An Australia-first survey to gauge public attitudes on child sponsorship has revealed surprising insights into the motivations of people who sponsor and common misconceptions among those who don’t. 

The Plan International Australia and IPSOS survey of 1000 Australian adults – It Takes a Village: Australians’ Views on Child Sponsorship – has been released for the United Nation’s World Charity Day (September 5). It showed two in 10 Australians are current or past child sponsors. People aged 35-45 were most likely to currently sponsor, but Millennials and Gen Y’s were far more likely to say they want to sponsor a child.  

Data from Pareto Benchmarking shows Australians’ donated at least $200 million to child sponsorship to the top five charities in 2016, showing it is still one of the most favourite ways to support charity. 

The majority of the 1000 people Plan International Australia were in support of helping children to thrive, regardless of where they live or their circumstances. Three-quarters of those surveyed (71%) agreed that children in all corners of the world deserve our help wherever they live. 

When Plan International Australia asked current sponsors, almost all (87%) agree sponsorship makes a lasting difference to a child and their community and is a great way for them to make a positive contribution to the world. 

Parents listed teaching their kids about the world as their number one reason for sponsoring, with 85% agreeing or strongly agreeing that this was why they sponsor.

Non-sponsors were affected by a range of misconceptions attached to sponsorship. More than half (54%) were concerned sponsorship was aligned with a particular religious agenda (in Plan’s case it is not). 

And 35% mistakenly believed funds went to a single child. Others were worried the sponsor child would be left to fend for themselves if they had to cancel (which is not how modern sponsorship works). 

Plan International Australia’s CEO Ian Wishart said he was happy to see sponsorship was still a very meaningful experience for so many Australians, but also felt compelled to respond to some of the more common myths around it. 

“This survey really gives us the first public sense check about their perceptions and importantly, an opportunity to challenge some of the negative things we do hear from time to time,” Mr Wishart said. 

“The classic view of sponsorship is that it’s a way to preach religion and a very traditional and perhaps outdated model, but I’m here to tell you this is not the case in 2017 – sponsorship, particularly in Plan’s case, has evolved to a model that respects difference and supports whole communities. 

“The 40,000 Australians who sponsor with Plan International Australia are very diverse, from all cultures and at all stages of life, but they do have one thing in common: an understanding that sponsorship is a proven way to help children out of disadvantage.

“I’ve seen how communities have changed over time thanks to sponsor contributions. How children can stay in school, have access to fresh water and wholesome food, better buildings and safer neighbourhoods. Sponsorship is arguably one of the most effective ways to help communities in the developing world and a hugely rewarding experience for those who sponsor too.”

Sponsor a child with Plan: https://my.plan.org.au/become-a-child-sponsor or call 13 75 26

Plan International Australia survey of 1000 Australians: key findings
  • Two out of ten Australians have sponsored a child at some point in their lives. 
  • Three-quarters (77%) have never sponsored a child but of those, 14% said they were interested in sponsoring a child.
  • The younger age groups (between 18 and 34) were far more likely than the older age groups to express desire for sponsorship. For example, only one in 20 (4%) of those over 65 said they wanted to sponsor, compared to one in three (27%) in the 25 to 34-year-old age group.
  • More than half of the Australians surveyed (51%) agreed the world would be a better place if everyone sponsored a child.
  • The majority of respondents agreed that sponsorship is a good way for children to learn about the developing world (62%) and only one in 10 disagreed (11%). 

Current or past sponsors say: 
  • The vast majority of sponsors (86%) agree or strongly agree that sponsorship is a way to make a positive contribution in the world.
  • Overwhelmingly, sponsors (87%) believe their sponsorship makes a lasting difference to the child and that it benefits the entire community (82%). 
  • Young people are the most likely to want to sponsor. Almost one in three (27%) in the 25-35 year old age group said they are interested in sponsoring a child.
  • For parents, the number one reason for sponsoring is to teach their children about the world (85% agree).

Non sponsors say: 
  • The number one reason people do not sponsor is because it is not a good time for them financially (70% of non-sponsors agree), and two-thirds are more concerned with issues in Australia (63%). 
  • Half (51%) of all non-sponsors list not wanting to get involved with agencies that have a religious agenda as a reason not to sponsor, even though many (like Plan) don’t. 
  • Many non-sponsors are not sure how sponsorship works and there are a few key common misconceptions, such as a belief the money does not make it to the child’s community.

Available for interview:
• Ian Wishart, Plan International Australia CEO, and sponsor of two children
• Child sponsors in Melbourne and Sydney. 
• Pre-packaged interviews with children and Plan’s sponsors are available for media use