Below are frequently asked questions about WE Charity’s financials. WE Charity’s work, programs and impacts are regularly reviewed and assessed by accredited and independent 3rd party agencies and individuals. To learn more about these reviews, please visit our Evaluation and Transparency section.
What is WE Charity?
WE Charity is an international charity and educational partner. Our organization is unique among Canadian charities in that it operates collaborative programs both domestically and internationally. In Canada, the U.S. and the UK, WE Day and WE Schools are initiatives of WE Charity that educate and empower young people to make a difference. WE Schools is a year-long educational program that nurtures compassion in students and gives them the tools to create transformative social change. WE Day is a series of stadium-sized events that celebrate youth making a difference in their local and global communities.
In Africa, Asia and Latin America, we partner with communities to implement WE Villages, a holistic five-pillar international development model designed to achieve sustainable change. Together with local leaders and families, we transform lives with solutions that are adaptive, effective and sustained long-term by the community itself.
- WE Schools is a year-long experiential service-learning program that empowers youth to make positive impacts in local and global communities. With over 16,000 schools engaged globally, WE Schools aims to revitalize the fundamental purpose of education: instill a love of learning in students, move them to develop life skills to better the world and empower them to forge their own personal paths to success. Educators are given the tools to engage their classes, allowing students to further their core-curricular learning while gaining an understanding of the root causes of the pressing issues around them.
- WE Day is a day-long educational and inspirational event that celebrates the power of young people to make a positive difference in the world. As part of the WE Schools program, students earn their way to WE Day, WE Charity’s signature youth empowerment event. While the event is free for schools and youth to attend, participants must earn their tickets through a commitment to one local and one global action of their choice through the WE Schools program.
- WE Villages is an adaptive, effective five-pillar model built on 20 years of experience collaborating with dedicated community members and international development experts to find solutions that work. Our model is designed to address the root causes of poverty and remove the barriers to education to break the cycle of poverty. It is not a handout or single solution, but a combination of key interventions that empower a community to help themselves through our five Pillars of Impact: Education, Water, Health, Food and Opportunity. At the heart of the asset-based community development approach lies the belief that the community’s own assets and resources, including the people, institutions, skills and capabilities, are the most critical resources for development. In essence, it is an approach that seeks to build sustainable livelihoods and to break the cycle of long-term dependency to promote self-sufficiency. We currently work in nine countries overseas: Kenya, Tanzania, Ecuador, Nicaragua, India, Rural China, Sierra Leone, Haiti and Ethiopia.
Where can I find information on your sources of income and expenditures?
Please consult our annual reports and audited financial statements.
How much does WE Charity spend on administration?
We are proud of the fact that we consistently exceed industry standards. WE Charity spends less than 10% of its funds on administration, with, on average, 90 cents of every dollar donated going directly to support child-serving programs.
All charities must spend some of their funds on administrative costs. These expenses are necessary to keep the organization running effectively, such as physical building maintenance, human resources and other fixed, non-operating expenses. We invest in administration costs that enable our work, such as measurement and evaluation, and select investments in technology to achieve efficiencies. As an industry standard, the U.S. Better Business Bureau suggests charities should spend 35% or less on fundraising and administration, with at least 65% of funds going to support programs. In sum, WE Charity helps to take a leadership role in efficiency and effectiveness.
How much does WE Charity spend on fundraising?
For fundraising, we spend (on average) no more than $3 for every $100 we raise. That’s an amazing 3% fundraising cost on average!
How are you able to keep your administrative costs low?
WE Charity works diligently to ensure that donations are used effectively and efficiently. We want as much of our funding as possible to support programs that empower children in the developed and developing worlds. To that end, unlike many other nonprofit organizations:
- We don’t hire high-priced fundraising consultants
- We do not pay for advertising space
- ME to WE provides significant in-kind support to WE Charity to directly reduce expenses
What is the relationship between WE Charity and ME to WE and how is it structured?
WE Charity is a registered and operating charity. WE Charity’s headquarters are located at 339 Queen St. E, Toronto.
ME to WE is a social enterprise. ME to WE’s headquarters are located at 145 Berkeley St., Toronto.
WE Charity has an active Board of Directors who oversee the organization and drive the strategic direction of the charity. The board provides legal, financial and fiduciary oversight to the charity and appoints the Executive Director to oversee the day-to-day operations.
