As a child sponsor, you may have noticed some changes in the letters from your child and our communications about them over the past several months. The primary change has been that we no longer use full names.

We’re living in the Information Age, and we all know that information can be used for good or to harm.

The internet, social media, computers, mobile devices — all this technology has enhanced our lives. More and more people across all countries are on the street using smartphones. This increased connection creates new opportunities for people in poverty to gain knowledge and steady employment. Many young people in the sponsorship programmes are learning computer skills to help them compete for high-paying jobs someday.

But as we all know, the Information Age has also created new risks. People who seek to exploit and abuse will always find ways to do so—and technology is one of those ways. Such people could use children’s full names to identify and find them.

So, Compassion and Tearfund are making ever-greater efforts to protect children’s names and locations — and, therefore, their privacy and safety.

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Sponsored children at a Compassion Centre writing letters. 

A Shift to Preferred Names


Instead of seeing children’s full names—their first and last names and anything in between—sponsors and the public now will see the name each child goes by in everyday life.

These names are not made up or “assigned” by Compassion. They are the preferred names given to us by the children, or by their parents if the children are too young to say.

It’s the name they’re called by their friends, their family and those who know them best.

In most cases, your sponsored child’s preferred name will be the same as their first name or an easily recognisable nickname.


And the same is true for you.

In the same way, we also have a duty of care to protect your privacy and information, which is why we have also brought in “preferred names” for you as a sponsor at the same time.

If you want to check or amend what we have for you, as your preferred name, please contact us to ensure we have that right for you.


What does it mean?

Please continue to engage with your sponsored child through letters! As you sign your letters, please use your chosen “preferred name” instead of your full name. For example, you may prefer to be called Mr and Mrs Smith. Or, you may prefer to be called Jane and John. However, we ask that you do not include your full name: Jane and John Smith.

Please don’t try to find your sponsored child online. Please use our letter-writing channel to communicate with your child. That helps protect both you and them. Please don’t respond to requests for connections of “friend requests” if a beneficiary or their family finds you online. Please let us know if this happens, and we will work with the sponsored child and their family to understand our communication guidelines. Please share your interests with your sponsored child through your letters, but remember, we cannot send through anything that contains an Instagram handle or social media name, YouTube channel, or web address.

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Please use our letter-writing channel to communicate with your child.


Child protection begins with prevention


We know that child protection begins with prevention and as we are always working on improving our child protection policies, we have put new safeguarding practices in place which will affect all communications between you, your sponsored child, staff and volunteers who all work together to provide a safe environment for children.

Tragically, ways to harm children continue to evolve, including the use of technology and social media. The availability of the internet in the areas where we work has also grown exponentially in the last few years and we have to be constantly vigilant in protecting children.

Data privacy is becoming a real concern to many and therefore we are taking a global approach. We believe that all children are precious to God and our goal is that all children are known, loved and protected through their local church.

Please know that these changes are to protect everyone in our care and we will continue to educate and train frontline church staff, Compassion and Tearfund staff, and children, on ways to prevent harm. Click here to see our Child Protection Policy.

Thank you for supporting the local, front-line Church to develop children fully so that once they graduate from the programme, they can ‘give back’ to their communities. You are an essential part of a team that is striving to see a lasting impact in families and communities for this generation and the ones to follow.

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