World Vision began with the vision of Reverend Bob Pierce, who came across an orphaned child on a trip to China. At this time, the Reverend Pierce agreed to send $5 each month to the caretaker of the orphaned girl to help with her expenses.
After this point, Reverend Pierce began building the idea of his organization, which was dedicated to helping children around the world.
In 1950, World Vision became a reality, and the first sponsorship of a child began three years later in response to the needs of children left orphaned at the end of the Korean War.
Since this time, World Vision has grown by leaps and bounds and its work has spread throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In addition to its child sponsorship program, World Vision began to focus in other areas such as emergency relief and community needs.
Today, World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization primarily dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. The organization is guided by its Christian values and has deep ties with the Church.
World Vision is comprised of numerous national entities throughout the world, grouped in what is informally referred to as the World Vision “partnership.” World Vision International (WVI) was established in 1977 as the international body that provides global coordination for the partnership.
Today, almost 80% of World Vision’s funding comes from private sources, including individuals, corporations, and foundations. The remaining funding is from governments and multilateral agencies.
World Vision’s programs are funded, for the most part, through its child sponsorship program in which an individual family or church is matched with a specific child or community project around the world. Through the program, the donor pledges to donate a certain amount each month.
World Vision’s programs fall into three main categories as described below.
Development – World Vision provides local communities with a range of interventions including education, health, economic development, micro finance, agriculture, and water, and sanitation programs. By ensuring that community members work together and are part of positive change from the onset, World Vision ensures that programs and processes will continue even after the development staff has left the area.
An example of a development program is World Vision Pakistan’s Manzil Drop-In Centre, which was set up to help children who live and work in the streets in Rawalpindi. On October 10, 2010, the children from this center joined a global initiative to educate communities on the effects of climate change, what people need to do to mitigate its effects, and to offer some simple, sustainable solutions.
Relief – World Vision also works to prepare resources and staff in places at risk of disaster or in high-risk zones. The goal of the organization is to build capacity among communities to help them be better prepared before an emergency and to rebuild afterward.
World Vision makes $6 million available each year in response to urgent disasters and larger funding can be mobilized if the situation warrants a large scale emergency response. According to the World Vision website, thanks in part to generous donors, World Vision was able to devote $728.8 million to 52 major disaster mitigation, preparedness and response efforts, plus a number of smaller relief projects in fiscal year 2009 which helped 11,643,253 people.
Advocacy – World Vision is also a pioneering advocate around the world for children living in poverty and facing unfair and unjust practices, including working in dangerous conditions, early marriage, trafficking, and lack of education. World Vision aims to empower local communities to know how to speak up for their rights at local, national, and international levels and in some cases lobbies for those who do not have a voice.
Finally, World Vision also publishes materials on the following topics to raise awareness and educate the public: Children’s Rights, Education, Peacebuilding, and HIV/AIDS. There are several ways to get involved with the work carried out by World Vision depending on your home country. In the United States, you can:
- Sponsor a child by choosing the child’s gender and country
- Give to various projects in which World Vision is involved
- Make a purchase for a community through the World Vision gift catalog
World Vision, together with its micro finance subsidiary VisionFund International, is today a leading humanitarian organization employing approximately 40,000 staff members (including part-time and temporary staff and employees of micro-finance institutions) and implementing programs of community development, emergency relief and promotion of justice in nearly 100 countries.
Published or updated April 4, 2013.