Frequently Asked Questions
Communication & Gifts
Costs & Payment
Q: What role does prayer play in sponsorship?
A: We believe that the most powerful gift you can give to your sponsored child or staff is your prayer support. Many of the children in our care have experienced significant abuse and trauma. We believe that prayers for your child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual healing and development are critical to your child’s future success. If you are sponsoring a staff member, please pray for blessing and adequate financial provision for their family, strength to endure the overwhelming challenges of caring for traumatized children, and greater depth of relationship with Christ.
Communication & Gifts
Q: How will I receive letters from and updates about my child or staff member?
A: Throughout the year you will receive 3-4 mailings from or about your sponsored child or staff member. Your sponsee’s mailings will be housed on your sponsee’s webpage which you can access by going to handsofloveusa.org > Login > User Login > My Children. Each time a new mailing is posted, you will receive an email notification with a link to the correspondence on your sponsee's page. This email will come from firstname.lastname@example.org so please make sure this email is on your safe list! If you are not receiving your mailings, please contact us immediately.
Q: How often should I write letters to my child or staff?
A: We encourage you to write your child or staff at least once or twice a year. The parental love and encouragement that you include in your letters to your child are a huge encouragement. And, the love and encouragement that you include in letters to your staff member strengthens them to continue in their extraordinarily difficult work.
Q: Is there anything I should not include in my letters to my child or staff?
A: We encourage you to include family updates, pictures of your family, spiritual guidance/encouragement, and fun items like stickers in the letters you send to your children or staff.
Because your sponsee comes from abject poverty and because we care deeply about the spiritual and emotional welfare of our child and staff, we ask that you not include pictures or other materials depicting activities that:
- Might be considered inappropriate in another culture (immodest clothing, luxury items)
- Promote lifestyle choices that we view as unhealthy and inconsistent with a Biblically based lifestyle (alcohol, tobacco use)
- May cause harm to the children or staff in any way
- Advocate religious beliefs or world views other than Christianity
Q: Where should I send letters for my child or staff?
A: Because of the prohibitively expensive cost of shipping to Uganda, Hands of Love USA only sends letter-sized envelopes from sponsors to the children or staff. Please limit the envelopes that you send to cards, paper and flat objects like stickers. Hands of Love will send your letter and all other sponsor letters received to Uganda once a month. Please send all letters to:
Hands of Love USA 9305 Mackinac Dr. Alpharetta, GA 30022
Q: May I send a gift to my child?
A: Absolutely! Hands of Love USA encourages sponsors to give an additional gift preferenced to their child on their child’s birthday and at Christmas. Because of the high cost of shipping and the possibility of items being lost or stolen, we offer sponsors the option of purchasing gifts for their children through our Ugandan staff. We suggest a monetary amount of $25-$50 per child, which our Ugandan staff will use to purchase the gifts locally. Once your gift is received, the Ugandan staff members who care for your child will use your gift to purchase a gift that your child needs and desires. This might include a new outfit or pair of shoes, a pack for school, books, or a toy. You will receive a picture of your child receiving the gift by email. Please allow at least two months to receive the pictures.
To send your child a gift, simply make a credit card donation on our Gifts for Sponsored Kids/Staff page.
Due to the rapid growth of our sponsorship program, we are no longer able to honor specific gift requests, unless the gift is sent to cover a predetermined medical or educational need.
Q: May I send a gift to my staff member?
A: Gifts designated for specific employees are not tax-deductible per the IRS. However, you may increase your monthly donation on a one time basis whenever you wish. At Hands of Love's discretion, the ministry will then honor your staff preference with respect to your entire donation. You may continue to send letters for your employee through the Hands of Love USA office. For more information please contact Nora Charlesworth at email@example.com or 404.354.4606.
Q: What is Hands of Love USA's policy about Hands of Love children on Facebook?
A: It has come to our attention that several sponsors have been contacted via Facebook by their sponsored children (or people pretending to be HOL children). In one instance, we discovered that a Hands of Love child was offered money by a member of the community in exchange for his Facebook identity, in an attempt to take advantage of this child’s sponsor. While we believe that most children reach out with innocent intentions, the risks of such communication far outweigh the rewards.
Therefore, to protect our beloved children, staff and sponsors and to maintain the integrity of our ministry, we have prayerfully created a communication policy:
Hands of Love Communication Policy
Under no circumstances are Hands of Love children or staff (other than staff in the communication department) allowed to have any direct unsupervised communication with their sponsors. This includes letters not sent through the ministry, Facebook, texts, phone calls and emails. We have found that when such communications occur, they often result in inappropriate asks, which damages the relationship and the ministry.
Under no circumstances are Hands of Love children allowed to be on Facebook.
