Christian Organizations – Comprehensive


The #1 Solution to Extreme Poverty:
Comprehensive Community Development

Christian organizations known for effectiveness in this sector are distinguished by the fact that they have the resources and expertise to address the full range of community development needs. In other words, they have significant expertise in each of the more focused sectors, along with the ability to knit all these pieces together in a single package precisely tailored to fit the needs of a given community. Best practices include a sharp focus on community ownership, from start to finish, of long term capacity-building projects. Gifts to these organizations often take the form of child or village sponsorships, but can also be directed to a variety of specific sectors, causes, or needs… these organizations offer “one stop shopping” for donors who would like to make an impact in a variety of ways.

Bright Hope International …   This organization is small compared to most in the comprehensive community development sector, but achieves an outsized impact nonetheless.  More >

Bright Hope International owes its exceptional effectiveness to a laser-like focus.  BH focuses its efforts on the poorest of the poor, those living on $1/day or less.  By limiting its work to nine countries, they are able to further narrow their focus.  Working through 36 indigenous partner agencies, often groups of indigenous churches banded together to make a difference in their locale, BH brings the expertise and resources to help them achieve their vision.  By focusing their work through these partner agencies, Bright Hope is able to leverage local knowledge, resources, and skills as they work together to carefully design, implement, and monitor projects.  Sound methodology means that independence is valued and intentionally nurtured to generate transformative results.  And in the process, the local church is strengthened.

With 73 different projects currently underway, Bright Hope International leverages its smaller size by maintaining a sharp focus and working alongside committed indigenous partners.  To get an idea of both the nature of their projects, and the results they are generating, explore the project information pages found under the “Find a Project” tab on their site.  We find Bright Hope to be refreshingly unique in their willingness to share project particulars (background, data, goals, plan specifics) and updates…. here’s a sample

If you are a fan of comprehensive community development work, and prefer to support smaller organizations, Bright Hope definitely deserves a look.

Primary Sector:  Comprehensive Community Development

Organization Size:  Small — programs are supported by cash contributions totaling
$1,000,000 to $3,000,000 annually

Key Webpages:  about
projects by region or sector

Financial Statements:

Awards and Articles of Note:  Ministry Watch Shining Light Award 2010, 2011

Contact Information:  visit  , contact    


More information (program and financial) about Bright Hope Int’l
is available from the following organizations:
X   Charity Navigator      Charity Watch / AIP  (fee)
X   Guidestar      BBB / Wise Giving Alliance
X   Ministry Watch * X   ACCORD Network member
X   Intelligent Philanthropy  (fee) X   ECFA
* Five Star Efficiency Rating, Shining Light Award 2010, 2011


Compassion International …   This well known and respected organization takes a fundamentally different approach to fighting extreme poverty.  More >

Compassion International is known for its child sponsorship programs.  Their child development model begins with prenatal care and training; child sponsorships connect individual donors with children while providing for basic physical, educational, social, and spiritual needs; leadership development (higher education sponsorship) programs are available for Compassion assisted children who show the potential for becoming Christian leaders who will positively impact their communities in the future.

What makes Compassion different is that they are, first and foremost, a child advocacy ministry.  Rather than focusing on changing children’s environments through community development, Compassion focuses on directly impacting children, believing that transformed children will in their turn improve the environments (communities) in which they live.

To accomplish their child development work, Compassion operates exclusively through local, indigenous churches.  In order to participate, these churches must be well established and accepted by their communities and local governments.  The local church (with training and assistance) is responsible and accountable for the administration, outcomes, and finances of the child development program.  Over the long term, churches are expected to work towards independence so that their work can continue without Compassion’s involvement.   Compassion’s work serves to enhance the impact of the local church at the same time that children are released from poverty to grow into their potential.

Compassion International is the world’s largest Christian child development organization; to date, they have impacted the lives of over 2 million children in nearly 30 countries, while strengthening thousands of indigenous churches.  Compassion offers well developed ways for your church to partner with them in their work as well.  With tremendous reach and resources, Compassion brings a holistic approach to the challenge of releasing children from poverty, recognizing that these soon-to-be adults will be instrumental in breaking the cycle of poverty in their communities in the years to come.

Primary Sector:  Comprehensive Community Development (through child development)

Organization Size:  Powerhouse — programs are supported by cash contributions totaling $200,000,000 or more annually

Key Webpages:  child development focus
our sponsorship commitments
indigenous church’s role

US church partnerships (see transform your church tab)

Annual Report / Financial Statements:

Awards and Articles of Note:  see below

Contact Information:  visit , contact  


More information (program and financial) about Compassion International
is available from the following organizations:
X   Charity Navigator * X   Charity Watch / AIP  (fee) ***
X   Guidestar X   BBB / Wise Giving Alliance
X   Ministry Watch ** X   ACCORD Network member
X   Intelligent Philanthropy  (fee) X   ECFA (Charter Member)
* “10 Charities with the most consecutive 4-star ratings”
** Shining Light Award 2006-2009, 2011
*** “Best Way to Help in …”  West Africa, East Africa, Haiti


