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published: 9/6/13

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World Vision

What is World Vision?

World Vision International is an Evangelical Christian Humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by Christian values, they are dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people, and serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

Since Robert Pierce founded World Vision in 1950, it has grown into one of the largest relief and development organizations in the world with total revenue including grants, product and foreign donations of $2.79 billion (2011).


The original organization, World Vision Inc., was founded by Pierce in 1950 to provide humanitarian aid. It initially operated in the United States, and soon expanded to other countries; in 1966, it operated under the name of "World Vision International".

World Vision International was founded in 1977 as an organization, by Walter Stanley Mooneyham the president of World Vision, as the result of a restructuring process that had begun in the early 1970s World Vision International was founded as an organization took over most international functions which were previously fulfilled by World Vision Inc.; it was headquartered in Monrovia, California, in the same building as World Vision Inc., which was reorganized as World Vision United States for operations in that country.

Mooneyham became also president of World Vision International until 1982 when he resigned after criticism within the International Board, where the accusations ranged from a dictatorial leadership style to an ethnocentric American communication style.

In 1967 the Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center (MARC) was founded by Ed Dayton as a Division of World Vision International. It became the organizational backbone of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, collected and published data about "unreached people" and also published the "Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas".

During the 1970s World Vision began training families to build small farms by teaching agricultural skills aiming towards making lasting effects in the communities they were helping by promoting self-reliance.

In the early 1980s famine struck Ethiopia resulting in intense media coverage. This inspired an influx of donations to the organization allowing it to provide food and health assistance and eventually allowing Ethiopians to successfully continue on their own. The organization also began installing water pumps for clean water in communities which caused infant mortality rates to drop. Volunteers now use the fresh water to teach communities gardening and irrigation and promote good health.

During the 1990s, it began focusing on the needs of children who had been orphaned in Uganda, Romania, and Somalia in response to AIDS, neglect, and civil war respectively. They began educating other African communities on AIDS after realizing its impact. They also joined the United Nations peacekeeping efforts to help those affected by civil war. World Vision also started to openly promote the international ban on land mines.

Today, World Vision are working in partnership in nearly 100 countries around the world, assisting more than 100 million people to struggle against poverty, hunger and injustice, irrespective of their religious beliefs. They are now focusing on larger issues of community development and advocacy for the poor towards the end of helping poor children and their families build a sustainable future.

World Vision as an overall organization is one of the world's leading relief and development agencies. In the UK, it is one of the members of the Disasters Emergency Committee. It employs over 40,000 people and well over 90% of staff works from their own home country.

Organizational structure

World Vision International is the organizational structure of the World Vision Partnership which operates today as a federation of interdependent national offices with three different levels of central control. The three categories of national offices are:

  • National offices, under strong central control by World Vision International, registered in the host country as a branch of the main organization.
  • Intermediate stage national offices, with their own board, but which seek approval from World Vision International for critical management decisions.
  • Interdependently national registered offices that are autonomous in internal decision but are expected to coordinate with World Vision International and are bound to the Covenant of Partnership.

The Covenant of Partnership is a document that all national members of the World Vision Partnership have to sign. According to this document all national offices have to accept policies and decisions established by the International Board and must not establish an office or program outside their own national borders without the consent of World Vision International and the host country.

Furthermore, with the exception of direct project founding, all funds intended for outside their national borders have to be remitted through World Vision International. Also the financial planning and budget principles adopted by the International Board have to be accepted as well as an examination of the financial affairs of the national offices by Partnership representatives.

The president of World Vision International has a seat on all national offices with own national board. Normally he sends a representative. World Vision International is registered in the United States as a charitable organization and described by the Internal Revenue Service as a church and is therefore as a religious charity not obligated to disclose its finances to the tax authorities.

The partnership offices – located in Geneva, Bangkok, Nairobi, Cyprus, Los Angeles, and San José, Costa Rica – coordinate operations of the organization and represent World Vision in the international arena. For making large scale decisions, the international organization considers opinions from each national office, whether in the developed or developing world. An international board of directors oversees the World Vision partnership. The full board meets twice a year to appoint senior officers, approve strategic plans and budgets, and determine international policy. The current chairperson of the international board is Denis St. Armour of Canada.


In A Declaration of Internationalization (1978) World Vision declares a Statement of Faith that corresponds to the Statement of Faith put forward by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) as standard for their evangelical convictions as the theological frame in which the organization as a whole has to operate.

World Vision aims to incorporate this Christian belief into their development work as well as their organization. Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations at World Vision Canada Linda Tripp wrote, "In Christ, we have a role model who healed the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and comforted the outcast, and whose message was about restoring relationships and reconciliation."

This directly relates to World Visions mission to provide emergency relief, development, promote justice, and spread awareness to countries in need. World Vision staff is not affiliated with one specific church; their staff makes up all branches of Protestantism and Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Staff participates in daily and weekly services. They stress that you can be a Christian in any culture.

However, World Vision also respects other religions that they encounter stating that "to promote a secular approach to life would be an insult to them". Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US, stated that World Vision has a strict policy against proselytizing which he describes as "... – using any kind of coercion or inducement to listen to a religious message before helping someone". The World Vision Partnership and all its national members are committed to the concept of transformational development, which is cast in a biblical framework and in which evangelization is an inseparable integral part of development work.


