Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

0 thoughts on “From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends”

  1. As a child I enjoyed corresponding with penpals. Now as an adult, I love writing letters to Juan David and receiving his letters along with his GREAT drawings. We are in the same time zone, so I often pause during the day wondering what he is doing and how his day is going. Everytime we pray, Juan David and his family members are always included. We love sharing his letters with our three granddaughters and feel such a strong bond and love that come with each letter and each photograph with his wonderful smile. We consider ourselves to be very blessed because of our partnership with such a fine young man. May God continue to Bless CFCA.

  2. Thank you, Dan, for an insightful article. Your message came alive for Jon and me during our recent MAT to India. When we visited our sponsored boy Robin and his family in a rural village north of Calcutta, we were welcomed with such affection that we could have been long-lost family members. There was an energy and excitement throughout the village that underscored the commitment CFCA sponsored families have to the program. These parents did not greet us as recipients of material handouts, but as “partners,” as you said, in helping to create a better future for themselves and their children. The families displayed their homes with pride and we, in turn, took pride in being “partners” with such hardworking and resourceful people. We were intrigued by the mothers groups that we saw in action, recognizing them as an important step forward in the CFCA partnership of empowerment.

  3. Thanks Dan. I enjoyed the blog and the idea of partners vs beneficiaries hits home and gives me an added approach for my weekend presentations.

  4. Thank you for such a nice summary of the relationship between sponsors and sponsored friends. As a sponsor, I feel more like the beneficiary when I receive a photo of Arturo (age 8) holding an ear of corn that HE grew and enjoyed eating! I appreciate the opportunity to see into his world and could not do that without CFCA. It warms my heart to hear that Maria’s family received tin sheets so the rain doesn’t come in the roof anymore, and again I feel as if I have received a gift! Marie

  5. Great postI I view the individuals I sponsor as part of my extended family and display their pictures in my home and on my desk at work with my other children. I have been the beneficiary of one of the greatest gifts in the world through sponsorship. Simply the prayers that have been said on both sides have cast us closer to God and the purpose we were created to be. That is the best gift and benefit in the world. As disciples we are to go out and partner and work together taking only what we need. These individuals have opened my eyes and my heart to a level of faith that I can only hope to strive towards. They have saved me from a life of materialism. This is a partnership with benefits on both sides. You are right on with it involving families and not individuals. Again great post.

  6. More than a partner, I have always considered my “Godchild” as part of my family. They keep me informed as to their inrerests, needs, and one even sent me a copy of her grades as if I might be her parent! They express their love, their interest in my family, and MY well being! All this demonstrates that these people in need are indeed “Persons..individuals..and worthy if not only our help, but our concern.

  7. I think this is an excellent way to describe what happens between sponsors and their sponsored families. A human connection is made and especially when one ventures forth on a MAT trip and meets their family where they are.

    If any of you sponsors are considering a MAT trip or an individual visit with your sponsored family, I highly recommend it. I think you will find it a life changing experience!

    I feel that God put us all in the world to do His will. We are made to care for one another. “BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD”

  8. Helo.am a sponsored student,currently in university. I wish to affirm that our sponsors are more than just sponsors since, personally, they have inspired me in many ways. I feel material help alone could not have propelled me to where I am today. Its through our relationship as CFCA partners that I have made it to where I am today. May God bless CFCA community

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