Funding projects

Principles and guidelines

Kindermissionswerk is the German branch of POSI (Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood) in Rome, which brings together 120 child welfare organisations worldwide. According to its Statute, the organisation aims - in addition to carrying out missionary educational work in Germany - to help children in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania and Eastern Europe "who are disadvantaged or in danger or who (...) are in acute emergency situations", by promoting their "religious, social and cultural development" and by "supporting development cooperation projects geared towards children". In addition, the organisation seeks to support "missionary, pastoral and social work" in the respective local churches (section 3). Kindermissionswerk does so primarily by providing financial assistance to social and pastoral projects that help children and young people.

Even at the beginning of the third millennium, the plight of millions of children and young people in the world remains alarming. Of the world's 2.2 billion children, 86 percent live in developing countries. In many southern regions, children and young people account for up to 70 percent of the total population. One sixth of all children - mostly girls - receive no schooling. Millions of children and young people have poor future prospects and exist on the margins of society. There are 100 million street children worldwide. Every fourth child under the age of five suffers from malnutrition. Every day, 15,000 children worldwide die as a result of poverty. Millions of children and young people are emotionally neglected, growing up without protection and exposed to the risk of poverty, crime or prostitution.

Kindermissionswerk puts its weight behind projects that contribute directly or indirectly to improving the living conditions of children and young people. Projects should be planned and implemented with a participatory orientation. The main focus is always on the welfare and rights of children and young people. Children and young people should be listened to actively and their concerns taken into account. Community-based programmes have priority. All funding areas are geared towards combating poverty and - in the interests of its children - increasing the society's ability to help itself. Contacts at Kindermissionswerk are at hand with expert advice when applying for and implementing projects.

These principles and guidelines are designed to provide orientation to partners who wish to initiate and implement projects for helping disadvantaged children with the aid of Kindermissionswerk. After the principles of funding and the funding areas are presented and explained, detailed information is provided regarding the form in which project applications should be presented to Kindermissionswerk. The final section outlines the accountability requirements relating to the projects.

Kindermissionswerk would like these principles and guidelines to be instrumental in bringing about a real improvement in the situation of disadvantaged children in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Eastern Europe and in the work it undertakes in partnership with local churches.

Our mission: To provide help and hope for children in need

In the Gospel, Jesus identified himself with children who had been excluded and called them to him: "Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9.37). Welcoming a child means welcoming Jesus and therefore God Himself and is a fundamental act of faith and emulation. Given the neglect, danger and exploitation to which millions of children and young people are subjected, it is therefore the primary responsibility of Christians to provide them with security, protection and development opportunities that they need to lead a dignified life.

As a Catholic donor organisation, the children's charity Kindermissionswerk (full German title: Kindermissionswerk "Die Sternsinger") is especially committed to the message of the Gospel and to the Christian image of man. This is why the organisation works to help disadvantaged children and young people to improve their life situation significantly and, in this way, to experience the liberating message of God. In the spirit of the holistic approach that the organisation takes in its work, spiritual work is also absolutely essential. From a project funding perspective, this task consists of several elements: combating poverty through development, working to protect the rights of children and young people, providing catechesis and providing pastoral attention. Kindermissionswerk's work is carried out in ecumenical openness and with respect for other religions and ideologies.

Preferential option for the poor

Kindermissionswerk is committed to the "preferential option for the poor" that is rooted in the Gospel. This means that, when evaluating project applications, it always takes into account the perspective of the poor and disadvantaged: children and young people who live in poverty are the organisation's main target group. Accordingly, its aid activities are focused on countries and areas that are especially disadvantaged.
Here, assistance is given to children and young people who are marginalised or actively in danger: children with disabilities; abandoned, excluded, exploited and abused children; hungry and sick children; children in disaster and war situations. The preferential option for the poor also refers to children and young people who are not necessarily especially poor in the material sense but who have been socially and emotionally neglected.

Children and young people as the target group and players

Kindermissionswerk is primarily geared towards helping children and young people aged up to 18 years. In exceptional cases, it also helps young adults - particularly those with disabilities - insofar as they belong to the relevant youth-oriented projects or programmes supported by Kindermissionswerk. The projects and programmes help children and young people regardless of religion, origin or skin colour. Providing support to children and young people also means providing support to parents, teachers and organisations that lobby on behalf of children and young people.