According to World Vision's 2006 Consolidated Financial Statements, around 40% of their revenue comes from private sources, including individuals, World Vision clubs in schools, corporations and foundations. 27% comes from governments and multilateral aid agencies such as USAID and the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK. 30% comes from other World Vision programs and nonprofit organizations as Gift in Kind. Aside from cash contributions, World Vision accepts gifts in kind, typically food commodities, medicine, and clothing donated through corporations and government agencies.

Approximately half of World Vision's programs are funded through child sponsorship. Individuals, families, churches, schools, and other groups sponsor specific children or specific community projects in their own country or abroad. Sponsors send funds each month to provide support for the sponsored children or projects.

World Vision Famine events like the 30-Hour Famine and 40-Hour Famine also help to raise money for impoverished countries. Typically, a group signs up to organize such an event, and then spends the next 30 or 40 hours abstaining from food, technology or other things that are taken for granted, and increasing awareness about world hunger.

Many schools and individuals are annually successful with this fundraising activity. In the beginning there was only the No Food Famine, but as an example of the flexibility of the program, some do a Techno Famine, without technology (i.e. cellphones, computers, TV or digital audio players). In 2009 nearly 500,000 children across the US participated in the 30 Hour Famine.

According to World Vision spokeswoman Myrna Gutierrez the money raised went towards buying food for countries in need such as Uganda and Haiti. World Vision's relief work in Haiti consisted of distribution of medical supplies and care to injured children and families. Even though the 30 Hour Famine is a critical fundraiser it also "aims to give young people a sense of what it is like to be poor and hungry". Another one is the 24 hour wake, an event that involves a group signing up for lack of any form of rest or energy drink supplements to show the overworked conditions the third world has to deal with.

According to World Vision's annual report, in 2008, 87% of its funding was spent on programs, 8% on fundraising and 5% on management and general overhead.


The activities of the World Vision organization is divided into five major areas: emergency relief, education, health care, economic development, and promotion of justice. World Vision activities include transformational development, emergency relief, strategic initiatives, public awareness campaigns and promoting Christianity. The organization has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, and financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical activities all over the world.

Its approach to aid is to first help people and their communities recognize the resources that lie within them. With support from World Vision, it claims communities transform themselves by carrying out their own development projects in health care, agriculture production, water projects, education, micro-enterprise development, advocacy and other community programs. It provides emergency relief to people whose lives are endangered by disasters or conflict and who need immediate assistance.

It attempts to respond to all major emergencies around the world themselves or in cooperation with their partner agencies. For example, World Vision responded to famine in Ethiopia and North Korea, hurricanes in Central America, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean nations earthquakes in El Salvador, India, Taiwan, Turkey and the Sichuan earthquake in China, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and war refugees in Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Angola, and East Timor.

It also addresses factors that perpetuate poverty by what it describes as promoting justice. It supports community awareness of the collective ability to address unjust practices and begin working for change. It claims to speak out on issues such as child labor, debt relief for poor nations, and the use of children as combatants in armed conflict. World Vision International has endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It claims to foster opportunities to help reduce conflict levels and to contribute to the peaceful resolution of hostilities and reconciliation of disputes.

World Vision encourages public awareness about the needs of others, the causes of poverty, and the nature of compassionate response. These efforts include collaboration with media and community participation in fundraising. In areas of the world that are considered too dangerous for news organizations to send their crews, World Vision’s own videographers supply newscasters with footage of events from these areas.

In its communications, the organization claims to uphold the dignity of children and families in presenting explanations of the causes and consequences of poverty, war, neglect, and abuse.

World Vision spends a considerable amount of time advocating to the U.S. government. In 2010, director of advocacy and government relations Robert Zachritz gave a testimony on global hunger to the human rights caucus.

In his speech Zachritz states that in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it lays the foundation for food as a right by saying in article 25 that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food..." He went on to state specific statistics on the issue such as 1 and 6 people currently suffer from hunger.

Zachritz even proposes that out of the major global challenges addressing malnutrition and hunger would offer the most cost effective solutions. "The January 2007 Lancet series reviewing the literature on child development showed that beyond the short-term consequences of increased mortality, morbidity and disability, childhood malnutrition has debilitating long-term consequences of stunted physical and cognitive development, lower economic productivity, and greater susceptibility to disease." Currently 1/3 of children are stunted. Zachritz stressed the importance of a proper diet for children, especially under the age of two, to avoid stunting.

As a Christian organization, World Vision participates in what it labels strategic initiatives with people it identifies as Christian leaders and lay people of all denominations through conferences, consultations, training programs and various educational opportunities. World Vision claims to be an ecumenical organization willing to partner with all Christian churches while claiming to be respectful of other faiths.

World Vision believes missionary work is a fundamental part of its relief work. The organization believes in the Christian God, claiming the "person of Jesus offers hope of renewal, restoration, and reconciliation". It says it seeks to express this message through "life, deed, word, and sign". It claims its programs and services are provided without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, or religion.

The organization was one of the founding members of global IT nonprofit NetHope. With more than 50 years of experience in India, World Vision India works in 24 states across the country through development that is community based, sustainable and transformational emergency response and disaster mitigation, advocacy initiatives that are grassroots based. World Vision India is a national NGO in partnership with a network of over 100 other entities within World Vision International. World Vision India is registered as a society under the Tamil Nadu Societies Act with its National Office based in Chennai. Governed by an autonomous Board of Directors, World Vision's programs are facilitated by close to 1700 staff.


"World Vision." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.