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Always looking for new ways to help children in poverty

Helping children in poverty has always been at our heart, although how we do it has changed over time. What’s been consistent is our desire to ever improve how we make an impact — we’ve fostered a spirit of innovation from the beginning, first as China's Children Fund, then as Christian Children’s Fund and now as ChildFund International.

Innovation #1: The sponsorship model

Our founder, Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke, was an early innovator in gathering support for his cause: He started the “child sponsorship” concept we know today, asking a sponsor to donate to help one child.

Innovation #2: Working with families

Acting on its growing understanding of what works for children, ChildFund moved from running orphanages to helping families and communities fight poverty at its roots.

Innovation #3: Local communities run the local programs

Because helping an individual child only goes so far, we added community-level interventions. We determined the best way forward for lasting change was to have local people lead those local programs, because they understand cultural nuances and their local needs best. We added a focus on the whole child — not just physical needs, but emotional and social ones, as well.

Innovation #4: Pioneering accountability measures

As we grew, we knew our sponsors would want to know their dollars were being well spent, so we created a Code of Fundraising Ethics: our continuing promise that we will conduct ourselves with accountability, integrity, stewardship and honesty.

Innovation #5: A fund for emergencies

We created the Emergency Action Fund, which allows our emergency response teams to provide immediate relief and long-term assistance to children in wars, droughts, hurricanes and more.

Innovation #6: Places for recovery

We established the first of our Child-Centered Spaces to help children affected by war recover, learn, play and heal. These spaces, which we now offer in any kind of emergency, help children return to a sense of normalcy, hope and calm.

Innovation #7: A new approach to program development

We conducted an in-depth study on child poverty, which revealed that children acutely feel not only the physical but also the emotional and social impacts of poverty. As a result, we found that listening to children’s voices when it comes to how poverty affects them makes a profound difference in how we help them improve their futures. We listen before we act. And when we help, it’s as a partner.

We’ll keep growing and learning

We’ve evolved and innovated over the years to improve the lives of children who are in the most distress, and we empower the communities where they live to take responsibility for this work themselves. We will continue doing so, to ensure that children are heard and receive the physical, cognitive, psychological, emotional and social support they need to become leaders in their communities.


ChildFund International has earned high ratings from Charity Navigator, the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charities Review Council.

Learn more about our financial accountability »

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