ME to WE has an active Board of Directors who oversee the social enterprise and provide strategic guidance. The Chair of WE Charity participates on the ME to WE board to ensure the social enterprise acts in the best interests of WE Charity.
ME to WE and WE Charity are legally distinct entities and maintain separate financials, governance and headquarters. However, each party shares a common mission and works toward a common goal.
WE Charity and ME to WE partner together in driving the WE movement. The relationship is defined by a legal partnership agreement which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party and is reviewed and signed off annually by the Executive Directors and Board of Directors of both organizations.
The structure of the partnership is such that ME to WE’s primary function is to support the mission of WE Charity. ME to WE designs its programs and products in such a way to support and reinforce the core activities of the charity.
Has the structure between the two organizations been reviewed by a third party?
WE Charity and ME to WE recognized that the social enterprise model was not commonplace in the Canadian context. Consequently, they have taken a number of unprecedented steps to ensure the model and partnership structure have been assessed by independent experts. This includes modes of interactions and areas of financial engagement including financial transfers, staff allocation and office space. These areas have been reviewed by a series of experts and independent groups:
- Provincial Guardian Trustee Sign off on Model
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) is a branch of the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Attorney General which provides services that safeguard the legal, personal and financial interests of certain private individuals and estates. As a matter of legal due diligence, WE Charity and ME to WE underwent a full assessment from the PGT and were awarded an official court order supporting the structure and relationship.
- Evaluation and Endorsement from the Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
The Honourable Peter Cory, C.C., C.D., performed a comprehensive review of all governance and operations of the charity and social enterprise and provided an unconditional commendation and formal recognition of the financial diligence demonstrated by both ME to WE and WE Charity.
- Proposed and Structured by two top law firms
To help create a sound corporate structure, governance model and reporting requirements for the partnership, WE Charity and ME to WE engaged two of Canada’s top law firms, Torys and Miller Thomson, who offered pro bono legal services in creating the governing documents of the partnership.
- On-Going Legal Advice from Miller Thomson LLP
Miller Thomson LLP is a national legal practice that specializes in business law and works with nonprofit organizations and businesses alike, as an internationally recognized law firm. Since the inception of ME to WE, we have sought legal counsel from Miller Thomson, and continue to receive ongoing confirmation of the legitimacy of the structure of our operations.
What is the nature of ME to WE’s in-kind support for WE Charity?
ME to WE provides significant in-kind support to WE Charity that directly reduces or eliminates expenses the charity would otherwise have to incur, resulting in the ability of the charity to maintain a low administration rate and maximize donor dollars. The following are some of the ways in which ME to WE supports through in-kind support:
- ME to WE provides motivational speakers to WE Charity events at no charge to the charity
- ME to WE provides free office space to WE Charity for some of its staff and has been doing so since its inception.
- Every two years, WE Charity staff and ME to WE staff have the opportunity to come together and travel to either Kenya, India or Ecuador to see the impact of the WE Villages model in person. This provides WE Charity staff the opportunity to connect directly with the projects and people they work very hard to support and provides a deep connection to the mission and impact of their work. To honor staff, ME to WE covers associated on-the ground costs with the trip.
How does ME to WE, the innovative social enterprise, help WE Charity keep its administrative rate low?
What makes ME to WE a true social enterprise in that its bottom line is not measured by profits, but by the people empowered and the lives transformed. Every decision begins and ends with “how will this make the world a better place,” and every action brings us closer to this crucial goal and helps support the work of WE Charity.
ME to WE donates at minimum half its net profit to support WE Charity, while the remainder is reinvested to grow the mission of the social enterprise. ME to WE is mandated by its bylaws to donate a minimum of half its net profit to support WE Charity, while the other half is reinvested to grow the mission of the social enterprise. Since 2009, ME to WE has made $20 million worth of cash and cost-offsetting in-kind donations to WE Charity. In the last 5 years, ME to WE has, on average, has donated over 90% of its profits back to WE Charity while reinvesting the balance to ensure sustainability.
Using a highly effective model, ME to WE is structured to offset expenses and help provide pro bono services to WE Charity’s work, ensuring that the charity achieves a remarkable rate of financial efficiency. WE Charity on average is able to spend 10% with an average of 90% of its donations going directly to child-serving programs at home and abroad.
Please find out more here.
How do corporate partnerships help WE Charity keep administrative costs low?
