5 tips for encouraging your friends to sponsor a child

From now through September 30, you can enter for a chance to win a trip to Peru with World Vision to see our work firsthand. It's as simple as finding new sponsors for just five children.

But we know very well that asking friends, family, or colleagues to sponsor a child isn't easy. In fact, it can be difficult -- even intimidating. That's why we asked Elizabeth Esther, World Vision Bolivia blogger, for her tips as an experienced writer and child sponsorship advocate. Our Facebook fans had lots of tips to offer, too.

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From Elizabeth Esther:

When I first started asking my readers to sponsor a child, I was apprehensive. I wasn't sure how people would respond.

I feel like sometimes helping the poor can become an abstract idea, a meaningless platitude, an empty obligation. When we detach poverty from its human face, we make poverty an impersonal "issue." It's easy, then, to simply view caring for the poor as an item on our to-do list. We can check off that box, wipe our hands clean, and move on with more important things.

But when I traveled to Bolivia and wrote about what I saw, I realized this is where child sponsorship plays an ingenious role in connecting us to the real lives of other human beings. Child sponsorship is personal, specific, accessible, immediate, and heartfelt. It's a concrete way to make a positive difference in the real lives of precious people.

Elizabeth Esther meets her sponsored child, Adalid, in Bolivia. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision

After days of writing, and days of pouring my heart out to my readers, I began to find ways of asking people to sponsor a child that really helped me speak and connect more authentically.

Here are the helpful tips I've found for encouraging friends to sponsor a child. I hope they help you, too.

1. Make it personal.

People want to know that their efforts make a tangible difference. Sharing your story of child sponsorship is encouraging!

2. Make it specific.

Talk about the ways you've made a personal connection with a child, the letters you've exchanged, the satisfaction you've experienced in sending gifts and seeing their response.

3. Make it accessible.

Becoming a child sponsor is not a complicated process, but sometimes people don't realize how easy it truly is. Demystify the process by understanding your audience: Would your friend prefer calling in? Sponsoring online?

4. Make it immediate.

Nobody likes to be rushed into anything, and most of us will jump at any chance to put off a task. I understand that some folks need a chance to evaluate their budgets. But I've also realized that everyone appreciates a little reminder or follow-up. Don't be afraid to give them multiple chances to say "YES!"

5. Make it heartfelt.

It starts with you. Do YOU believe in child sponsorship? Do you CARE passionately about children? One heartfelt plea is worth a thousand empty platitudes. Speak from your heart. Love will take care of the rest.

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Get more tips from our Facebook fans...

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Get started with our sweepstakes. Use these tips. Find new sponsors for five children. Enter to win.

Now, the question goes back to you: If you were going to ask your friends to sponsor a child, what would you say to them? What tips do you have?

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