OSI Sponsor FAQ

Welcome to the FAQ and general information page for OSI sponsors.  Here you will find detailed answers to common questions asked by OSI sponsors.  Of course you are always free to contact us with any other specific questions that you may have.

General

  • OSI and Child Protection - The security and protection of our children is of utmost importance and legal necessity.  To this end we are established as legal entities at our program sites, and only our trained liaisons are permitted direct interaction with the children.  Thus all communication (email, postal mail, and sponsor visits) with the children is via the site liaison or OSI staff.  While exercising this necessary obligation, we also go to great lengths to make this system as transparent as possible, so that the child and sponsor can still enjoy a virtually direct relationship, which is actually augmented by the encouragement and involvement of the liaison.
  • OSI and Child Privacy - OSI is as open as possible with the information it provides to sponsors regarding their sponsored child.  Information, photos, and child correspondence are provided with the assumption that they are for the private knowledge of the sponsor, or to be shared very prudently.  The child knows only of their sponsor, and assumes a private relationship with them.  Out of respect for the child and the relationship, sharing of the child's information with others via email, internet, or otherwise, should be done with the same considerations one might give to sharing their own child's photos, communications, or personal information.
  • OSI and Religion - For every child, we believe in fostering their belief in the greatest power in their lives, which is themselves.  Our mission of encouraging the child's sense of individuality does not allow us to foster any other ideology in our children.  Our goal of enforcing the child's sense of identity does not allow us to try to alter it.  On the contrary, we hope to give them the tools and the confidence to explore and make such discoveries and decisions for themselves.  Finally, we highly respect the existing diversity in our children's cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, and are proud to have the same diversity amongst our staff and sponsors as well.
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Financial

  • When is my Financial Record updated? - Your OSI Financial Record, including your deposits and our expenditure of your funds, is updated at least monthly.  While your funds are utilized throughout the month, expenditures are compiled after month-end, and will usually appear on your Financial Record within a week thereafter.
  • When should I send my funds? - OSI is intentionally informal, and thus there is no monthly "bill" or reminder regarding your sponsorship payment, nor is there a monthly due-date for when funds must be received.  Funds may be sent monthly, yearly, or in whatever inconsistent increments are most convenient for the sponsor!  Sponsors can keep track of their funds in their OSI Financial Record.
    At the top of your Financial Record, you will see your monthly "budget," which is the monthly amount pledged, and upon which we budget to serve the needs of your sponsored child.  If a sponsor falls behind in funding, we simply send a reminder by email, as we understand that it is easy for the sponsor to lose track, and yet it is also important for us to be able to serve the child's needs.
    In cases where a sponsor is temporarily unable to send funds, we are very understanding!  Sponsorship is more than just financial, so we are eager to maintain the sponsorship even if the sponsor needs a short financial break.  We only ask to be informed so that we can determine an alternate method of funding the child's needs temporarily.  If a sponsor is permanently unable to send funds, please see below, What if I am unable to continue my sponsorship?
  • Why is my PayPal deposit less than what I actually sent? - PayPal automatically deducts it's fees from the payment amount, so that the amount received by OSI is less than the amount sent by the sponsor/donor.  The deposit amount posted on your Financial Record is the full amount OSI has received from PayPal (OSI does NOT deduct any fees or "admin" expenses from child sponsor funds!).  PayPal's fees also change on occasion, so you may note occasional increases or decreases in the amount received by OSI.
  • Why is my monthly budget sometimes exceeded, and sometimes under-spent? - Your monthly budget is the average of what is necessary to provide for your sponsored child's needs.  Your monthly budget will often be under-spent to save for months when there are greater needs, during which months your budget will be over-spent (for example, at the beginning of the school year when supplies, books, and uniforms might be needed all at once).  Over the course of a year, average monthly expenditure will be very near your monthly budgeted amount.
  • Are my contributions tax-deductible? - OSI is a USA-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity.  As such, contributions from the US sponsors are tax-deductible.  Outside of the US, tax deduction depends on the laws of each particular country, though many European and other countries indeed provide a tax deduction for US-registered charities.  (See below regarding receipts)
  • Will I receive a receipt for my contributions? - After the end of each calendar year, printable receipts for the entire year's contributions are emailed to every OSI sponsor worldwide.  These may be filed with your tax returns, if necessary, or kept for your records.  These are also archived in your personal online OSI Financial Record under the year for which they apply.  Of course you can always simply email us for a copy of your receipt.
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Correspondence

