For Existing Sponsors

Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your sponsorship!


Gift-giving ideas and guidelines

Here are some ways you can give gifts that benefit the children in COTN's care. Each item listed below is a top-priority need for the children. (Note: Items will be distributed wherever the need is greatest, and cannot be designated for a specific child.)

  • You can also choose books from our wish lists, to be sent to your child's country and benefit all the children there. (Note: purchases are not tax-deductible.) This is a great way to send meaningful and useful gifts. Just visit the wish list for your child's country (Dominican RepublicHaitiMalawiSierra LeoneUganda) and choose the option to have your books shipped to the Gift Registry Address (Children of the Nations, 11992 NW Clear Creek Road, Silverdale WA 98383). It is important to only shop in one country list at a time, for shipping purposes.

    And make sure you use your Amazon Smile account, so a portion of your purchase can be donated to COTN!

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Writing to your sponsored child

Thank you for taking the time to write to your sponsored child! Your letters remind your child that you love and care for them.

When writing, you can use your own stationery or right-click and download one of our letter templates (downloading is preferable to opening the template in your web browser):

Letter Template for Africa (Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda)
Letter Template for the Dominican Republic and Haiti
Letter Template for University/Vocational students


Follow your letter to your child with this fun illustration!
Follow your letter to your child with this fun illustration!

General Guidelines for Writing

Children of the Nations has established specific letter-writing guidelines to protect our children and allow for building relationships between sponsors and children. All mail is screened at our USA office. This includes reading all letters— both coming from and going to children—and documenting all items that are sent. Please follow these simple guidelines to help make the most of writing to your sponsored child. (Note: If you send items that do not adhere to our policies, those items will be donated to our warehouse and distributed to the country where there is a need for them.
Please double-envelope your letter if mailing to our office. Address the inner, unsealed envelope with your child’s name and reference number on the center of the envelope and your first and last name on the upper left corner. Address the outer envelope with the COTN address, P.O. Box 3970, Silverdale WA 98383.

All mail is sent to and from our countries with staff and Venture teams. Therefore, the mail only goes when staff or teams go, which may be once every one to three months, depending on the time of year. We suggest writing every one to two months, as it may take several months for you to receive a response. Please do not wait for a response before you write again.

If you are writing to a child in the Dominican Republic or Haiti, please leave room in your letter for translation.

Mailed items you may include with your letter are limited to photos and a single sheet of stickers. Only one envelope per month, please.

Things to include in your letters:

  • Write plainly, clearly, and decorate your letters with stickers, stamps, and other fun things.
  • Write about things that your sponsored child will understand, such as family, pets, work, church, hobbies, tastes in food, music, and activities. Encourage your child’s learning and relationship with the Lord. Include Bible verses and remind your child that God loves them and that you are praying for them and their family.  
  • Send photos of yourself and your family. Dress standards may be different in your child’s country, so please send pictures where everyone is dressed modestly.
  • Send photos of places you visit. This will be educational for your child. 
  • You may also send a single sheet of stickers. 

Things to avoid in your letters:

  • Politics or governmental issues. In many of the countries where we serve, families have very strong views regarding politics. Mentioning these issues often leads to anger or resentment—the opposite of the hope and love COTN’s ministry focuses on bringing to the children we serve.
  • Discussing money and possessions, as these things may cause your child to feel jealous or ashamed, or become fixated on material things. Share positive achievements in a way your child can relate to.
  • Asking your child if there is anything they need or desire. Your sponsorship meets their needs and they are taught not to ask for things. We will communicate any needs with you, should they arise.
  • Your address, email, phone number, Facebook page, or contact information of any kind.
  • Sending money or items other than photos and a single sheet of stickers. COTN can accept these items as general donations, but not for individual children.
More Letter-Writing Tips:


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FAQs for Sponsors

1. What specific benefits does my sponsored child receive?

Your donation will help meet the physical, educational, social, and spiritual needs of your child. Your donation will go into our sponsorship fund and your child will receive the benefits of their program through your contribution. Every child in our program is assigned multiple sponsors to meet all of their needs.

$32 a month: Village Partnership (Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Dominican Republic, and Haiti). Your monthly gift will help a child living with parents or caregivers who cannot adequately provide for them. Needs vary by village and family, but typically include some combination of: educational assistance, extra food, medical care, Christian mentorship, clean water programs, resource distributions, and more.
$43 a month: Family-Style Children’s Home (Sierra Leone, Malawi, and Uganda). Your monthly gift will help an orphaned child living in one of our Children’s Homes. Housing, food, medical care, schooling, clothing, and spiritual discipleship for your child are all included.
$50 a month: University/Vocational Program (Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Dominican Republic). Some of the benefits your student will receive are: tuition, room, board, transportation, books, and materials, depending on their individual needs.

2. May I send gifts to my sponsored child?

You may send photos and a single sheet of stickers with your letters to our USA office. We will also identify special Christmas and summer camp projects each year, for you to give toward. You may also give toward items within the COTN Gift Catalog, which will benefit your child and many other children. (Note: Gift catalog items will be distributed wherever the need is greatest, and cannot be designated for a specific child.) See above for more gift-giving ideas.

3. Why do we have rules for gift giving?

While we appreciate the intent behind gifts, direct gift-giving can cause several problems for your child. These include: (1) undermining the authority of parents and in-country staff; (2) breeding dependence and materialism; (3) taking the place of more urgent needs; (4) misuse or misinterpretation of the items and their meaning; (5) causing jealousy among other children.

4. How can I learn more about my sponsored child?

You can learn more through writing letters, visiting your child on a Venture trip, and reading our blog and other resources on our website, or listening to our podcast. You will also receive regular updates about our programs through emails and newsletters.

5. How long should my sponsorship last?

You may sponsor your child through high school, the University/Vocational Program, or trade school, depending on the child. Our desire is to see these children grown and actively contributing to their society. (For some, this might be 18 years old, others older.) If we determine your child no longer needs support, or if your child moves out of the area we serve, within 30 days we will send you a profile of a new child for you to consider sponsoring; your sponsorship will automatically transfer to this child unless we hear from you.

See the full list of sponsorship FAQs here.

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Meeting your sponsored child

Visiting your child can be an exciting and encouraging experience for both you and your sponsored child. You can join an existing “Visit Your Child” trip or set up a trip of your own by visiting our Venture trips page.

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Some other ways you can stay involved and help the children:

Shop on and designate part of each purchase to Children of the Nations.

Clip your Box Tops for Education and mail them to COTN, to help purchase school supplies for the children.

Check out the top-priority resource needs, including the item of the month.


Further Reading

You can learn more about the cultures of Africa and the Caribbean, and how to properly engage with your sponsored child, by reading some of the following books. Enjoy!

Foreign to Familiar
Sarah A. Lanier
This book is all about understanding the differences between cold-climate cultures (like the US and Europe) and hot-climate cultures (like Africa and the Caribbean).

The Big Truck that Went By
Jonathan M. Katz
This book details the world's response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and how in many ways the relief efforts resulted in more harm than good.

When Helping Hurts
Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
This book shows how sometimes the best intentions can go wrong when we intervene in other cultures, and provides solutions for doing international missions right.


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