Inflate Someone Else’s Lifestyle Instead of Your Own

Meeting my sponsored child.

Meeting my sponsored child.

Did you know almost half the world’s population lives on less than $2.50/day?

A huge portion of the world lives in abject poverty. For example, recent droughts in India have increased prostitution, child labor, and the incidence of child brides because people simply don’t have enough resources to provide for their children. Many Dalits “don’t exist” on paper and thus do not have reliable access to government assistance.

Did you know that for $1/day, you can change the life of a child in poverty? For many people in developed nations, $1/day is an amount you’d barely even miss. That can’t even buy you a coffee. It’s about one Chipotle burrito per week. Whatever $1 means in your budget, if you can spare it, I encourage you to consider adding a real worth investment to your portfolio.

Why not inflate someone else’s lifestyle instead of your own? After all, $1 per day can’t inflate your lifestyle noticeably. Investing $1 per day isn’t going significantly alter your retirement plans. But it could radically alter the trajectory of someone else’s life, while also inflating your usefulness.

It could be the difference between infanticide and life. Between starvation and nutrition. Between ignorance and education. Between being sold as a child bride or prostitute, and having a wholesome childhood. Between a family being broken up or staying whole. Between untapped potential and opportunity.

There are so many great charitable causes out there, but child sponsorship is something near to my heart because children are often innocent victims of forces much greater than themselves. They have not chosen their way into bad circumstances. They are completely powerless to improve their situation.

Yes, some organizations take donations that do not actually benefit the children they claim to help. Corruption and fraud exist and that means donors have to exercise caution. That’s why we started our research with personal recommendations from friends who have visited the organizations we donate to, and eventually visited one of our sponsored children.

Let’s cover some common questions and concerns.

Does this conflict with parents from providing for their children?

The organizations we give to practice holistic efforts to help entire communities. Therefore, the parents often have access to vocational training, education, employment opportunities, and micro loans. While we can’t vouch for every possible scenario, the efforts of the organizations we’ve chosen to support include helping parents as well.

Also, many children who benefit from sponsorship are orphans. And since the quality and reach of orphan care varies quite a bit across countries, we are happy to help “orphans and widows” which James 1:27 describes as “true religion.”

How do you know the money is going to benefit the children?

During our international mission trips, Neil and I separately witnessed the huge gulf between sponsored children and street kids. Our sponsored children live in very simple but safe homes. They attend school rather than begging or trying to sell things on the street. They receive sufficient food and clothing, as well as an education. They often receive help with career training, higher education, and even marriage if they do not have a family to help with this.

We personally met the “house parents,” school teachers, program directors, and even the president of one organization we sponsor a child through. I also was able to meet our child’s mother, who spent almost our whole time together saying “very thank you.” It was incredibly humbling; you can read more about it here.


There are many good organizations that do child sponsorship and poverty relief, but I can’t vouch for them personally as I can for India Gospel League. I’ve personally seen the work of IGL and find the organization to be highly efficient, effective, and holistic. Friends of mine visited Compassion International’s work in one country (Ethiopia) and found their ministry to be worth supporting. I’ve also heard great things about World Relief.

Would you consider inflating someone else’s lifestyle through child sponsorship? This cause hits even closer to home now that I have children of my own. I can’t imagine being in a position where I couldn’t provide for them; it’s too heart-breaking to even think about. Yet many parents across the world find themselves in this situation, often due to forces outside their control.

Please don’t let fear of corruption hold you back from helping the needy. Do a little research. Check out a charity rating website like Charity Navigator. Ask friends if they could recommend an organization, or even volunteer with or visit a group to learn more. If you prefer to help domestically, go for it! Or if you want to help adults, consider supporting a microloan program, vocational education, or refugee needs.

Inflating some else’s lifestyle is a real worth investment that will have a solid return, and it’s very rewarding to know you can change someone’s life, even if you may never meet the person. It truly is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Any questions or recommendations? Have you ever sponsored a child or microloan?

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45 Responses to “Inflate Someone Else’s Lifestyle Instead of Your Own”

  1. DC YAM says :

    I love the concept behind the title of your post! My wife and I used to sponsor a child at an orphanage that we visited on a mission trip, but he’s now all grown up : ) We now support a missionary friend who is reaching others overseas and donate to World Vision on a weekly basis.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s awesome, DC! I think having that personal connection goes a long way, though it’s not necessary. I’ve also heard good thing about World Vision, though I know less about it than the ones I mentioned.

  2. Tonya says :

    I just signed up with an organization called families to families, so I’m sponsoring a family in New Orleans to help get them meals. I can also, if I want, send some non-food items as well. It’s a simplified explanation, but it took me a long time to find an organization that resonated with me and it feels good!

