Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sponsor Gatherings

This post has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks now, but after reading Jessica's post, I’m inspired to tackle this topic today.

Most of us who visit blogs are plugged in to an online community of Compassion International sponsors. We glean ideas and inspiration from other bloggers, Compassion’s Facebook and Twitter pages, Our Compassion and other sources. We read the stories of how Compassion helps children and how important our letters are. We can easily find answers to our questions about sponsorships. But, there are many, many Compassion sponsors who do not have this support system.

That is where we can step in and reach out to sponsors.

This is the harsh reality. Out of the sponsors who go a year without writing to their sponsored child, 65% of them end up cancelling their sponsorships. If you have ever dealt with abandonment as a child, you know how deeply these vulnerable children can be hurt by learning that their sponsor no longer wants to be a part of their life.

Engagement is key. If we can keep sponsors engaged in the ministry, we can help to solidify the bonds between them and their children.

Sponsor gatherings are one fantastic way to inspire and encourage those who partner with Compassion International. Whether you are an official Compassion Advocate or not, you can plan and host an event like this and I would LOVE to help you!

First, sit down and make a list of any people you know of in your area that are involved with this ministry. Maybe you only know two or three sponsors. You can still plan a get together!

You could hold a gathering at your home or your church. Some local libraries have meeting rooms that are available as well. Plan a date and time and then call or contact those who are on your invite list. You could plan a one time event or something that happens on a monthly or quarterly basis!

You will want to plan a few activities for your gathering. Here are some ideas for you!

  • Show a promotional video or two! If you are a Compassion Advocate, you were probably given a compilation DVD with several great clips. If not, you can go to Compassion's Youtube page where they have 162 clips to choose from! One that is particularly moving is when Jimmy Wambua meets his sponsor at the Catalyst conference. (Have tissues on hand!)
  • Encourage letter writing by printing off some Compassion stationary and bringing pre-addresses envelopes. Print off the story called The Delivery, written by my friend Caitlin S., which can be found to the right. (You are free to share ANY content found on my blog! 101 Letter Writing Ideas may be good to share!) The information about sending small gifts is also good to print out and share. Make sure to stress the importance of these letters to all of the sponsors in attendance!
  • If you have any card-making or stamping supplies on hand, you can all make a personalized craft to send to your children. A handmade card or bookmark would surely be treasured!
  • You could have a question and answer session. If you don’t feel like you know enough about Compassion, contact me and I would be happy to call in and be on speaker phone for that portion of your gathering. I don’t know everything there is to know about Compassion, but I can answer most of the commonly asked questions!
  • If you will have children at your gathering, you could share a fantastic book called A Country Far Away by Nigel Gray. Jill from Compassion Family also shares many great children’s books that depict life around the world.
  • If you have access to a digital camera, offer to to take photos of the sponsors to send to their children. Have them printed for your attendees. Photos are often cherished by the sponsored children.
  • Have a prayer circle. Prayer is such an important aspect of this ministry! Remember to pray for the families, project staff, translators and Compassion employees around the world!
  • If you plan to have monthly gatherings, you could feature a different Compassion assisted country each time. With a bit of preparation, you could bring a food from that country, play music from the region, share books about the culture and even ask Compassion to send you a child packet or two from the country!

Hopefully, those ideas will get you started! I do plan to come back to this topic in the future and share more possibilities!

Have you ever had a sponsor gathering? What did you do? Please share in the comments! If you have a blog post on the subject, please share the link! I would love to add it to this blog!

Are you considering hosting an event like this? If you need help, please leave a comment and we will brainstorm with you!

Remember, keeping sponsors engaged will lead to the retention of those sponsorships and a stronger bond between both parties! Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts! (My new comment feature allows *anyone* to leave a comment, so give it a try! If the comment link isn't showing up for you on this post, click the post title and you should be able to comment without issue!)

~Michelle