Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound's Kansas City headquarters.
May 22 2017

From digital fields to real friends

Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound's Kansas City headquarters.

Melissa Armitage takes a break from processing child profiles at her desk at Unbound’s Kansas City headquarters.

By Melissa Armitage, campaign fulfillment manager

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you’re sitting at a desk, carefully reading over a document. You check it for grammar, style and clarity. Now, think of doing that for 30,000 documents every year.

Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?

That’s a glimpse of the process Unbound’s Child Services Department undertakes every day to share the stories of families awaiting sponsorship.

Unbound’s program staff members around the world work hard to review for accuracy and prepare records for families in need of sponsorship. Every day, the Child Services Department helps process that information so it can be shared with sponsors.

Effie’s record is one example. Her information arrived at Unbound’s Kansas City headquarters in January. Here are the four steps it took for her information to be turned into the story a sponsor would see in Effie’s profile.

1. Assigning a child ID
The first step in preparing Effie’s record is to assign her a child identification (or CH) number. This number helps both Unbound headquarters and local staff keep track of Effie and her family’s information. We use her basic information such as name, birth date, gender and what international program she is a part of to assign her this ID number.

2. Reviewing the photo
Not only does the Unbound program staff take a photo for each sponsored member every year, they also take photos of the children, youth and elders just entering Unbound’s program. In 2016, our department reviewed and verified more than 350,000 photos. That’s a lot of pictures! Each photo must be reviewed for quality (not too blurry), age and appearance. We ask ourselves, “Does the photo for Effie look like an 8-year-old girl from Kenya? Is she portrayed in a dignified manner?” If the answers are yes, the photo is accepted. Otherwise, we ask the program staff to send us a new photo or the corrected information about the child if a mistake has been made.

3. Entering and formatting the record information
Once we’ve determined that the photo and information are correct, the next step is to record the rest of Effie’s information. This is more than just typing it in on a computer. Each record must be entered with specific formatting, correct grammar and accurate spelling. This allows Unbound’s database to generate Effie’s story in paragraph form, in an easy-to-read format for sponsors.

For example, one field on the family record asks to describe the child’s personality. For Effie, the response from the local staff was, “A humble and disciplined girl who likes sharing.” We enter something a little different: “Effie is a humble and disciplined girl who likes sharing.” As you see, the essence of the response was kept the same, but was changed to become a complete sentence. We are careful to keep the essence of the information the same, because transparency is one of Unbound’s core values. We also need to make sure that the information is clear and understandable.

4. Reviewing the record
Unbound strives to provide the best and most accurate information possible. This is why every record entered is also reviewed by a second person. This reviewer not only double-checks grammar, spelling and formatting, but also checks that each sentence makes sense for the paragraph it falls in, decides whether a sentence should be made clearer, and tries their best to keep local and cultural phrases intact.

After each of these steps, Effie’s record is ready to be used either on or to travel with one of our volunteers or priests who share about Unbound on our behalf. This process also happens anytime we receive updated information for children, youth and elders who have lost their sponsors, so we can continue to provide the most accurate information about sponsored friends.

So, the next time you read your sponsored friend’s story, remember there’s a dedicated team ensuring that what you receive is in its best possible form for you to read.

Check out stories of kids like Effie on our website.

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