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.


Rank Chart
Total Income
Program Percentage
Our Score

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a sponsorship commitment?
Sponsors are able to cancel their donations at any time, but it is discouraged by the organization. According to World Vision International’s website, “sponsoring a child is an ongoing commitment where you’re able to help meet the basic needs of a child by investing in their community, as well as build a relationship and watch them grow up until they, or their community, become independent. Sponsoring a child is like inviting another person into your family.”

Do donations go to the child’s family?
World Vision International uses combined resources to build and strengthen communities in order to help all families.

Are sponsorship opportunities available in the United States?
World Vision International has some domestic programs available, but only children living in other countries are eligible for sponsorship.

How does a child or community learn about Christianity?
World Vision International works in both communities that already have a Christian background and in communities where being Christian is outside of the social norm or even dangerous. Representatives identify themselves as working for a Christian community and build relationships with others as is appropriate in these variable areas, but for the most part, children are exposed to Christianity through example.

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