    • Kalie says :

      I’m so glad you found an organization to give to! I know you’ve wanted to, and I admire that you stuck with it to find one. It is rewarding to know you are helping someone out in a meaningful way.

  3. Amanda says :

    “Please don’t let fear of corruption hold you back from helping the needy.” I think this holds so many people back from donating time and money. We help in various ways at a local homeless shelter – it’s been great to see my kids excitement and passion about helping out. The feeling of giving is indescribable.

    Thank you for the information – it’s great to get feedback from someone who has had personal experience with these organizations.

    • Kalie says :

      So cool that you’re helping out in your community and getting your kids involved, too! I’m definitely hoping to get our family participating together in some type of local service, once the kids are a little older and able to be helpful.

      I agree that it helps so much to hear from people who have seen an organization’s work firsthand.

  4. MrFireStation says :

    Great post and call to action!

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks! I love that you also write about charitable giving and worked an extra year to be more generous!

  5. Harmony says :

    Thank you for the reminder. I want to sponsor a child, but considered it a goal for the future, after we fix our own finances. You’re right though, it’s really not that much money. Maybe we can accomplish this goal sooner rather than later.

    • Kalie says :

      It’s a hard balance to strike, between getting our money in order and beginning to help others. I hope you find the right time for your family. This type of commitment is very impactful for a relatively small amount, which is nice!

  6. Josh says :

    We sponsor two Compassion children and also give to a couple other international charities where we know people for have worked abroad for the charity and can vouch that the donations are wisely used.

    As you mentioned, I recommend Charity Navigator for ratings too.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s wonderful to hear that you are already involved in this type of giving! Compassion was our first introduction into child sponsorship after hearing from our friends who visited their ministry. I agree that seeing firsthand or hearing the testimonies of trusted friends goes a long way toward instilling confidence that your money is used wisely.

  7. Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds says :

    I love this, the title is very inspiring in itself! Charities are so important.

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks Francesca! I’m so glad charities exist to organize work that individuals might not be able to.

  8. FinanceSuperhero says :

    Katie, it is refreshing to come across a personal finance blogger who is not simply obsessed with building wealth. Giving is arguably the most important component of my financial plan because it leads me to treat money as just another tool.

    • Kalie says :

      How cool that you think of giving as the most important part of your finance plan! I agree that it helps us keep money in perspective and remember what it’s really for.

  9. It Pays Dividends says :

    This is a great idea. I have to admit that we don’t do nearly enough when it comes to helping others. We have always talked about it but have never taken action. This may be the time to start doing more for others. Great post!

    • Kalie says :

      Go for it! I know it can feel overwhelming to choose what to support and make sure it is a trustworthy organization, but it’s worth a little time to make an impact. 🙂

  10. Catherine Alford says :

    This is the best use of the term “lifestyle inflation” that I’ve ever read. GREAT post!

  11. Dividendsdownunder says :

    Hey Kalie, amen your message in this post. I really love the giving aspect and taking care of the unfortunate.

    Not only charity is good, but there’s also a service (the name escapes me, it’s kind of like P2P lending) where you can give loans to people in poorer countries to start off their business. It has a huge success rate. I just googled it – Kiva. You should look into that 🙂


    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for the recommendation, Tristan. The organization we sponsor a kid through also uses micro loans to help people start businesses, and when they pay back the loan, it funds another person’s micro loan. So it’s like you can set of a chain reaction. It’s great that more groups are using these types of loans; it’s definitely more effective than perpetual handouts.

  12. Holly says :

    What a sweet post. I love this! And yes, I would love to sponsor a child. We frequently sponsor a few families for Christmas, but it’s not quite the same thing since America’s “poor” aren’t living in abject poverty at all.

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks, Holly. That’s wonderful that you sponsor American families at Christmas. Another cool thing about helping internationally is that the American dollar can go really far in certain countries. It’s almost like your donation has twice the effect!

  13. Abigail says :

    Beautiful! I know I usually leave in-depth comments but just… beautiful!

  14. Prudence Debtfree says :

    The “charity is corrupt” argument against giving can be overcome by doing the research and asking the right people the right questions – as you have done. It is incredible to realize that giving so little can make such a huge impact.

    • Kalie says :

      I think it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to gauging whether a charity is trustworthy. Just because some aren’t doesn’t mean helping the poor is impossible. It is truly humbling that such a small “sacrifice” that we’d barely even miss can completely change some else’s life.

