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FAQs

Are you looking for more information about our work? See if our Frequently Asked Questions provide the answers you're looking for. If you don't find what you need, we're only a click or a phone call away. Contact us through email or call us at 1-800-556-7918.

What is Plan International USA?

Plan International USA is part of a global organization that works side-by-side with the men, women and children of communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty. Our approach is to develop a plan with the community that promises a brighter future for the community and is ultimately carried out by the community. Community by community, Plan works to promise futures that are worthy of all children’s potential.

Founded over 70 years ago, Plan is a more-than $750 million organization often ranked among the top 10 international NGOs by reputation, size and scope. We work with communities to develop solutions to ensure long-term sustainability. Our level of community engagement, long-term outlook and constant focus on the needs and priorities of children is unique among international development organizations. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities for generations to come and range from clean water and healthcare programs, to education projects and child protection initiatives.

Plan's projects are primarily funded through partnerships with institutions such as the U.S. government and private foundations, as well as via our child sponsorship program. The contributions of Plan International USA’s donors are multiplied many times over through the combined resources of supporters around the world, expanding and deepening the impact of our development programs on children and the communities where they live.

How do our programs work?

Plan works directly with community members to identify, design, implement and evaluate programs that help families break the cycle of poverty. We do not provide direct monetary assistance or hand-outs to families. Instead, contributions from child sponsors and donors are pooled, which means they are multiplied many times in value. For example, a potable water system that costs about $12,000 is made possible through the combined power of child sponsorship, project sponsorship, and other sources of funding.

Projects are designed to help communities develop long-term solutions to real issues affecting their lives. Our approach to meeting the needs of a community is distinctive. Plan’s strategy emphasizes community engagement and ownership as the means to address – in a cost effective, holistic and sustainable manner – the needs of children and families around the world.

For example, a growth monitoring program doesn't just care for babies in the first year of life, but provides for a child's overall health to be monitored from birth through age five. Growth monitoring includes immunizations, weight and growth checks, and education for mothers about proper nutrition and parental care for their children.

How can I make a difference?

Plan offers a number of ways for people to make a difference in the lives of children, their families, and communities in developing countries. One such way is through child sponsorship. For about a dollar a day, you can sponsor a specific child and will receive information about that child, his or her family, and the community in which they live. Learn more about child sponsorship.

Or you can sponsor a particular project, like clean water initiatives, by giving a regular contribution in any amount. Leveraging our long-term community presence, our expertise in eight issue areas enables us to work with a community to address its most pressing challenges through tailored programs and solutions. Our plan is to build capacity and self-sufficiency so we can end the cycle of poverty. For information about projects in need of funding, visit our Make a Donation page.

If you would like to know more about contributing through Plan, contact our Donor Relations staff at 1-800-556-7918 or via our Contact Us page.

Can I sponsor a child?

Yes, child sponsorship is the cornerstone of our work with children and families in 50 developing countries around the world. Sponsoring a child is not a hand-out to a specific child, but is an approach to long-term development that invites a sponsor to build a relationship with an individual child and family while helping an entire community realize its full potential.

Plan believes that when one child is given the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential, communities are changed forever. Your contribution of one dollar a day will go where the community needs it most – to build a school, provide access to clean water or keep them healthy – so their community can break away from the cycle of poverty.

Each sponsor receives the profile and photograph of the child she or he is sponsoring and has the opportunity to get to know that child and his or her family through the exchange of letters, holiday greetings, or even a personal visit. Individual child sponsors make regular donations, which Plan combines with funds from other sponsors, to implement tailored programs in the sponsored child's community.

By sponsoring a child, you can promise a child and his or her community a better future. Learn more about child sponsorship!

Is it possible to visit a sponsored child?

Yes, sponsors have told us many times that meeting their sponsored children was among the most rewarding experience of their lives. We are delighted to help arrange special visits between sponsors and sponsored children. All visits must be approved by and arranged through Plan International USA. For more information, please read our Visit the Field page.

What steps does Plan take to protect sponsored children?

Plan has a child protection policy in place for the express purpose of protecting the privacy and security of the children and families with whom we work. We strongly encourage you, as a child sponsor, to review this child protection policy.

Many sponsors are able to visit their sponsored child’s country and arrange a personal meeting with the child and family. These visits are most often life-changing experiences for both parties. It's through this cross-cultural exchange that deeper understandings are gained and stronger bonds are formed. Plan has protocols in place for such visits, which are documented within our protection policy. During a visit, an adult must be present with the sponsor and child at all times. This is most often a Plan staff person and/or an adult member of the child's family. A sponsor is not permitted to take an unaccompanied child out of his or her community. We trust that you can understand the reason for such a policy.

