History of World Vision

World Vision's founder Dr. Robert Pierce


From the beginning, World Vision's activities have been focused on giving people – especially children – opportunities to alleviate their suffering and to improve their lives. In 1947, American missionary Dr Robert Pierce travelled to China and Korea and encountered people who regularly had to go without food, clothing, shelter or medicine. During the Korean War in the early fifties, he helped set up orphanages to care for children who’d been abandoned or orphaned.

Upon his return to the US, Pierce began raising funds to continue and expand his work in Asia. The strength of the public response was such that, in September 1950, World Vision was founded, with Pierce as its president.

World Vision was established in Australia in 1966. During that decade, World Vision expanded its operations to meet the needs of refugees in Indochina and of people recovering from disasters in Bangladesh and in several African countries. Where long-term assistance was needed, children began to be sponsored by Americans, Australians and others.

In the 1970s, World Vision's focus broadened from assisting the individual child to include community development. Since the 1980s, the “welfare” approach has gradually changed to a more collaborative relationship. Poor, marginalised people and communities work with World Vision to improve their lives and take control of their futures.