WE Charity is further able to keep its administrative costs as low as possible through partners that provide us with valuable in-kind services. We are proud of the fact that we consistently exceed industry standards. WE Charity spends less than 10 percent of its funds on administration, with, on average, 90 cents of every dollar donated going directly to support our projects and programs.
WE Charity receives approximately one eighth of our consolidated budget in the form of in-kind goods and supplies. Citizenship-minded companies support us, from legal and business services to the supplies and logistics that make WE Day possible (e.g., tour shipping, air and ground travel), to the advanced technology that made the WE Global Learning Center a hub for connecting staff, youth, educators and social entrepreneurs around the world.
How does WE Charity allocate donated funds for programs?
WE Charity’s work involves two distinct streams of programming: international and domestic. This model helps to ensure that we can create impact both at home and abroad. We allocate our project related funding to the following:
International: In 2017, 31.5% of WE Charity’s program funding went to our international programs, partnering with communities in nine countries, empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty. WE Charity has been widely recognized for its sustainable, scalable five-pillar development model called WE Villages.
Domestic: In 2017, 58.5% of WE Charity funding supported our domestic programs. These programs, in Canada, the U.S. and UK, are part of our mission to make doing good doable. This includes our innovative WE Schools program, creating educational resources that bring real-world issues and problem solving into the classroom through service-learning.
What does it cost to deliver program impacts in WE Villages communities?
Every partner community WE Charity works with is different, of course, each with its own unique needs and challenges. However, here are some average cost examples for key impacts from each of the five pillars of our WE Villages development model:
- $50 for supplies for the primary education for one student
- $50 health workshops for one mother (benefiting her children as well)
- $150 for farming tools for a family
How is WE Charity governed?
A remarkable volunteer Board of Directors oversees the work of WE Charity, which includes setting policies and procedures, as well as monitoring our budget and expenses to ensure funds are spent wisely. Our Board consists of respected professionals drawn from the business, academic, government and nonprofit sectors who bring a wealth of diverse skills and experience to the governance of our organization. This includes the work of our finance committee, which also play an important function overseeing major financial activities for the charity.
Learn more here.
Have WE Charity’s financials and operations been independently evaluated?
Numerous independent third parties regularly evaluate WE Charity on our impact, governance and financial accountability and transparency.
Independent third-party audit and accounting firms conduct audits of WE Charity every year in Canada, the U.S. and UK. We are very proud to say that, every year, WE Charity has received an “unqualified audit rating,” which is the highest possible rating for such a report. In other words, it is a “clean opinion.” This means that the auditors have found no questions or concerns about our financial accountability and transparency, and have fully vetted our financial information.
Furthermore, MoneySense magazine’s 2018 Charity 100 gave WE Charity an A grade, including A+ grades for governance, fundraising efficiency and overall efficiency.
In 2017, after a rigorous evaluation, Good Housekeeping magazine chose WE Charity to be the very first recipient of its new Good Housekeeping Humanitarian Seal.
Charity Intelligence Canada—an independent organization that evaluates and grades charities—has awarded WE Charity its highest four-star rating.
WE Charity has also received a four-star score and rating on Charity Navigator, with a total score of 94.74 (out of 100), scoring 97.5 on financials and 93 on accountability and transparency.
What is the WE Global Learning Center?
The WE Global Learning Center (WE GLC) is a community space that makes doing good doable for youth and adults in Canada and internationally. With world-class technology, leadership programs and social issues workshops, the WE Global Learning Center is an innovative hub where action plans come to life and transformative change is created.
The WE Global Learning Center is more than just the new headquarters, it’s the destination for any world-changer who wants to learn about the world. It is the ultimate field-trip for schools or families that want to learn about global issues, and the place for businesses to hold their staff retreats to learn about socially conscious leadership.
The best part is that schools and groups don’t need to be located in Toronto to take part in WE’s cutting-edge programming—they can participate via digital classrooms, using technology that supports the delivery of leadership training and professional development, no matter where they are in the world.
The WE Global Learning Center is transforming service-learning opportunities for millions of students coast to coast and around the world, enhancing their skills and knowledge so they can create positive change in their local and global communities.
The WE Global Learning Center is owned and operated by WE Charity and was made possible by the commitment of a community of donors.
What is the WE Social Enterprise Centre?
