three Americans Say

One third of those surveyed put aid for globe’s poorest children as top priority

Richmond, Va. – March 9, 2010 – Despite an inward focus on domestic issues like healthcare and forward-looking concerns over global warming, an overwhelming number of Americans (66%) believes that the United States has an obligation to help poor children around the world. In fact, according to a just-released survey sponsored by ChildFund International and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, almost one-third (31%) think that aid to the globe’s poorest children should be our nation’s number one charitable priority.

“It is heartening, especially in light of a challenging economy, to see that so many Americans recognize the plight of millions of children around the world whose needs are so great,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, a U.S.-based global child development agency (formerly known as Christian Children’s Fund). “Unfortunately, due to the global economic downturn, conditions among developing nations around the world are becoming increasingly dire. By the end of 2010, it is estimated that an additional 89 million people – likely half of them children – will fall below the poverty line.”

The survey revealed a varying spectrum of awareness about conditions affecting poor children around the world. On average, Americans rightly estimated that 47 percent of the world's children live in poverty, with two in three (66%) survey respondents correctly identifying malnutrition as the single largest cause of death, outside of trauma, for children under 5 years of age.

When asked to estimate the annual household income in developing nations, however, the median estimate was $5,000, which is generally regarded as high, given the fact that the gross domestic income per capita in the least developed nations is $585, or about $1.60 per day.

“By U.S. standards, there may not be a full appreciation for how much a small donation makes in the lives of these children, but when people are living on less than $2 a day, there really is no contribution that is too small,” Goddard said.

The survey found that many Americans have contributed to organizations helping the world’s poor children. A total of 62 percent of those surveyed said they have personally given to an international relief agency.

When asked whose responsibility is it to help children in developing nations, almost three in 10 (29%) said international nonprofit organizations, followed by the governments where the children live (25%), developed nations such as the United States (19%) and faith-based organizations (16%). 

As for the question on the highest priority of charitable giving, helping underserved families in the United States tied with helping the world’s poor children at 31 percent.  Helping to wipe out infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis was cited by 16 percent, followed by contributing to reducing global warming at 10 percent.

For a complete set of survey findings, please contact Steve Cummings at or Cynthia Price at or 804-756-2722. 

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ChildFund International, formerly named Christian Children’s Fund, is a global child development and protection agency, helping the world's deprived, excluded and vulnerable children survive and thrive to reach their full potential. Serving children since 1938, ChildFund International works in 31 countries and helps more than 15.2 million children and family members worldwide, regardless of race, creed or origin. ChildFund International is a member of the ChildFund Alliance. It has earned 4 stars from Charity Navigator.

Survey Methodology

A nationally representative sample of 1,002 randomly selected working adults was interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ U.S. Telephone Express omnibus between December 10 and 13, 2009.  With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adults in the U.S. been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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