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Plan International UK pilots project to transform child sponsorship communications

Plan International UK pilots project to transform child sponsorship communications

Plan International UK has launched a pilot project aimed at transforming communications between sponsored children and UK sponsors through the use of devices.

The project has been made possible through funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, and sees Plan International UK work with enterprise mobility firm CommonTime. It will pilot a number of software solutions over 2018, with the aim of enabling modern, digital communication between a sponsor and their sponsored child, that both significantly cuts down the time it takes for messages to reach recipients, and reduces the cost of facilitating communication for the charity.

Plan International UK currently has around 81,000 sponsors in the UK, sponsoring over 86,000 children in 50 countries. As part of the programme, sponsors receive regular updates and photographs from their sponsored child and keep in touch by writing letters back.

However, even emailed messages can take a number of weeks to deliver. CommonTime’s aims to make communicating easier, quicker and more engaging for the sponsor and sponsored child, by sending and receiving messages through their mobile device. It will also enable sponsors to exchange digital photos and videos with their sponsored children, and written content will be automatically translated into local languages.

The pilot has been carefully designed not to impact or hinder the content moderation process required to keep the charity’s sponsored children safe. Plan International UK staff will receive a copy of every message before it is delivered to the intended recipient, with the option to approve or reject the messages depending on content. Rejected messages will be automatically returned to the sender, with a brief description of the reasons for rejection and suggestions on modifying the content. This will provide sponsors the opportunity to edit messages before re-sending.

Alan Gosschalk, Director of Fundraising for Plan International UK said:

“Child sponsorship has always been one of the most powerful and engaging ways to make a difference. Sponsors find it hugely rewarding building a personal connection with their sponsored child, and receiving updates about how Plan International UK is helping the community they live in. Support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled us to utilise technology that will make it both cheaper and easier to build unique relationships around the world and communicate the impact of donations.”

Ian Knight, CEO of CommonTime said:

“We are delighted to be working with Plan International UK on a project that will have such a real-world impact. CommonTime believe that finding new and engaging ways of communicating with supporters will be vital to the success of charities over the next decade. Our team are excited to see the response from the pilot and hope that the innovation will be received well enough for an international roll-out.”



Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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