The charity was founded in 1950 as World Vision Inc. by Robert Pierce and co-founder Frank Phillips with the first office in Portland, Oregon. Originally, the charity operated as a missionary service organization meeting emergency needs in crisis areas in East Asia, where in 1954 it opened an office in South Korea. In order to restructure, the organization World Vision International was founded in 1977 by Walter Stanley Mooneyham the then president of World Vision.
In 1967, the Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center (MARC) was founded by Ed Dayton as a division of World Vision International. It became the organizational backbone of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, collected and published data about “unreached people” and also published the “Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas”.
During the 1970s, World Vision began training families to build small farms by teaching agricultural skills aiming to make lasting effects in the communities they were helping by promoting self-reliance. The organization also began installing water pumps for clean water in communities which caused infant mortality rates to drop. Volunteers now use the fresh water to teach communities gardening and irrigation and promote good health.
During the 1990s, World Vision International began focusing on the needs of children who had been orphaned in Uganda, Romania, and Somalia in response to AIDS, neglect, and civil war, respectively. They began educating other African communities on AIDS after realizing its impact. They also joined the United Nations peacekeeping efforts to help those affected by civil war. World Vision also started to openly promote the international ban on land mines. In 1994 World Vision US moved to Washington State.
According to Forbes magazine, as of December 2014, World Vision is the 11th largest charity in the United States with total revenue of over 981 million dollars.