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How We Work

When our work began in 1950, our approach was basic. We provided food and shelter for children in orphanages through child sponsorship. Over the years we've learned the complexity of finding long-term, meaningful solutions to poverty.

We work in the most difficult contexts, in some of the poorest countries. But we believe in children. And when we partner with children and families, we can help them transform their communities.

Watch this fun, animated video to learn about our community development approach - how we partner with children and families to help them break the cycle of poverty.

How World Vision Works video

How is community development different? How does World Vision work in the field? This fun, animated video shows how we partner with children and families to help them break the cycle of poverty to bring fullness of life for all children.

Our Work Is...

child focused - smiling childChildren live in families, in communities, in countries. We work on every level to achieve our goal of child well being – from international activism to checking in on children face-to-face. 

  • Children are the focus of our work, and are important participants.
  • We invite children to tell us about the problems they see in their communities.
  • We help improve systems and structures to make their world a better, safer place to live.

Our local staff members begin working in a community by asking a lot of questions - finding out what COMMUNITY BASED - group of children and parents wavingproblems the community and especially the children see. 

  • Together, we come up with a plan, decide on ways to evaluate and measure success, and get to work.

  • The community is involved, empowered, trained, and takes ownership in the programs and progress. 

  • Every 3-5 years we look at the original plan to assess and evaluate our success. If we're not meeting our goals - we make adjustments, and then keep working.  We call this our LEAP framework (Learning through Evaluation and Planning).

Some organizations focus in on just one issue. Not us. integrated and connected - photo of girl holding baby chicksWhen we address the root causes of poverty and injustice in a community, we design integrated programs that address every piece of the puzzle. 

  • For example: if children are not attending school we need to find out why. It could be because they have to walk a long ways to get water, or they don't have money for uniforms, or they don't have food to eat and can't concentrate, or they might not have supplies, or they might have to work because their parents can't earn enough to support their family.

  • Addressing the root causes of a problem leads to a better, more sustainable solution. 

  • sponsorship centered - photo of smiling girl, holding photo of her sponsorWe are unique because while sponsorship is the foundation of our work, it is not the only thing we do. 

  • Sponsorship gives us a long-term relationship with children and sponsors, and a long-term funding base that we leverage to secure grants, corporate gifts, resources from local governments, one-time donations, and more.

  • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts - just sponsorship, just corporate gifts, just grants, or just one-time donations alone couldn't achieve the level of transformation we see in the communities where we work.

long term, children and mother walk down a roadSome organizations come in for a couple years and then leave when the funding runs out. Not us. Addressing the root causes of poverty requires a marathon, not a sprint.

  • We not only empower the community, but we also serve as a catalyst for change, bringing together local churches, businesses, governments, community-based organization, and other international organizations.
  • When we work together we can draw on each other's strengths, and make our work more sustainable.
  • Our goal is that this network we’ve created will continue to look out for the well-being of children even after we’ve moved on to begin work in another community.

Inspired by Jesus' example- woman and baby walking out of small churchWe love the way Jesus cared for the poor and oppressed, the way he showed us how to listen to children, and how to look out for widow and orphans.

  • As a Christian organization, we serve all people, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or creed.
  • Our hope is to reflect the unconditional and transformative love of Jesus in culturally appropriate ways.

Effective Development - arrow going up over bar graphMeasuring the progress of our development work toward community change is essential.

  • We design each program to measure specific indicators to track our progress toward child well-being.
  • We measure where things are the start by carrying out a baseline survey.
  • We look at how each community is doing in relation to other communities and the rest of the country.
  • We monitor progress along the way.
  • After 3-5 years, we re-measure those indicators to compare with the baseline.
  • All of the information we’ve gathered can help the community reprogram, make better decisions, and even change course if necessary.
  • All along the way, we share our results with the community and community stakeholders so that they can be aware of what change is being reported, and validate it. The community also provides us with context through qualitative interviews and focus group discussions.

Read more about World Vision Development Programs


El Salvador

In this community in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, parents were concerned that their children were struggling in school. Many were either repeating grades or dropping out.

So we trained parents and volunteers to run a community preschool that prepares kids for school. Now, the children start school strong — and stay strong.


In this community in Rutegama, Burundi, children were malnourished. World Vision formed a nutrition club for moms to train them on nutrition, improved gardening techniques, and animal husbandry.

Now, moms know what foods provide balanced nutrition and have the knowledge and resources to grow them. Children are better nourished, and families even earn extra income from the animals!



And in this community in Panchbibi, Bangladesh, moms were struggling to provide for their families. They had no way to earn an income.

So we provided sewing machines and taught the moms how to use them. Then, we provided training on how to start a business. Now, moms can earn enough income to provide for their children and send them to school!