Beware the child charity scam

I note that the Telegraph in Australia has once again highlighted the ongoing scam whereby certain charities invite you to ‘adopt’ a child in a Third World country for a certain sum of money per month.  You’re promised regular letters from ‘your’ child, reports on his or her progress, that sort of thing.  Unfortunately, many such charities are lying to you.

World Vision sends us a drawing from the boy every Christmas. Sadly, there is never any sign of improvement. In fact, lately he seems to be regressing.

He’s now 17 years old. The above image is his most recent illustration.

There’s more at the link.  The article also links to another report from 2008, where a correspondent met the child he’d been sponsoring, only to find that most of the progress reported by the charity had not occurred at all.

Friends, if you want to donate to people and needs in the Third World, that’s admirable, and as one who’s lived there for many years, I thank you for your generosity.  However, please be very, very careful where you send your money.  The number of scam and rip-off charities out there is incalculable.

Two that I recommend unreservedly and without hesitation (because I’ve seen their work in the field, and worked with and alongside their people for many years) are Médecins Sans Frontières (a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders) and The Salvation Army.  With both organizations, you can be sure your money will be well used, and won’t be wasted on excessive administrative overhead or inflated salaries for senior officials (the latter being one reason why I won’t support the Red Cross at all).  Some object to the faith-based approach of The Salvation Army.  I don’t think that takes anything away from their very good work, but YMMV – in which case, MSF (a secular, non-partisan organization) is an excellent alternative.



  1. I used to give to Compassion International. A friend of mine traveled to India and Rwanda (before the Christians were slaughtered) and met the children he supported. Compassion made a point to help people visit there children if they wanted to.

    Only reason I quite was because it became too depressing. My wife and I always support Asian girls. When they were old enough they dropped out of the programs. I believe a lot of them were sent to work in the sex trades.

  2. Even though I am an atheist, about the only charity I give money to is the Salvation Army. I also donate clothes, etc. to various organizations (Purple Heart and such), but I only trust Salvation Army with cash.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *