Charity Review

  • Issued: January 2013
  • Expires: January 2015

Children International

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards


2000 East Red Bridge Road, Post Office Box 219055
Kansas City, MO 64121
Accredited Charity


2000 East Red Bridge Road, Post Office Box 219055
Kansas City, MO 64121
Accredited Charity

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards

Standards For Charity Accountability


  1. Board Oversight

    Oversight of Operations and Staff: Standard 1

    Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Board Size

    Number of Board Members: Standard 2

    Soliciting organizations shall have a board of directors with a minimum of five voting members.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Board Meetings

    Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings: Standard 3

    An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Board Compensation

    Compensated Board Members: Standard 4

    Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Conflict of Interest

    Conflict of Interest: Standard 5

    No transaction(s) in which any board or staff members have material conflicting interests with the charity resulting from any relationship or business affiliation. Factors that will be considered when concluding whether or not a related party transaction constitutes a conflict of interest and if such a conflict is material, include, but are not limited to: any arm's length procedures established by the charity; the size of the transaction relative to like expenses of the charity; whether the interested party participated in the board vote on the transaction; if competitive bids were sought and whether the transaction is one-time, recurring or ongoing.

    The organization meets this standard.

Measuring Effectiveness

  1. Effectiveness Policy

    Board Policy on Effectiveness: Standard 6

    Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Effectiveness Report

    Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness: Standard 7

    Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

    The organization meets this standard.


  1. Program Expenses

    Program Service Expense Ratio: Standard 8

    Spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Fund Raising Expenses

    Fund Raising Expense Ratio: Standard 9

    Spending should be no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. Related contributions include donations, legacies, and other gifts received as a result of fund raising efforts.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Accumulating Funds

    Ending Net Assets: Standard 10

    Avoid accumulating funds that could be used for current program activities. To meet this standard, the charity's unrestricted net assets available for use should not be more than three times the size of the past year's expenses or three times the size of the current year's budget, whichever is higher.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Audit Report

    Financial Statements: Standard 11

    Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Detailed Expense Breakdown

    Detailed Functional Breakdown of Expenses: Standard 12

    Include in the financial statements a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities. If the charity has more than one major program category, the schedule should provide a breakdown for each category.

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Accurate Expense Reporting

    Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements: Standard 13

    Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  7. Budget Plan

    Budget: Standard 14

    Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

    The organization meets this standard.

Fund Raising & Info

  1. Truthful Materials

    Misleading Appeals: Standard 15

    Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Annual Report

    Annual Report: Standard 16

    Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Website Disclosures

    Web Site Disclosures: Standard 17

    Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Donor Privacy

    Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy: Standard 18

    Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Cause Marketing Disclosures

    Cause Related Marketing: Standard 19

    Clearly disclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation: (a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold), (b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of October), (c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Complaints

    Complaints: Standard 20

    Respond promptly to and act on complaints brought to its attention by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and/or local Better Business Bureaus about fund raising practices, privacy policy violations and/or other issues.

    The organization meets this standard.


Children International meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Child Sponsorship

According to CI, once a child is assigned to a sponsor, a current photo and a family record is mailed to the sponsor. CI's field projects collect, verify and maintain information on sponsored children in Family Records. These records, updated annually, are submitted to the Kansas City Headquarters and contain vital statistics about the child being sponsored, the child's family members and the construction of the child's home. Additionally, CI Field Projects file quarterly reports that summarize benefits the children receive using documents such as health records, nutritional status reports and signed benefit registers.

CI reports that the funds collected are used to provide goods and services for sponsored children and their families. The need for these goods and services are jointly evaluated by the Kansas City headquarters staff and field staff. Every year each Field Project develops a work plan that outlines program activities and services and material benefits that will be provided to the children over the course of the year.

To ensure efficiency and accountability, regional program staff and program officers from CI conduct annual on-site evaluations to verify that work plans are followed and that benefit programs are administered and delivered effectively. These evaluations include interviews with sponsored families, community represenatives and field staff.

Sponsor's contributions help pay for the benefits that each child receives, and are used to support programs and provide benefits primarily in the areas of health and education. Benefits, which can vary from child to child, include: annual health exams, access to medical care when ill, nutrition education and counseling, school supplies and fees, clothing, and items for the home.

Each Field Project prepares an annual budget and regular financial reports are prepared quarterly and sent to CI's headquarters for analysis and follow-up. Independent CPA firms in-country perform semi-annual financial audits on each Field Project. CI internal auditors conduct financial audits annually in each field office to ensure that the office is following all accounting procedures as established in the CI Field Project Financial Manual.

In addition to the monthly sponsorship donation CI solicits for special gifts for sponsored children. Specifically, CI requests a voluntary donation for birthdays, Christmas, Easter and Special Hug Day. Policies regarding additional gifts and correspondence between sponsors and children are outlined in CI's "Sponsorship Guidebook."


  • Year, State Incorporated

    1951, Missouri

  • Stated Purpose

    "to bring real and lasting change to children living in poverty."


CI aims to ease the burdens of poverty on children. Through child sponsorship, the organization reports that it delivers benefits and services that ease the difficulties of day-to-day life while preparing children to grow up more confident, self-sufficient and in possession of the skills needed to leave poverty behind. CI's programs include healthcare, education assistance, nutritional support, youth programs, community improvements, and family aid. The organization reports that it currently serves over 335,000 in 11 different countries, including Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States and Zambia.

Worldwide program services 128,277,232
Total Program Expenses: $128,277,232

Governance & Staff

  • Chief Executive

    James R. Cook, President and CEO

  • Compensation*


  • Chair of the Board

    Larry Lee

  • Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation


  • Board Size


  • Paid Staff Size


*October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2011 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.

Fund Raising

Method(s) Used:

Direct mail, telemarketing, television, grant proposals, Internet appeals, door to door, planned giving, and face-to-face apeals.
Fund raising costs were 11% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $156,422,279, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)

Tax Status

This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.


The following information is based on CI's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011.

Source of Funds
Sponsorships and contributions 95,613,700
Corporate gifts and commodities 58,889,658
Legacies and bequests 1,544,433
Grants and other income 374,488
Total Income $156,422,279
  • Programs: 83%
  • Fundraising: 11%
  • Administrative: 6%
Total Income $156,422,279
Program expenses 128,277,232
Fundraising expenses $17,306,990
Administrative expenses $9,545,092
Other expenses $0
Total expenses: $155,129,314
Income in Excess of Expenses 1,292,965
Beginning Net Assets 44,071,452
Other Changes In Net Assets -538,167
Ending Net Assets 44,826,250
Total Liabilities 15,282,877
Total Assets 60,109,127

Note 1: In the above financial section, "other changes in net assets represents net realized, unrealized loss on investments, decrease in actuarial liability for gift annuities, and decrease in value of deliverable and non-deliverable forward contracts. Note 2: For the year ended September 30, 2011 CI reported in-kind income of $58,889,658 for education supplies ($53,228,323), clothing and other ($2,905,986), and medical supplies ($2,755,349).

An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.