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.
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.
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?