World Concern …  This respected organization focuses on bringing a comprehensive skill set to serving the least developed and neglected poor – those suffering outside the mainstream of humanitarian aid.  More >

World Concern is known for its ability to customize creative and effective solutions in difficult contexts, such as livelihood empowerment in refugee situations, or microfinance in remote rural settings.  Key to its success is a staff of over 1000 highly trained development workers, which is largely (95%) indigenous to the regions being served.  While able to deliver humanitarian aid when the situation warrants, World Concern focuses its efforts on teaching poor communities how to help themselves.  Community participation is both nurtured and required, as an important means to the end goal of self-sufficiency.

World Concern’s skill set is truly comprehensive in scope, enabling them to bring critical expertise in the right field at the right time, and in the right combinations.  Focusing on root causes, and avoiding debilitating hand-outs wherever possible, World Concern lends a carefully crafted hand-up to neglected communities willing to invest the time and energy it takes to build a sustainable future.  World Concern’s commitment to working along side (as opposed to doing for) the people they serve on a long term basis is part of the reason for their outstanding track record in transformational development.  One important feature of this capacity building approach is that as communities are empowered to help themselves, they are able to help neighboring communities in the future…. there is a lot of positive leverage to be had in this approach.

In addition to wide ranging options for financial and volunteer support, World Concern is committed to providing opportunities  for serious, long term church partnerships (here) known for their transformative effect on all concerned.

For all of these reasons, World Concern has earned the respect of the development services community; they deserve a closer look.

Primary Sector:  Comprehensive Community Development

Organization Size:  Medium — programs are supported by cash contributions totaling
$3,000,000 to $20,000,000 annually

Key Webpages:  mission
who we are / program links
village transformation
where we work

Financial Statements:

Awards and Articles of Note:  Charity Watch: Best Way to Help in East Africa, West Africa, Haiti

Contact Information:  visit   contact 


More information (program and financial) about World Concern
is available from the following organizations:
X   Charity Navigator * X   Charity Watch / AIP  (fee) **
X   Guidestar *      BBB / Wise Giving Alliance
X   Ministry Watch (2008 Shining Light ) * X   ACCORD Network member
     Intelligent Philanthropy  (fee) X   ECFA *
* Listed under parent organization, Crista Ministries**  Article:  “Best Way to Help…” in East Africa / West Africa / Haiti


World Relief …   This organization focuses on empowering indigenous churches to bring transformational development to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  More >

World Relief has built their mission and programs around the conviction that the Church, the broadest and most diverse social network on earth, has a clear scriptural mandate to serve the “least of these” and is in an ideal position to help the poor, and their communities, towards a transformed, self-sustaining future (see WR Manifesto here).  Of the organizations listed at Givers By Design, World Relief comes closest to the heart of our own mission:  Connecting the church with the world’s poorest people.

In working through indigenous churches, World Relief leverages its donation dollars for enormous impact.  Sometimes called one of the best kept secrets in the world of relief and development, World Relief’s staff of 2000 empowered over 100,000 indigenous volunteers last year to impact the lives of four million poor in tangible, transforming ways.  One of the organization’s big picture goals for the future is to equip 50,000 indigenous churches to do high quality development work in their own communities.  In addition to much needed individual support, many vibrant opportunities are available for US churches to partner in this effort (here).

In their international work, World Relief’s commitment to transformational development and best practices in the relief >>> rehabilitation >>> development continuum, along with well-developed monitoring and evaluation protocols, delivers maximum impact.  In its domestic program, World Relief’s efforts are concentrated on Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Services; this program is quietly responsible for resettling approximately 10% of all refugees entering the United States.

World Relief envisions the world’s most vulnerable people transformed economically, socially, and spiritually – through the efforts of the local, indigenous church.  Empowering and facilitating these efforts has proven to be remarkably effective and highly efficient, bringing the vision closer to reality…. a very high impact investment.

Primary Sector: Comprehensive Community Development

Organization Size:  Medium — programs are supported by cash contributions totaling
$3,000,000 to $20,000,000 annually

Key Webpages:  about
mission, vision, and values
interventions by country
major programs
gift catalog

Annual Report / Financial Statements:

Awards and Articles of Note:  Ministry Watch Shining Light Award 2010

Contact Information:  visit   contact


More information (program and financial) about World Relief
is available from the following organizations:
X   Charity Navigator      Charity Watch / AIP  (fee)
X   Guidestar X   BBB / Wise Giving Alliance
X   Ministry Watch * X   ACCORD Network member
X   Intelligent Philanthropy  (fee) X   ECFA  (Charter Member)
* Shining Light Award 2010


World Vision …   We think very highly of all of the organizations on our list, and support each of them without reservation.  If we had to choose just one organization to support, our favorite among favorites, this would be the one…  More >

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.  Helping to meet immediate needs and promoting lasting changes that will strengthen communities and move families toward self-reliance, World Vision guides and assists communities in transforming themselves by working along side them as they carry out their own development projects.  With an annual budget currently hovering around two billion dollars, World Vision (International) has served over 100 million people in over 100 countries; in 2012, their expert indigenous staff (44,000+) served 4.2 million of the world’s poorest people in over 1600 communities around the globe.  The excellence on World Vision’s work in relief, rehabilitation, and transformational development has earned the trust of more than 3 million donors, supporters, and volunteers; more than half a million child sponsors; thousands of churches; hundreds of corporations; and government agencies in the United States and around the world.

