Founded in 1952 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Compassion International is a child-sponsoring charitable organization that was originally known as the Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association. The sponsorship model was launched in 1953 and the organization officially became Compassion International in 1963.

 

Rank Chart
Total Income
Program Percentage
Our Score
#1
$888,650,367
99.2%
8.7
#2
$2,171,175,300
98%
7.8
#3
$912,451,190
95%
7.4
#12
thumbnail-18
$765,156,592
83.1%
5.6

The Good

  • Total income
  • Administrative expenses
  • Fundraising expenses
  • Program percentage
  • Accessible financial information

Total Income

Over the last several years, Compassion International has reported a steadily growing income. All totals are for the organization’s fiscal year ending in June of the reported year.

  • 2015: $765,156,592
  • 2014: $712,969,008
  • 2013: $656,893,101
  • 2012: $596,083,005

Administrative Expenses

Compassion International reports a lower percentage of its income going towards meeting its administrative expenses than fundraising activities, which is not the norm among most charitable organizations. For the fiscal year ending in June 2015, the organization reported that 7.4 percent of its income, or $57,323,669, was allocated to administrative support. Top executives received salaries which were less than those given by many other charitable organizations. Current president and CEO, Santiago H. Mellado, received 0.03 percent of total revenue, or $296,044, in 2014.

Fundraising Expenses

Compassion International uses an average of 10 percent of its annual revenue for fundraising activities.

Program Percentage

The percentage of an organization’s revenue directed towards delivering its program is a very important measure of the quality of an organization’s fiscal responsibility. Most charity watchdog organizations consider a percentage of above 80 percent as an indicator of effective program delivery. Compassion International states on its website that the organization works to keep its program percentage at or above 80 percent. For the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2015, Compassion International used 83.1 percent of its income for program delivery.

Accessible Financial Information

Compassion International publishes its annual reports (2011–2015), auditor’s reports (2011–2015) and IRS Form 990s (2009–2015) on its website. This information can be easily found and is comprehensive.

The Bad

  • Negative press
  • Donor communication
  • Awards

Negative Press

Legal Battles about “Compassion”

Once in 1997 and once in 2015, Compassion International’s legal representation sent threatening cease and desist letters to two organizations which used the word “Compassion” in the name of their organizations. Both entities were surprised at the demands and, without funds to fight a battle in court, changed the names of their organizations. These start-up organizations did not attempt to confuse or deceive, as they were accused; they simply chose a word to illustrate the mission of their organization.

Support of “Son of God” Movie
Compassion International voiced support for the 2014 movie Son of God, which depicted the life of Jesus Christ. However, many Christians found the film to be contrary to their beliefs in the Bible. As such, many have expressed concern about the Christianity of the mission of Compassion International.

Donor Communication

Donors are promised that they will receive updates on the status of the child whom they have sponsored from the organization, as well as directly from the child or child’s family. This seems to be highly variable; some donors report that they wait months or even years before receiving information directly from their sponsored child, while others report more frequent communication. However, donors can expect a high level of communication from Compassion International. In fact, many donors report receiving excessive fundraising requests via postal mail after they have begun to sponsor a child.

Awards

Compassion International has been recognized for its workplace environment, as well as the quality of the organization’s public relations. The awards that the organization has received are not spontaneously given; rather, the organization submitted information to another organization for entry into a field. The entrants were judged and awards were given out among the pool of eligible entries. While these awards do represent achievement, they are not weighted the same as recognitions that awarded spontaneously.

The Bottom Line

Compassion International has many positives in its model. The administrative costs are very reasonable when compared to other programs. Additionally, the organization’s program delivery percentage reflects fiscal responsibility. However, Compassion International has received some negative press and has been accused of over-communicating with donors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Compassion International’s mission or what makes the organization different?
Compassion International states that its program is focused around four principles:

  • Christ-Centered: children and their families are introduced to the message and gospel of Jesus Christ in a culturally-significant way
  • Child-Focused: the organization engages and views each child as a holistic and valued individual
  • Church-Based: support is partnered through a local church to deliver the program to children and their families
  • Committed to Integrity: the organization and its representatives commit to maintaining the highest level of integrity and be an example of Christian discipleship

How many countries have a Compassion International presence?
Compassion International has programs in 26 countries.

How much does it cost to sponsor a child with Compassion International?
The current cost of sponsoring a child is $38 per month.

Does each child only have one sponsor?
Because each child only has one sponsor, Compassion International asks that donors consider their sponsorship as a long-term commitment.

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