  15. Alicia Whitcher Warren says :

    Have been reading your blog for several months, but this is my first comment. I have sponsored 4 children since 2008 with World Vision. Two boys in Lebanon and two girls in Ethiopia. I have loved getting to know them through their letters, although I don’t feel I write frequently enough. As a sponsor you are truly sponsoring the village WV is working with. They make a plan with the village at the beginning of their partnership with the village. Once those goals are met and the village can sustain themselves the partnership ends. Very much a “teach a man /woman to fish” model. I would suggest Rich Stearns book “A Hole in Our Gospel” and Wes Stafford’s Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matter” to learn more about WV and Compassion International. These men are the CEOs of these organizations. Also if someone feels they can’t sponsor monthly I know the one time donations are helpful. Once my husband was laid off while in the middle of his cancer treatments. I called WV because I couldn’t figure out how I would cover the cost of my sponsorships. I was told not to worry because they had a special fund to cover until I could continue my contributions. I was so grateful to those donors. My sister sponsors a child with Compassion International and has been pleased with their relationship. Bless you for this post.

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for reading and for your informative comment! I agree that one-time donations are also very helpful and provide a need that would not otherwise be met. Thanks for explaining the work of World Vision. We also sponsor a child through Compassion and though I haven’t personally visited the organization, my friends have and I hear they do great work. Thank you for the book suggestions, too!

  16. Visionary Money says :

    I don’t think you can truly discover who you are until you give of yourself to someone else. Our capacity to become fully depends upon our kindness and charity to others. We don’t fully achieve our true potential without lifting others up along the way. Want to make a difference in your life? Then change someone else’s life as well. So glad my parents taught me about charity early on and how it should be a regular part of your life forever. My wife and I lived in southern South America for several years and you will suddenly realize that you are not poor, not even close to poor and have an obligation to use your amazing situation to help others. Be better and watch yourself become more than you ever thought.

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that giving unveils a new layer of our humanity, and that it’s so important to recognize how incredibly blessed and wealthy we are compared to many.

  17. MyMoneyDesign says :

    So true. A lot of people forget just how little the rest of the world lives on. I’m reminded of this every time I travel outside the US. We tend to really take for granted all we have, and what a difference we could make if we applied ourselves.

    • Kalie says :

      I agree. Traveling is a great way to experience and remember this, and a great reminder to be grateful for what we have.

  18. Dr wise money says :

    100% agreed
    I do this too
    Find it much more rewarding than inflating my own lifestyle
    Thx for sharing

    • Kalie says :

      It’s great to hear you sponsor children, too. And that you also find it more rewarding than the alternative!

  19. Su S says :

    Do you know of any sponsoring groups that are not religious? I do not believe in forcing my religion on others but would like to support some families. Great post. It’s important to be reminded of these things!

    • Kalie says :

      Great question, Su! I have heard of groups like Children International and Fund International. However, I purposely refrained from recommending these in the article because I have not researched them and would really hate to suggest an organization that would not handle others’ money well. I would recommend searching with keywords secular or non-religious child sponsorship on the web site Charity Navigator, which provides detailed ratings. I hope this helps you find a great organization, and I’d love to hear back from you if you can recommend one!

      I completely understand why you’d prefer a non-religious organization. But I have to add that not all faith-based groups “force religion” on others. There are some great charities doing respectful, culture-honoring work. That said, I do hope you can find the right child sponsorship organization for you!

  20. Millennial Moola says :

    I did microloans with women in the West Bank when I was 20. Lived in Ramallah and helped local women get access to credit to buy things to provide some economic self sufficiency. Still one of the coolest things I’ve ever done

    • Kalie says :

      That’s so cool! Thanks for sharing your experience. One neat thing about many microloan programs is that once the loan is repaid, the money goes toward a new microloan for a different person. It’s such a good cycle to get started.

  21. Dividend Diplomats says :

    Love the post! It serves as a great reminder and motivator to help others in need out versus focusing solely on yourself. I help out a lot with time and donations to a local non-profit and it is amazing to see the non-profit work towards making their residents lives better. The majority of non-profits are not corrupt and there are plenty of great local organizations doing the right thing and helping those in need. I agree, don’t let that false perception fool you and prevent you from helping others out!


    • Kalie says :

      Thanks for sharing your experience with your local non-profit, Bert. It’s unfortunate that many people don’t get the help they need because a few corrupt organizations raise so much skepticism. I think local groups where you can also volunteer and see where the contributions go are a great option.

  22. tim says :

    Thanx for the kick up the Khyber Pass Kali. Just donated 5% of my income to Against Malaria Foundation and the Schistosomiasis Control initiative. Endorsed by Give Well and The Life You Can Save.

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