Founded in 1950, World Vision is widely acclaimed for the tremendous resources and expertise that it brings to its work with those living in extreme poverty.  Drawing upon decades of focused, relevant experience, World Vision has been a lead player in writing the book on transformational development, having pioneered and refined many of the best practices (as early as 1970) used by many other effective organizations (and even governments) today.  World Vision has extended its leadership role by promoting and facilitating collaboration between players, advocating for a transformational development approach at all levels as well as actively working to share its experience, develop more effective models, and extend the collective knowledge base in the fight against extreme poverty.  In addition, World Vision is an important and effective advocate for the poor; owing to its enormous presence and impact around the globe, they are able to influence policy for the benefit of the poor at the national level in many countries.  For example, World Vision’s advocacy programs helped to stop the flow of “conflict diamonds” which fuel numerous civil wars in Africa…  this is another direct outgrowth of their mission statement:  “… tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.”

World Vision brings a truly comprehensive skill set to the work of transforming communities among the world’s poorest people.  In any given community, they are capable of bringing all of the resources and expertise required to effectively foster transformational development.  Relying on an asset-based approach, which as a first step sets out to discover a community’s hidden skills, strengths, and resources, World Vision’s model is designed to be not just respectful, but immediately empowering.  With this as a dignity-enhancing start, World Vision’s experienced indigenous staff works side by side with community leaders to identify problems and root causes, develop plans to address them in a culturally appropriate context, and anticipate obstacles.  The community participates in and owns the implementation process as well, and is coached in continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment.   This participatory approach is necessarily long term, often requiring 5-10 years before World Vision leaves the community;  recognizing that the local church will continue to play a role in community leadership and care for the most vulnerable after they have left, World Vision pays particular attention to building and strengthening the local church throughout its work.  The end goal is a self-sufficient community with the capacity to address future challenges on its own, and even inspire and lend a hand in neighboring communities.

For those who wish to learn more about World Vision’s approach to transformational development, we recommend the following resources:
Transforming Lives (video, 17:22) here;
Communities Transformed with Change that Lasts (6 week study, pdf) here.

Primary Sector:  Comprehensive Community Development

Organization Size:  Powerhouse — programs are supported by cash contributions totaling $200,000,000 or more annually

Key Webpages:  the World Vision US site is extensive; here are some links to help you find what you are looking for…

Financial Statements:

Awards and Article of Note:

  • a Philanthropedia (division of Guidestar) 2011 Top Nonprofit for water, sanitation, and hygeine, here
  • a 2011 Social Impact Report (from Root Cause) recommended disaster response organization, here
  • a Charity Watch (formerly American Institute of Philanthropy) “Best Ways to Help…” in East Africa (here); West Africa (here); Haiti Relief (here)

Contact Information:  visit,   contact 


More information (program and financial) about World Vision (US/Int’l)
is available from the following organizations:
X   Charity Navigator X   Charity Watch / AIP  (fee)
X   Guidestar X   BBB / Wise Giving Alliance
X   Ministry Watch X   ACCORD Network member *
     Intelligent Philanthropy  (fee) X   ECFA (Charter Member)
* board of directors; instrumental in development of principles of practice 


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4 Responses to Christian Organizations – Comprehensive

  1. Charlene Sackschewsky says:

    Very impressed with your Web site. I noticed you had EMI (Engineering Ministries International) on your list. This pleased me as I support one of our Church members who is a member of this non-profit. After looking over your list I have decided to also support Bright Hope. I also will forward your website address to all my family. May God bless those who are so needy through this very helpful web site. Charlene

    • Moderator says:

      Thanks, Charlene! Glad you found another organization on our list that you want to support. We really appreciate you sharing our work with your friends and family… that is exactly the kind of support that will help us to make a difference.

  2. Chris Geissbuhler says:

    This is such a great resource. It is now my go-to website when I want to make a donation. It is wonderful to know that someone has put so much heart-centered focus into researching charities that can make a profound difference in a cost-efficient manner. It is the perfect place to “shop” for meaningful gifts to honor someone, living or ethereal! Thank you so very much!

    • Moderator says:

      WOW! — Thank you for your insightful and inspiring comments, Chris! We’re very happy to know that you are finding our resources helpful — and putting them to such meaningful use!

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