Our policy is not meant to hinder the personal connection you have with your sponsored child, but to promote a healthy and safe interaction.

Can I contribute to a project?

Yes. Whether it is for clean water programs in Ecuador, AIDS orphans in Uganda, or school repair and construction in India, we link your commitment to help solve the most pressing challenges in communities throughout the developing world. Project sponsors receive updates on achievements they've helped make possible. Project support can be made anytime, in any amount.

Plan also works with corporate partners to identify local projects where collaboration will promise a better future for children and communities in developing countries. Partnering with Plan to fund community-based projects helps us work toward the shared goal of ending the cycle of poverty. Together, we can address the most pressing challenges facing children and their families around the world.

For more information, visit our Ways You Can Help page or contact our Donor Relations Executives.

What types of projects are implemented?

Plan's work with children and communities around the world is based around eight core areas: education, protection, economic security, health, sexual health (including HIV), emergencies, water and sanitation, and child participation.

Some of the specific projects Plan helps to implement include vaccination and immunization programs; comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs; training of health workers; provision of safe, clean water; classroom construction; scholarships and school fees; vocational training; agricultural programs; and school construction and repair, among other projects. Projects vary from country to country, and community to community, depending on their identified needs.

Each sponsored family has the opportunity to participate in the design and implementation of the projects underway in their respective communities. Children are also active participants in their own community's development. This approach is known as Child-Centered Community Development.

We listen to children’s opinions and concerns, understanding that they are key to making communities healthier and more resilient. Plan works to empower them and customize sustainable community solutions that promise a better future for their families.

How will I know my contributions make an impact?

Plan International USA keeps sponsors and donors informed of the progress being made in their sponsored children's communities through Annual Progress Reports, updated photos, and Program Reports. In addition, those sponsoring children are encouraged to correspond with their sponsored child to exchange information and obtain the latest updates on their progress. Our Donor Relations Executives can help answer questions or concerns regarding your contributions. We are accountable to you.

How is Plan different from other organizations?

Founded in 1937, Plan’s strategy and program approach emphasizes community engagement and ownership as the means to end the cycle of poverty. Plan is committed to long-term development programs to help children and families achieve their full potential. Except in emergency situations, Plan does not provide direct assistance. Instead, we help communities develop, grow, and support themselves. Our level of community engagement, long-term outlook and constant focus on the needs and priorities of children is unique among international development organizations.

In addition, we believe in the positive impact that a sponsorship relationship can have on both a sponsored child and his or her sponsor. We provide the opportunity and encourage sponsors and children to write to each other to share and exchange information.

How much of each contribution is used for program work?

Plan International USA is proud to have earned a four-star rating with Charity Navigator and to have met the standards of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, among other notable achievements.   

Through careful management and avid planning, 78% of Plan's total expenses were spent on program-related activities for fiscal year 2012. Your contributions help build communities to a point where they can sustain themselves without Plan's assistance.

For more information, please visit our financial page. To obtain a copy of our most recent financial report, please contact us at DonorRelations@planusa.org or call us toll free at 1-800-556-7918.

What is the Children's Fund?

The Children's Fund was created in 1938 by the founders of Plan during the civil war in Spain. It was called the "Milk Fund" then – used for what was most essential for orphans of war in the early days of our organization. Today, the Children’s Fund supplies lifesaving interventions to children wherever the need is the greatest. Whether it be vaccines to protect them against disease, or schools where they can learn and grow, the Children’s Fund provides what is needed most to help children and their families realize their full potential.

What is the history of Plan?

In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, British war correspondent John Langdon-Davies found a small child wandering alone through the ravaged streets of Santander. In the child's pocket was a note that read: "This is Jose. I am his father. When Santander falls I shall be shot. Whoever finds my son, I beg of him to take care of him for my sake."

Deeply affected by the plea, Langdon-Davies took the child by the hand and took the first steps to establishing what is now Plan.

Langdon-Davies conceived the idea of a personal relationship between an orphaned child and an English sponsor. He and refugee worker Eric Muggeridge, horrified at the number of sick and starving children they encountered, began an operation to provide food, accommodation, and education for some of the thousands of children orphaned by the war.

From these beginnings, Plan has grown from an organization focused on children affected by war to one of top 10 international development organizations in the world, with more than $750 million in revenue supporting over 28 million children throughout the world.

Community by community, Plan works to promise futures that are worthy of all children’s potential.