For the 25th Anniversary of WE, our dream is to build a nexus of innovation, a campus for good that will bring together non-profits, social enterprises, and community services, all in one location to create local and global transformative change. The WE Social Enterprise Center is both the geographical and spiritual cornerstone of the dream.
Our vision is to establish a central hub, a city block where community organizations, social enterprises, and aspiring young social entrepreneurs can easily access training, mentorship, services and resources to realize their own visions, and scale their impact. Through shared spaces, they will be able to interact and network, learning from one another as well as from experts in a wide range of fields. Our goal is to positively transform the community WE calls home. As that transformation takes place, we will work to ensure those most in need continue to have a home in that community, and benefit from that positive impact.
The WE SEC is just the start. It’s going to take a long-term commitment, but we will achieve our dream with the generous support of individual donors like Hartley and Thor Richardson and others, as well as leading businesses who share our vision.
How is WE Day funded?
WE Day is entirely enabled by monetary and in-kind donations of goods and services from our corporate supporters, foundations and individual donors, to name a few. Thanks to their championing, each event is free of charge for tens of thousands of youth. Funds raised by youth are never directed to support WE Day.
When a Gift of Impact is purchased online from our donation catalogue, where does the money go?
WE Charity implements WE Villages, an international development model to end poverty. It’s not a handout or a single solution, but a combination of key interventions led by Five Pillars of Impact: Education, Water, Health, Food and Opportunity. WE Villages focuses on both infrastructure and the distribution of key inputs, and training and educational programming are an essential component of the work that we do.
All the Gift of Impact items are symbolic of projects or programming in the countries where WE Villages is implemented, and are associated with specific Pillars of Impact. The gift prices are based on average costs in the nine countries in which we operate.
Funds from Gift of Impact items will be used to purchase the selected item where locally appropriate, or will be put toward an associated project or program within the pillar, ensuring a sustainable and holistic impact that takes into consideration the specific needs of the communities we work with.
For example: When a donation is made toward the purchase of a goat, depending on the needs on the ground and the local culture, the funds can be used to purchase goats, or they will be used for similar support in animal husbandry and other income-generating projects within our Opportunity Pillar. These funds will also go to support programming like ensuring regular veterinary visits and training on proper animal husbandry management (e.g., identifying disease and ensuring proper nutrition), in addition to trainings in financial literacy, skill-building in business and income-generation, and group formation. Through the support of the WE Villages model, your donation makes the most significant and sustainable impact possible.
Is WE a registered charity?
WE Charity is a registered charity in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
WE Charity Canada Tax ID: 88657 8095 RR0001
WE Charity United States Tax ID: 501 (c)(3)-16-1533544
WE Charity England & Wales Registered Charity Number: 1138645
WE Charity Scotland Registered Charity Number: SC045815
Is ME to WE a part of WE Charity?
No. ME to WE and WE Charity are legally separate and independent entities, each governed by their own boards of directors. ME to WE is a partner of WE Charity, providing support by donating at least half its net profits to WE Charity. The other half is reinvested in the enterprise, offering socially conscious products and experiences that allow you to have an impact through your consumer purchases. ME to WE is an independent social enterprise with its own Board of Directors.
Please find more information here.
Am I eligible for a tax receipt?
WE Charity is able to provide a tax receipt for any donation over $10 in the following countries: Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
For more information contact:
Victor Li, CPA, CGA
Chief Financial Officer
E-mail: [email protected]
How can I see the impact of my contributions?
One of our core values is honoring every stakeholder and we adhere to that value by being fully transparent in all our operations. When you donate to our international projects, you will receive periodic updates on the impact of your support. In addition, our innovative “Track Your Impact” system lets you see the lives your purchase is changing by giving you a unique code when you purchase ME to WE products or special WE campaign products offered by our partners. And you can visit our page at any time to read uplifting stories of change from around the world.
Does WE Charity accept donations of supplies like clothing, or school materials, for its international projects?
Generally, WE does not ask for or accept donations of supplies. WE Charity’s model of development focuses on sustainability and providing a hand up instead of handouts to the communities that we partner with. WE Charity purchases supplies, resources and equipment locally whenever it is possible. This helps support the local economy and ensures that all goods are culturally appropriate. WE will sometimes take in-kind donations of medical supplies and specialized equipment when major emergencies impact the communities where we work, such as during the Haiti earthquake relief effort.