Plan vs World Vision

This document is a quick comparison between Plan Canada/Plan and World Vision Canada/World Vision International. People often ask me why I choose Plan over World Vision. It's because the What, How, Where and effecacy of Plan Canada is more closely aligned to what I see as the best way of accomplishing foreign aid and development. See below for the details:

Plan Canada World Vision Canada
Plan International started in 1937 in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. It was originally named Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain. After the Second World War it began helping children effected by the war throughout Europe and China. By 1970 it changed it's name since it was working in South America as well as other regions in Asia.
In 1962, U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was honorary chairwoman during Plan's Silver Jubilee. It is most notable for it's Adopt a Child program as well as it's Gifts of Hope that you can send to a family.

Plan Canada was started in 1968 when Plan started working in South America and Asia.
World Vision started in 1950 as a US evangelical Christian umbrella organization to "to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God." World Vision International was started in 1977. It comes with a very nice account of the founder.

World Vision Canada started between 1950 (first discussions in Canada) to 1957 (when World Vision Canada actually got a building).

I have been personally assured that World Vision volunteers and staff do not give out Bibles or give sermons unless the the locals want them, and only with those that choose to participate.
The amount of money that Plan uses to run it's operations is 22.7% ~ 26.7%. This is very efficient when compared to other organizations.

(Both are in the same range of efficiency, as I can't pin down a specific number due to uncertainty with the numbers they release.)
The amount of money that Plan uses to run it's operations is 19.2% ~ 24.2% in 2010. This is very efficient when compared to other organizations.

(Both are in the same range of efficiency, as I can't pin down a specific number due to uncertainty with the numbers they release.) 
Plan Canada is part of the Humanitarian Coalition. This organization was created to be a stream lined disaster relief organization. Rather than having charities compete with each other in emergencies, the members of the Humanitarian Coalition put their money together, work in concert, reduce administration costs, and stop overlapping in areas and services when responding.

This means a greater emphasis on helping those in need even if it means loosing jobs in the NGO itself, or control of the money they raise. The members of Humanitarian Coalition aren't trying to protect their jobs, but instead are trying to help people in need. Members include: Oxfam, Plan, Save the Children and CARE.
World Vision does a good job of raising money and spending it on programs. So they reject the idea of being part of a joint, concerted effort to efficiently and quickly raise money, divide it among priorities and work together to respond to disasters, as the interview with the president of World Vision Canada stated in an interview with CBC.

They are willing to work with other organizations on the ground, and probably even share information. They also list a large number of groups, coalitions and membership organizations they are part of. But I believe that most of these do not stand between World Vision and their money. This is a level of control that other members of the Humanitarian Coalition choose to give up control for the good of the people who need help.

I am immediately suspicious of any organization that refuses to be part of an organization like the Humanitarian Coalition.

However, World Vision does have a relationship with the Humanitarian Coalition, and may work with them on a case by case basis. In an email from World Vision they said they would work with them in the future if there is an opportunity and if it is appropriate. But I'm not actually sure what that means. When is it not appropriate to work with people trying to save lives?

So in short, they work to co-ordinate their efforts, but keep control of taking in funds. Bad? No. But good? Neutral at best.
Plan Canada assists communities in a number of areas, including: building schools, educating teachers, digging wells, opening health clinics, providing vocational training, using technology to improve crop yields, giving people access to small business loans, and providing disaster-related humanitarian assistance. On average, Plan Canada works with communities for 10–12 years before phasing out operations in that area.

Plan also delivers family planning education. And while I couldn't find if they were pro-choice or pro-life, they approved of Harper's maternal health plan that was against information on, education about and/or provision of abortion.
World Vision's president and newsletter designers spend time and effort telling people in Canada to pray. They have a quarterly newsletter made by the president and skilled workers who make the page setting. And they tell donors and members of their Church Network to pray.

They carry out relief, education, micro-financing. I believe they also construct civic buildings. On average they are in a community for 15 years.

World Vision also delivers family planning education and are pro-file.
Plan is pioneering a radical new approach – Community-Led Total Sanitation – which educates communities about the importance of sanitation and helps them to construct and maintain their own latrines. They also gain the confidence to enforce a total ban on open defecation. This method is key to having local ownership over projects.

The community that they are helping are left in charge, taking ownership, learning the skills, and applying them properly to their particular region--not a one size fits all solution.

They work with organizations in that country to actually do the work. They partner with all types of organizations.
They help people of all faiths (and I assume no faith) without question. But do they make choice to not aid people based on ideological concerns, like the Catholic Church does? I have been personally assured that World Vision volunteers and staff do not give out Bibles or give sermons unless the the locals want them, and only with those that choose to participate.