  • Are children obligated to write? - As our focus is on the child's happiness and welfare, it is not obligatory for them to correspond, though we strongly encourage them to do so and give them every means!  In most cases, our children are pleased to communicate, and this in fact can have the greatest impact on their sense of individuality, which is the core of our mission.
  • How often may I write to my child? - Quite simply, both sponsor and child are encouraged to write to each other as frequently as they wish.  Every sponsor-child relationship is unique, as both sponsors and children have varying interest and need for communication.  As a guideline, sponsors may let the child dictate the frequency of correspondence, readily replying to the child's letters as an encouragement to the child to write more.  The sponsor can also encourage the child to write by asking questions that serve as material for the child to reply to (sometimes children simply don't know what to write).
  • How long should my letters be? - As with the frequency of correspondence (see previous), the best gauge for this is the child's own letters.  The child who is sharing a lot is inviting the same, and sponsors are encouraged to respond accordingly!
  • Are letters "edited" before delivery to the child? - While in most cases letters are provided to the child exactly as written by the sponsor, there are a few exceptions:  If the liaison is certain that the child will not grasp what is written, content might be simplified to what the child can comprehend.  Political and religious pursuasion is not permitted, though certainly sharing of one's religious traditions and discussion of current events is valuable, and encourages the child to share the same.  Finally, any content that may be accidentally sensitive to the child's personal experience or history (or culture) may be edited.  Besides this sensitivity to the child, this last exception allows the sponsor, not wholly familiar with the child's background or culture, to be at ease with what they write, without concern that they might unintentionally offend.  More general information on the above may be found in the General section above.
    Again, most letters are provided to the child wholly as written by the sponsor, and the sponsor is informed in cases where substantial editing is required.  And finally, sponsors themselves can help by composing letters in a way that is easily grasped by a child.
  • Can I send postal mail and gifts to my child? - While postal mail and gifts are not prohibited, they are strongly discouraged.  Gifts, besides logistical issues like customs clearance, creates the sense of inequality amongst the children, for as much as we focus on them as individuals, they are very aware of each other.  It is difficult for us to be discreet with providing physical gifts, and while the thought is valuable for the child, the issues created are inevitable and usually detrimental.  This is less our 'policy,' and more our experience.  As for simple postal mail, the negative impact is less but still present, and at the same time technology makes it virtually (literally) unecessary.  In the past we encouraged sponsors to mail photos, but we are now able to provide emailed photos to the child, either digitally or printed.  (We do still strongly encourage you to email photos with your letters, as the children are always greatly interested in seeing into your faces, families, and lives!)
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Other

  • Can I visit my sponsored child? - Certainly!  It's an incredible experience for both the child and their long-distance sponsor to be able to meet each other at last.  We are happy to assist a visiting sponsor as best as we can and can advise on local arrangements, accommodation, and transportation.  It is necessary for the OSI liaison or staff to be present during sponsor visits with the child (see OSI and Child Protection above) and visits are arranged around the schedule of the liaison and the child's home.
  • Is it possible that my child may leave the program? - OSI focuses on children who are most likely to be with us long-term.  However, we can never be certain in every case, and it does occasionally occur that a child leaves our program prematurely, due to family changes, migration, or other unpredictable circumstances.  In such cases, we hope that the sponsor will consider sponsoring another child who is waiting.
  • What if I am unable to continue my sponsorship? - While sponsorship is ideally a long-term relationship, we understand that things can change unexpectedly.  We never want a sponsor in changed circumstances to feel burdened.  If for any reason you cannot continue your sponsorship, please simply let us know so we can find other means to accommodate the child's needs.  In cases of financial difficulty, if you have established a good communicative relationship with your child, we are happy to continue maintaining this for you! -while assigning a second sponsor to serve the child's financial needs.  Please do not be afraid to let us know in any case, so that we can accommodate both your and the child's needs!
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