Thinking Out Loud

April 21, 2015

World Vision Paying Bookstore Up To $185 For Each Child Sponsor

Free Press

An article published Sunday in the Detroit Free Press on the receivership/restructuring of Family Christian Stores (FCS) carried information not seen to this point, including the amount of kickbacks the chain received from World Vision for each child sponsor recruited. 

We can attest to the solicitations personally; going through the FCS checkout there is a litany of pitches including bonus buy offers, but also charitable causes including placing Bibles in prisons, and child sponsorship:

The one which was most shocking was the amount of the “bounty” paid the company each time someone signed up to sponsor a child through World Vision:

Family Christian has also benefited from customers who sign up to sponsor a third-party group called World Vision, which provides food, clothing and shelter to impoverished children throughout the world.

The chain solicits sponsorships from its customers and receives a $150 fee from World Vision for each customer who signs up and pays the monthly fee, according to records obtained by the Free Press. Family Christian receives another $35 if the customer signs up for automatic payments.

Again, you’re encouraged to read it all at The Detroit Free Press

Let’s do some math here.  The sponsor is paying World Vision $35 per month per child. That means that for the first 5.28 months, the organization has yet to break even. It’s really into the 6th month that the sponsor’s donation is free and clear, but of course there are also overhead costs in that $35 that we don’t know. 

In our part of the world, we’ve seen special events like Couples Night Out and Ladies Night Out which are used to attract potential donors to hear a pitch for sponsorship. These evenings feature special speakers, giveaway prizes, and printing costs for posters and tickets. The cost per sponsor recruited is possibly equally high or higher. 

Still, the idea of the charity paying bookstores such a large incentive to get cashiers to make the appeal is somewhat disturbing, don’t you think?



  1. I could understand a modest reimbursement for handling the application, but this amounts to a finders fee. We know ministries are struggling to maintain support. This deception is, yes, disturbing, disappointing, and detrimental to the entire Christian community. Doing the right thing the wrong way is just unacceptable. They must come clean and pray this doesn’t erode their support.

    Comment by Paul — April 21, 2015 @ 11:36 am

  2. My estimation of World Vision hasn’t been great over the past few years. Their constant barrage of TV infomercials; the kiosks in the malls at Christmas time; their deceptive (in my mind) practice of using your sponsorship money in the child’s community and not just with the child and its family, has certainly left a sour taste in my mouth over the years. Their overheard just seems WAY too high. This latest revelation just seems wrong!
    We support a large number of kids through a ‘competing’ ministry that focuses on Jesus and the child and their family. We couldn’t be more happy with the results we’ve seen; the reports we’ve heard from friends who have traveled with them; and the letters we get from the kids directly and can’t do enough to recommend them.

    Comment by Murray — April 22, 2015 @ 9:09 am

    • Yes, there are many alternatives available that do similar programs. It was misgivings about World Vision in particular that kept me from getting our family involved in child sponsorship for a couple of decades, and I didn’t realize what we were missing out on until my oldest son ‘adopted’ a child three years ago through Compassion International.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 22, 2015 @ 9:14 am

      • I did check with a close contact at Compassion, who is quite high up in the organization here in Canada, and asked “Did you see this? Do you guys do this?” and the response back was a definite “Yikes! No way!!!”. :)

        Comment by Murray — April 23, 2015 @ 9:15 am

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