Helping girls, who are particularly disadvantaged in many places, is of prime importance. The protection of the physical, mental and sexual integrity of children and young people must be ensured in all cases. Children and young people are not just beneficiaries of our aid. Rather, they themselves also constitute a spiritual and social force aiming to change the world for the better. For this reason, the projects and programmes supported by Kindermissionswerk always aim to identify and nurture the potential of children and young people.

Partnership and responsibility

To fulfil its mission, Kindermissionswerk supports first and foremost the pastoral and social initiatives of partners and partner organisations in the local churches of the project countries. Partner organisations are mainly legal holders of projects in local churches - such as dioceses, parishes, religious orders and church organisations, movements and non-governmental organisations - that represent the Christian image of man and that work to protect the rights of children and young people. The local organisations are generally best acquainted with the local situation and know which steps are necessary and advisable for overcoming the prevailing problems.

Justice and peace

Funding provided by Kindermissionswerk should always make a contribution towards attaining justice - and, in turn, peace - for children and young people the world over. Because of this, Kindermissionswerk's work is geared primarily towards safeguarding the rights of children and young people as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Specifically, this concerns their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and meeting basic needs such as food, healthcare, clothing, shelter, education, etc. Safeguarding these rights is essential in enabling children and young people to break the vicious circle of poverty.

Preservation of creation

Many millions of children are forced to live in an environment that is detrimental to their health and their development. Kindermissionswerk projects should be implemented in a way that protects the environment, avoids ecological damage and maintains a world in which the current and future generations of children can live a dignified life. At the same time, they raise the awareness of children and young people of the need to preserve creation.

Holistic approach

Kindermissionswerk's project funding aims to help the holistic development of children and young people in their family and social environment. It views people holistically - material needs and spiritual, emotional needs are not viewed separately but are attributed equal importance. All the support we offer takes into account both the physical and the psychological and spiritual development of young people and therefore also covers religious, cultural, social, ecological and economic aspects.

Solidarity and subsidiarity

The projects and programmes that are supported by Kindermissionswerk convey the solidarity of the organisation, its donors and its multipliers in Germany with disadvantaged children and young people in project countries. By means of effective public relations work, factual information on the plight of children and young people throughout the world and by means of transparent procedures and low administration costs, Kindermissionswerk aims to maintain and strengthen this solidarity among the general public and, above all, among children in Germany. Kindermissionswerk's solidarity with the project partners and target groups is conveyed in the partner-like and professional way it implements its projects. However, Kindermissionswerk's solidarity is based on the assumption and requirement that the project partners and local social and church-based organisations have the same solidarity with the target groups.

Accordingly, not only solidarity but also the principle of subsidiarity is of fundamental importance to project work. Kindermissionswerk is at hand to help where there are not enough resources available to provide adequate help. Financial support helps people to help themselves and does not replace the initiative that partners must demonstrate at the outset. The partners and target groups must be the subject of their own development; they should not become the object of aid because this would offend their human dignity. The partners are provided with assistance for activities undertaken on their own initiative, so that they can assume permanent responsibility for these. It must be ensured that the target groups are involved and that their desire to help themselves is taken into account and encouraged. For every Kindermissionswerk project, partners are expected to make a contribution. This ensures that the project has a lasting effect and that the dignity of the partners/target groups remains intact. Subsidiarity also means that partners endeavour to acquire local and/or state funding and to generate their own funds locally.

Basic orientation

Kindermissionswerk provides funding to partner organisations who help children and young people directly. This assumes that the project partners are close to the target group and that their activities also affect their direct family and social environment. If possible, they should actively include in planning and implementation those who benefit from the aid, presuming that these are old and mature enough. Only in this way can the measures be used precisely where they are necessary and effective. The projects do not aim to help individual children and young people in need but rather to address the causes of their problems. Rather, their intention is to create fairer structures and conditions.


Kindermissionswerk's funding aims to have a lasting effect and bring about positive changes. This means that the projects must be sustainable by nature. The aim is to strengthen permanently those structures that offer the target groups the prospect of a dignified life. Sustainability assumes that local project partners are supported in such a way that they can carry on implementing the project on an ongoing basis. Encouraging independence is an integral part of Kindermissionswerk's project funding. It is imperative to avoid permanent dependence on overseas aid. This also means that the projects are integrated in the structures of the local church and society rather than operating parallel to or even in competition with them. In this way, the organisation's project funding makes a key contribution to ensuring socially just, efficient and ecologically sound development for local children and young people.

