“SOS Children – a charity where deeds speak louder than words” The Dalai Lama
Choosing a charity
When the Dalai Lama said that we were “a charity where deeds speak louder than words” doubtless he knew there are lots of ways to choose a particular charity (for example through which to sponsor a child). Some people choose charities based on the charity’s presence giving opinions on the news, the charity’s TV or newspaper adverts or the mail the charity sends. These people aren’t wrong, but we are not that kind of charity; we build families not headlines. We get on with giving the least fortunate of children a chance of a proper family life. People find us and it is by our deeds that we think they should judge us.
Partly, our approach is needed dealing with orphans: orphans require longer term help and generally local government has at least legal responsibility for them. We have to co-operate, not condemn, and this method has allowed us to continue to do critical work in places like Zimbabwe where others have had to leave. There is no point being outspoken and thrown out when children depend on you being there. And of course the upside of not having a lot of “words” is that we do well when you compare charity costs. Most of our supporters come to us online or by word of mouth, and because donors tend to find us we do not have to pay a lot to find donors.
A significant part of our income derives from child sponsorship. In general we tend to use other donations and contributions to set up new projects and pay for building Children’s Villages, building centres to run programmes for Aids Orphans as well as admin costs etc, but we reserve child sponsorship contributions to pay for the running costs of our programmes.
When people in the UK sponsor a child we use 100% of the sponsorship contribution for the care of children. There is a local pooled budget from which the sponsored child is fed, housed, educated, gets medical care and from which the child’s SOS mother, who lives with them, is paid. Although we maintain separate bank accounts for specific gifts made to children for birthdays etc the pooled budget is used for other children as well: so we do not need to ask a donor for extra money if your child needs dental work or whatever, all the children are helped according to need from the budget.
We think our concept of child sponsorship is amongst the most direct around, although some other smaller child sponsorship charities do directly support all their sponsored children considerably most of the larger ones have a less direct approach, see our child sponsorship comparison.
What we do best: giving children a family for life
For nearly sixty years, SOS Children has developed an approach based on building a community for children who have nobody to turn to. Traditionally, we provide children with a home, a family and a new mother in a purpose-built local Village, where they can stay until they are ready for independent life. We currently run 545 of these unique SOS Children’s Villages, and 392 Youth Homes, caring directly for more than 62,000 children in 125 countries worldwide.
Investing in local communities
However, we don’t just provide care for children in our Villages, but play an important role in supporting the development and sustainability of their local communities. We invest in the futures of thousands of children in the community, making sure they have the tools they need to become independent young adults.
We do this by building and running 415 Nurseries and Schools which provide 132,422 children with a quality education. These are open to children in our care and to those from the wider community. We also run 103 SOS Vocational and Staff Training Centres which provide new skills and practical training to 26,254 young people and adults, giving them a route to long-term success.
In areas where medical support is scarce or non-existent, we build SOS Medical Centres which provide communities with immediate medical treatment and preventative and palliative care. We currently run 72 SOS Medical Centres providing treatments and counselling to 455,607 patients.
We also offer skills, training, education, counselling, micro-loans and improved nutrition to vulnerable families so they are able to provide for their children and stay together through difficult times.
And in times of conflict, famine or disaster, we are quick to provide emergency assistance. SOS Children played a pivotal role in helping Pakistan earthquake victims (SOS Children was named as the official custodian of all unaccompanied children by Kashmir authorities) and continues its work in ongoing conflict zones in countries such as Zimbabwe, the DR of Congo and Somalia.
Meet with us, talk with us
We would love to hear from you! We are happy to talk to anyone about our work or about ways in which you might be able to help. If you are around Cambridge you are welcome to drop in.
Contact us at:
SOS Children UK
Terrington House 13-15 Hills Road Cambridge CB2 1NL
Tel: 01223 365589
Registered charity number: 1069204
Our Chief Executive is Andrew Cates
Our Trustees are Mary Cockcroft (Chairman), Michael Riding, Michael Brewer, Graham Budd, Matthew de Villiers, Ayesha Khan, Earl of St Andrews, Jeremy Sandbrook.
SOS Children is a charity which puts a child together with a mother. Remember a charity like SOS when you are thinking of giving to a good cause.