They constantly send volunteers to work in these communities. The volunteers must spend their own money to do so. However, their volunteer outreach program is done primarily through Canadian churches giving the false impression that it's Christians providing the means and support, and not just average Canadians, because the volunteers are mostly Christian. To be fair, I'm sure well over half or even over 80% of their donors are Christian.

What local organizations actually deliver the services? Does World Vision employ lots of staff down there? Do they use churches or NGOs that exist in those countries? Does this increase the idea that Christians are alone responsible for the good will?

The volunteers that go must pay their own way or fund raise. So they get to start a World Vision branded fund raiser that members of their communities donate to. It's possible this cuts in to donations that would otherwise be used support the programs the overseas programs. But I can't really complain about this because the World Visions donors garner massive amounts of money from people for their overseas projects. So if the volunteers divert some of that money from their friends, family and community members for two weeks that is up to those people.

Now, many Christian organizations have railed against World Vision for being pro-condom use an family planning. This is a plus. However, my understanding is they are anti-choice. This is a negative.
From their website: "Founded in 1937, we are one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, we have only one agenda: to improve the lives of children."

In other words, they do it for it's own sake. Because it's simply the right thing to do.
From their website: "World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. As followers of Jesus, we are motivated by God's love for all people regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity."

It concerns me that they are motivated by God's love rather than their own. World Vision emailed me to say "from the abundance of God's love, we find our call to minister... to relieve suffering." But this isn't a motivation. At one point they get near a motivation when they say they value all people... but that is only because they believe God made all people.

The motivation for doing it is because God believes it's right. So, a loss of faith, a change in God's beliefs, or a change in the understanding of God's position could cause a wavering in their faithful commitment. (Like, when the Protestant churches broke away from the Catholic Church, this changed how people approach all aspects of their lives.)

That said, the donors and people working for and with World Vision are probably all good people committed to this cause. I do disagree with their corporate mission statement.

Update: Here's a link to an article explain a study in which very religious people were less motivated by compassion to help illustrate what I was saying.

Despite the negative things I have to say about World Vision, I believe that they are good people, doing good work. My issue is that Plan Canada are good people doing great work. They are simply more worthy of my money.

In 2012 Plan (International) was ranked as one of the top 100 NGOs in the world and through the Humanitarian Coalition is linked with 3 of the top 11 disaster response organizations, via Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children. World Vision was on neither list.
Now, clearly World Vision does good work. But why settle for mediocrity? But Plan simply goes about the same goals in a better, more sustainable way. It keeps the local regions in control, leaving the work and decisions to be made locally, to respond to local conditions, and in a way the local community finds useful, practical, and in accordance with their values. They are empowering the people in need to change their own lives, rather than simply giving them change and hoping it all works out for the best. Both organizations respect the local religion and culture. I do have trouble with the idea of doing this work under the guise of a Christian organization, with Christian church volunteers. However, many of the partners and staff world wide come from whatever dominate religion is in the country they are working in. (But again, do they only partner with religious organizations?)

Plan also has a Gift of Hope program similar to World Vision, where you can give some goats to a family, or books to a school. World Vision has far more options that are very detailed. For example they have medical related gifts like their HIV and AIDS care kit and their Help Immunize a Community gift. Plan does not provide specific "gifts" like that, despite the fact that they do similar work.

On the gift giving programs:

The reason that specific gifts work is it connects you emotionally. World Vision and Plan allow you to sponsor a child because that increases your connection. Not sponsor some people, but a particular child. The psychological effect this has is well studied. World Vision even allows you to select which child (to increase your psychological connection). World Vision also uses this psychological marketing to get people to fund particular projects like the HIV/AIDs and Immunization packages I listed above. So if you think those are of particular interest to you, you won't get the same satisfaction of donating to Plan's general pot, even though it does get used for the same things. Both World Vision and Plan use this psychological trickery to help you be the best person you can be. It turns you from someone who wants to donate to someone who does donate.

For example, Plan has a multi-pronged comprehenzive approach to health, including HIV. But there is no way to fund only part of their approach, like you can with World Vision. I believe Plan would be able to raise more money by letting people decide on the issues important to them. I, on the other hand, take the approach of letting people who know what is needed divide up the money and take the best approach that will most effectively help the community they are working with, which is why I don't mind simply donating to the organization. This is because I trust Plan (and Oxfam) to do what is right. I've looked in to it. I know where my money is going.

(Though, I perfer to send my money to development organizations like Oxfam rather than Child Sponsorship or Gifting programs, but again, I trust them.)

The information collected on this page comes form the annual reports of the respective organizations, their websites, and an email message World Vision sent me within 5 days of me creating this page.