Application principle and partner dialogue

Kindermissionswerk does not develop projects of its own, but rather provides active assistance to partners who apply in writing for funding. Even if the partners require expert advice and active assistance from the donor organisation, they are still seen as the players who are responsible for bringing about effective local change. In this way, the partners - together with Kindermissionswerk - ensure the quality of the project work with their (usually vast) experience. The basis for such collaborations is an application from the partner based in the project country. The partner organisations contact Kindermissionswerk and submit their application for financial support for planned measures in accordance with Kindermissionswerk's guidelines. Both the legal representatives of the partner organisation and the persons charged with implementing the project are accountable contractual partners to Kindermissionswerk.

Applications must contain all necessary information about the partner organisation in question, the legal representative and the person responsible for the project as well as on the target group and the nature and objectives of the project. The applicant must also submit a detailed and sound cost estimate and financial plan. The funding decision is taken by the relevant bodies in the donor organisation. Once the application has been approved, the partners assume responsibility for the contractually agreed implementation of the project and for a comprehensive and transparent accountability. As contractual partner, Kindermissionswerk is responsible for actively assisting and advising the partner, for examining the application and the report on project implementation and accountability. In dialogue with the project partner, Kindermissionswerk gauges the project partner's urgent and long-term objectives within the framework of needs and possibilities. This cooperation assumes direct contact with the local project partners, for instance by project trips and visits by partners to the administrative office.

Corruption prevention and transparency

Development cooperation, even the church-based form, is as exposed to corruption as any other areas involving funds, capital and personnel. This applies to both players in Germany and to those in partner countries. Given that corruption ultimately harms people in need, Kindermissionswerk has a particular joint responsibility for ensuring that its funds reach the project countries and are used responsibly.
Corruption can only be combated by maximising transparency. Transparency must be ensured from initial application to completion of funding - both in Kindermissionswerk's administrative office and in the project setting itself. In the administrative office, transparency is ensured through clear decision-making structures based on adequate information and the dual control principle.

If funding is awarded, the project partner undertakes to acknowledge receipt and render accounts of all the funds used in the project. This transparency requires not only that objectives, planning and financial requirements should be clearly stated from the outset but also that funds should be accounted for in a suitable, traceable and verifiable form. The partners must be briefed on the need for transparency and sign a contract to this effect. To this end, the project partner maintains documentation throughout the project period, containing all the paperwork belonging to the project, particularly the receipts for expenditures. As well as submitting a detailed narrative and financial report at the end of the project, the project partner reports on the extent to which the objectives specified in the project application were achieved, and backs this up with evidence based on the specified indicators. In the same way, the partner points out the prospects for guaranteeing and evaluating the success of the project in the long term. Partners who failed to meet the necessary transparency requirements in earlier projects - for instance by providing no reports (or inadequate reports) on funded projects - can no longer be supported by Kindermissionswerk.


Kindermissionswerk constantly strives to maintain the high quality of its project funding. The project objectives should be reached, the aid should reach those who need it and the situation of children and young people should be improved substantially and sustainably. Professionalism also means that negative consequences should be avoided in the project setting ("do no harm" principle). In a funding context, quality means that the funding is relevant, effective, efficient, socially just and sustainable. It is relevant when the project is correct and necessary; it is effective when the specified objectives are met; it is efficient when the objectives are met as cost-effectively as possible; it is socially just if it serves the rights of children and young people; and it is sustainable if it shows a lasting effect based on independent implementation. Quality can only be achieved through professionalism. Professionalism is attained by providing Kindermissionswerk personnel with the requisite training and by increasing the expertise of project partners. It is increased through ongoing evaluation and observation of impacts. Owing to its professionalism, i.e. to its careful, thrifty and statutory use of funds, Kindermissionswerk bears the seal of the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI).


Kindermissionswerk is not alone in its work as a globally active church-based organisation. It has close ties with other global church-based donor organisations, particularly those belonging to the MARMICK network (this is the association of the German Catholic donor organisations: Misereor, Adveniat, Renovabis, Missio Aachen and Munich, Caritas international and Kindermissionswerk). The organisations in this association complement each other in their project work and share their expertise with one another. In this way, they compare country and sector policies, co-finance selected projects and avoid duplicate financing. The missionary orders in Germany, which work closely together with poor people in the partner countries, are also key cooperation partners. Natural and therefore preferred cooperation partners are not least the Roman networks POSI (Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood ) and POSPA (Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle), to which Kindermissionswerk belongs and with which it has very close historical and structural ties.

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