Our history

CCFs overseas director Dr Verent Mills with children in China

CCF's overseas director Dr Verent Mills with children in China

ChildFund Celebrates 75 Years!

After beginning work in China in 1938, ChildFund is now one of the world's oldest child-focused development organisations.

ChildFund (or China’s Children Fund as it was known then) was started by an American humanitarian, Dr J. Calvitt Clarke. In 1937, Japan’s invasion of China resulted in the second Sino-Japanese War in Asia. Amidst reports of widespread devastation and the displacement of millions of families and children, Dr Clarke decided he needed to take action to support the relief effort.

From his home in Richmond, Virginia, and with the support of wife Helen, Dr Clarke launched a nationwide appeal in the US for funds for displaced children in China. Despite being in the midst of the Depression, and using his own money for stationary and postage, Dr Clarke found enough willing supporters to enable him to establish China’s Children Fund (CCF) in 1938, sending the organisation’s first contribution, US$2,000, to support local initiatives in China.

Dr. Clarke continued to write and appeal for assistance and, by the end of 1939, CCF had sent a total of US$13,000 to support the KuKong orphanage and a school in China.

Dr Clarke, and wife Helen, receiving the the Ribbon of Honor South Korea President Syngman Rhee

Fast forward 75 years, and CCF has transformed into the ChildFund Alliance, a global network of 12 organisations assisting more than 15 million children and families in 58 countries.

To celebrate this historic anniversary, representatives from each ChildFund member, as well as every National Office director, will come together in November 2013. Meeting in Bangkok, it will be the first time that such a global meeting has taken place, with representatives from more than 65 countries.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence, who will be in attendance, says: “It will be a time not only to celebrate this momentous occasion, but to also reflect on ChildFund’s past and our common goals for the future.

“Many thousands of children and their families have benefited from the work of ChildFund over the 75 years, and we have much to be proud of. But it is also important to ensure that our combined efforts bring positive change to more children’s lives in the years to come.”

  • 1938: China Children’s Fund (CCF) established to help children devastated by the Sino-Japanese war. First donations used to support a school and the KuKong orphanage
  • 1941: CCF implements a child sponsorship program – enabling sponsors to donate funds to support one child.
  • 1946-47: CCF’s work grows to include the Philippines, Burma, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo and India. Following world war II, CCF also expands its operations to children in Europe. CCF focuses on education, food and shelter for children, particularly those children displaced and orphaned by war.
  • 1951: To recognise the global nature of the organisation, the CCF acronym is changed to represent Christian Children’s Fund. Work also commences in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and South Korea.
  • 1960: A change in philosophy begins, with CCF focusing on providing assistance to children through family support. The ‘family helper program’ starts to replace assistance for children in orphanages as the main program approach. Work expands to Taiwan and Brazil. CCF Canada is established.
  • 1967: CCF makes another shift in its work to ensure that local programs are led by local leaders whenever possible.
  • 1973: CCF ends its work in Europe and the Middle-East to give greater concentration to Africa, starting in Kenya. CCF Denmark is established, shortly followed by other new CCF members Germany, UK and others.
  • 1985: CCF Australia is established by a group of concerned, eminent Australians including Dr Adrian Johnson, Sir Roden Cutler VC, Bob Stevenson and Bill Joris. The focus on raising sponsorship funds to support the programs delivered by CCF around the world. Australian support for CCF Australia grows rapidly.
  • 1990s: CCF begins to play a greater role in delivering humanitarian support during disasters, specialising in Child Centred-Spaces, which provide safe places for displaced children during an emergency. World alliance of CCFs is formed.
  • 1994: CCF Australia establishes its first community development programs in Papua New Guinea, first partnering with the Salvation Army.
  • 1995: CCF Australia begins work in Vietnam, working with ethnic minority communities in remote areas.
  • 2000: Global research on child poverty gives added emphasis to CCF’s community development program approach and completes the move away from the family helper model.
  • 2005: ChildFund Alliance is formalised with 12 global members - USA, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and Taiwan.
  • 2005: CCF Australia changes its name to ChildFund Australia, to clearly reflect our values and vision: to assist children in need regardless of their gender, religion or ethnicity. ChildFund Australia becomes a member of the ChildFund Alliance.