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LAST UPDATED: July 21st, 2023
Founded in 1950 and headquartered in California, World Vision International is a Christian charity. Donations are given in the form of a monthly sponsorship for a child in need. Some donations are pooled with those of other donors to improve the communities in which the children live. 

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The Good

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

Total Income

World Vision International averages about $1 billion in revenue each year. The total income for the past several years as reported on the organization's IRS Form 990s is listed below:
  • 2014: $1,029,741,839
  • 2013: $975,575,476
  • 2012: $1,002,484,635
  • 2011: $1,051,697,547
  • 2010: $1,022,150,575

Administrative Expenses

The top executive of World Vision International, Mr. Richard E. Stearns, receives a modest salary when compared to top executives of similar organizations. Mr. Stearns receives $447,500 annually, which is 0.04 percent of the total revenue received by World Vision International.

Fundraising Expenses

On average, World Vision International spends about 10 percent of its annual budget on fundraising activities.

Program Percentage

World Vision International states that for every dollar that is donated, the organization is able to achieve the equivalent of $1.30. This is accomplished by World Vision International taking a portion of every donation and investing it, with the average return being reported as the $1.30 for every $1.00. While most organizations invest excess funds, few report their average return on investment. Generally, an organization whose program delivery percentage is above 80 percent is considered to be effectively allocating its funds toward charitable programs. World Vision International reports a program percentage of 84.1 percent.

Accessible Financial Information

World Vision International has published financial statements, annual reports, and IRS Form 990s from 2011 to 2015 on its website. This information is easily accessible. However, there is some confusion about where funds actually go and requests have been made for further transparency.


In 2013, World Vision International was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for its contributions in alleviating poverty and increasing access to clean drinking water by the Millennium Development Goals Trust Fund in Kenya. In 2014, the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion Network (SEEP) honored World Vision International as Member of the Year for its work building communities in poverty worldwide.

The Bad

  • Donor communication
  • Negative press

Donor Communication

Those who elect to donate funds to World Vision International can expect regular communication from the organization about its efforts and accomplishments. However, there is some level of controversy about what donors should reasonably expect. Many donors report that they expected to receive communication from their sponsored child, which is not necessarily the case. One thing that most donors should expect is to receive requests for additional funds from World Vision International.

Negative Press

World Vision International has received some negative press with serious allegations. For example, in March 2014, World Vision International announced that it was moving to a more progressive employment policy and would begin to hire openly-homosexual individuals, something that it had banned since its inception. However, this announcement received severe backlash from several high-profile religious leaders and the ban was reinstated after two days. In August 2016, World Vision International's Gaza director, Mohammed El Halaby, was accused of supporting Hamas, which is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization, with World Vision International donations meant to support those in need. These allegations are still under investigation.

The Bottom Line

World Vision International is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world with lower-than-average administrative expenses. World Vision International makes its financial information accessible and its program delivery percentage indicates that the organization is using funds effectively. However, there are some flaws in the organization's communication with its donors. Additionally, World Vision has received some negative press with serious allegations.
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Unicorny Oakland, CA

For the past 10 years I've sponsored a little girl in Haiti through World Vision. When I initially signed up, I was given to understand that I could mail presents, that I would get a photo of her with the presents I sent, that I would be able to email her and get replies, and that I would continue to sponsor her until she was 18. I joined because I wanted the personal relationship this seemed to promise. At first I got photos of her with the gifts I sent her, but soon I didn't get photos unless I sent monetary gifts. No photos were provided with the packages I sent through the mail. A couple of years ago they changed her address without informing me. I had made pre-printed address labels, so didn't realize the presents were going to the wrong address until one of my gifts was returned in the mail a year later. I don't know what happened to the other gifts. I sent more packages to the correct address over a year ago, but got no response. This week I suddenly got an email that said my child's community has "graduated". They included a film that showed the community has clean water, some sanitary facilities and a play area, but not a lot else. I know my child went to school, but don't know if the school will continue, what the children have been learning, or what sort of medical care they may receive in the future. There used to be an email where I could write with questions or complaints, but now I can't find it in their emails or on their site. They provide a phone number, so I called it and waited on hold. I spoke to an overly chatty but rather glib man who told me my child didn't receive the last few packages I sent, that I should've called sooner, and that they are not responsible for the mail in Nicaragua. (I reminded him that my child is in Haiti.) I went to a lot of trouble to mail these things and am so disappointed. He told me I can send her a final email, but no further letters, monetary gifts or packages. I am really disappointed that this was done with no prior notice. My sponsored child is only 12. I had purchased other gifts to send her and now don't know what to do with them. This is too abrupt. I feel that World Vision has abandoned both my sponsored child and myself without sufficient advance notice or information. I also learned that they've already ended the monthly donation to my sponsored child and transferred it to another child in a different country without my permission. This was not clear in the emails they sent me. I told them to stop the donation as I don't want to repeat this experience. It's probably a better use of funds just to donate to a charity that provides food, education or healthcare without promising a "personal connection." Your money will be better spent, and you and your sponsored child won't wind up feeling abandoned.

4 months ago

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Anne San Antonio, TX

have recently rescinded my association, because I found their giving options disingenuous. There is the monthly support, then family gift from which 25% is taken out for the community. I gave to both. Then I gave additional family gifts, only to find they were given to a community in its entirety, and cannot find out which community, and what it went for. Could not even verify a birthday party or christmas occured, though gave to both funds. Also, though money to go for meals and education, cannot verify that either. Several thousand dollars given... in my mind, no verifiable results, so I quit.

3 years ago