As a sponsor, please do not connect to your child or staff member via Facebook or any other media and notify us immediately if you receive such a request. If you are already connected, please prayerfully consider disconnecting for the good of the ministry and your child or staff member. You can receive regular ministry updates by liking our Hands of Love USA Facebook page.
If you receive an email or any other communication from a person at Hands of Love asking you to wire or mail money directly to Uganda, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to verify the request’s legitimacy. We have had several instances of staffs’ emails being hacked and false email addresses being created.
Costs & Payment
Q: What percentage of my monthly pledge is used for administrative expenses?
A: 10% of all donations received by Hands of Love USA (aside from missionary flight costs on which there is no administrative fee) are put toward our administrative fund. To date, we have kept our administration expenses at 12% of total revenue while the industry standard is 15%. Because only 10% of our donations go toward administration, we fundraise to cover the remaining 2%.
Q: What account number should I use for checks toward my sponsorship/scholarship?
A: Please use 'Sponsorship' or 'Scholarship' on your checks instead of the name of the child or staff you are sponsoring. If the IRS sees an individual's name on the check they can argue that the donation is not tax deductible because it is for the benefit of an individual instead of the organization.
Q: Will my staff support go specifically to the employee in the position I am sponsoring?
A: To meet the IRS’s standards of exercising ‘discretion and control’ over donated funds (instead of acting as a pass-through organization for gifts) and to ensure that staff support donations remain tax-deductible, all staff support gifts must be ‘preferenced’ toward a staff position instead of ‘earmarked’ for that position. This means that contributions are solicited with the understanding that Hands of Love USA has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds. Hands of Love USA has honored all preferenced gifts in the past and will continue to attempt to honor gifts preferenced to support particular staff positions. However, the final decision on the use of all funds rests with the organization.
Q: Will I receive payment reminders if I fall behind on my payments?
A: You will receive payment reminders via email at 30 days past due and via email and snail mail at 60 days past due. If we have not heard from you at 90 days past due, we will send you notification that we are pairing your sponsored child or staff member with another sponsor.
Q: As my sponsored child gets older will the cost of his or her sponsorship increase?
A: Once a child reaches middle (called secondary) school, the cost to care for him or her increases to $110/month (an increase of $65/month). These increased costs are due primarily to text books, school fees and standardized test fees. When a child graduates into secondary school, the child's Basic Needs Sponsor will be given the first opportunity to meet their child’s increased education needs. If the Basic Needs Sponsor does not cover these expenses, we will search for a $65/month Secondary Education Scholarship partner to supplement the child's Basic Needs
Sponsorship through the child's high school graduation.
Q: Are my donations toward my sponsored child or staff member tax-deductible?
A: For the IRS to qualify child and staff sponsorship gifts as tax-deductible, the gifts must be preferenced toward a particular child or staff position instead of earmarked for that child or staff position. This means that these contributions are solicited with the understanding that Hands of Love USA has complete discretion and control over the funds. Hands of Love USA will continue to attempt to honor gifts preferenced to support particular people and positions. However, the final decision on the use of all funds rests with the organization.
Q: Who should I contact to discontinue my sponsorship/scholarship?
A: Please contact Vera Dwyer at email@example.com or 770.757.6802.
Q: If I discontinue my sponsorship/scholarship, what happens to my child?
A: If you are no longer able to sponsor your child, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can begin the process of trying to find a new sponsor.
Q: Why would my child choose vocational school over graduating from high school?
A: Because of Uganda's extremely limited job market for high school and university graduates, the Ugandan government is encouraging children to consider vocational school instead of continuing with middle or high school. By entering vocational school the child can learn a trade then build a business around that trade, eventually becoming an employer and strengthening Uganda's job market.
Our children work closely with Hands of Love career counselors who help them integrate their grades, dreams and proclivities into a career path that is both fulfilling and realistic. If a child chooses vocational school, the child will leave their current grade and take a vocational course ranging from 6 months to 3 years depending on the course. Popular courses include driving, hair dressing, mechanics, counseling and business administration. After graduation from vocational school, the child is fully equipped to pursue employment and graduates from Hands of Love.
The cost of vocational school is equivalent to the cost of middle and high school($65/month/child).
Q: What happens if my child leaves the orphanage?
A: Occasionally a child will be reunited with a distant relative or decide to leave the orphanage. While we strongly discourage children from choosing to leave (it is often the older children who run away because they don't want to live under the rules of the orphanage), we have no legal grounds to force them to stay. If you sponsor one of these children, you will be notified as quickly as possible and given the option to discontinue your sponsorship or choose to sponsor another child. In that email notification you will receive the picture and profile of a child who is similar to the child who left. Your sponsorship will automatically be transferred to this new child unless you notify us that you would like to discontinue your sponsorship or choose a different child.