Saturday, June 14, 2014

Advocacy Part 3 - Sponsor Development

We've been talking a bit about advocacy and what it looks like. If you missed them, here are the links to Part 1 (Education and Awareness) and Part 2 (Presenting Compassion Programs).

And now on to Part 3....

This is the part of advocacy that most excites me. In fact, this is the reason this blog exists. I love to encourage and inspire sponsors in their sponsorship journey.

After attending several advocate gatherings (usually held annually in a fairly central location), I realized the importance of gathering with like-minded people and receiving information that would encourage me in my journey as an advocate. I began to think that this would likely benefit sponsors as well.

It's great being able to read articles and blog posts, but nothing beats meeting face to face and having personal interactions. I knew I wanted sponsor development to be a part of our Compassion Sunday presentation this year, so we held an event in the evening for all sponsors. We didn't want to limit  it to just sponsors, so the invitation was open to everyone and we had several non-sponsors attend.

We shared a meal together and then heard from our friend, Alex Mutagubya. Alex grew up in Uganda and was sponsored through Compassion as a young child. After completing school, Alex went to university and was part of Compassion's LDP program. He then came to Oregon to get his masters in divinity at Multnomah Bible Seminary. This is how I met him. In fact, he was the first formerly sponsored child I ever met and hearing his story made a big impact on my life. He has returned to Uganda where he pastors a church in Kampala. His church is located just minutes from Compassion's country office, and several of his church members work for Compassion Uganda. He is supported by a church here in Oregon, so he returns every year to raise support and speak at area churches. We were thrilled that he took the time to share his sponsorship experience with our church family.

We also played several games (chopstick races, identify the 26 countries where Compassion works and identify the  African countries where Compassion works). Then we had a time where I shared more about how Compassion works and the importance of letter writing.

Anytime you can encourage sponsors in their sponsorship journey, you are investing in them. Invite some sponsors to meet together for a letter writing party. In October invite sponsors to gather and write out Christmas cards for unsponsored children. Ask fellow sponsors if they have heard from their sponsored child lately. Provide fun stationary and coloring pages for your friends to send to their sponsored children. Give your family and friends correspondence kits for birthday or Christmas gifts. Celebrate "sponsorship birthdays".

Even if it's just one fellow sponsor - invest in them and encourage them.

What other ideas do you have for encouraging and developing sponsors?

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