WE Charity / Free the Children

233 Carlton Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2L2
Executive Director: Scott Baker
Board Chair: Michelle Douglas

Website: www.freethechildren.com
Charitable Reg. #: 88657 8095 RR0001
Sector: International Aid
Operating Charity

Charity Rating

[Charity Rating: 4/4]

Donor Accountability

Grade: A

The grade is based on the charity's public reporting of the work it does and the results it achieves.

Financial Transparency

Audited financial statements for current and previous years available on the charity's website [ Audited financial statement for most recent year ]

Need for Funding

Funding Reserves Program Costs

Spending Breakdown

Full-time staff #297

Avg. Compensation $27,874

Top 10 Staff Salary Range

$350k + 0
$300k - $350k 0
$250k - $300k 0
$200k - $250k 0
$160k - $200k 0
$120k - $160k 0
$80k - $120k 6
$40k - $80k 4
< $40k 0
Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2015

About WE Charity / Free the Children:

WE Charity, formerly known as Free the Children, was founded in 1995. WE Charity aims to empower youth in Canada to become agents of change and empowers youth in developing communities to lift themselves out of poverty by providing them with the skills and resources needed to change their lives.

In 2015, Free the Children spent 58% of program costs on domestic projects to empower a generation of young people to become active global citizens. The charity’s founders, Craig & Marc Kielburger, also operate Me to We, a for-profit social enterprise that offers international volunteer trips, leadership training programs and materials, speakers' series, and books that address issues of positive social change. Me to We's most prominent initiative is We Day, where celebrities and speakers are invited to join youth in learning about today's social issues. In F2014, 12 stadium-sized events were held, bringing together 179,000 youth from across North America and the United Kingdom. Of these youth, 98% stated that they believed that they could make a difference in the world.  

International programs (42% of 2015 program spending) use the Adopt a Village development model in rural and marginalized areas in 8 countries: Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Rural China, and India. The Adopt a Village model has 5 pillars: education, health, alternative income and livelihood, clean water and sanitation, and agriculture and food security. Free the Children’s international programs build schools and water wells, and provide medical treatment and sources of income to its adopted villages. Its projects are designed to address the root cause of poverty by removing barriers to youth success, educating and empowering youth, and transforming youth and communities.

In F2014, Free the Children engaged 66 international Adopt a Village communities. Its education programs have resulted in an 85% increase in the number of female graduates who are now able to attend secondary school. In Udawad, India, two wells were rehabilitated in F2014, providing clean water to over 800 families. In Baraka, Kenya, a maternity wing provided more than 3,000 mothers with pre-natal and post-natal care, and helped deliver 213 babies. In Kenya, the Oleleshwa farm was expanded to include 250 acres and 12 greenhouses, providing more than 2 million meals.

Financial Review:

Free the Children is a Major 100 charity, with donations of $38.3m in F2015. Its administrative costs are 6% of revenues and its fundraising costs are 2% of donations. For every $1 donated to the charity, 92 cents is put towards its programs, falling within Ci’s reasonable range. Free the Children’s funding reserves are ($5.8m). This is due to $8.9m in outstanding bank loans and a mortgage payable of $2.5m associated with the construction of the new WE Learning Centre in Toronto.

This charity report is an update that is being reviewed by Free the Children. Changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Updated on June 7, 2016 by Lynn Tay.

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending December
Administrative costs as % of revenues 5.5%5.8%5.1%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 2.2%1.9%1.9%
Program cost coverage (%) (15.7%)9.0%6.1%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 38,29537,19427,419
Goods in kind 2,4653,7942,951
Government funding 1,6201,7051,268
Investment income 30038113
Other income 38523329
Total revenues 43,06642,96431,779
Program costs - International 15,60517,44310,264
Program costs - Canada 21,29120,12518,685
Administrative costs 2,3612,5071,607
Fundraising costs 833700520
Other costs 862172
Cash flow from operations 2,8892,168630
Funding reserves (5,805)3,3672,202
Note: Due to a change in Free the Children’s fiscal year end from March to December in 2013, the F2013 results presented in the 2014 audited financial statements are for the 9 months ending on December 31, 2013. Ci has adjusted the program cost coverage ratio by annualizing the F2013 Canadian program costs and the F2013 International program costs. Ci has adjusted amortization affecting expenses by ($549k) in F2015, by ($483k) in F2014, and by ($346k) in F2013.

Comments added by the Charity:

Dear Readers,

We would like to share a number of important considerations and some additional context to this review done by Charity Intelligence, in the hopes of helping you to better understand the work that we do and how we do it.

We are proud to say that Free The Children is unique among charities operating in Canada in a number of ways.

The organization operates a dual mandate with both domestic and international projects. We aim to free youth within Canada from the notion that they are powerless to effect positive change in the world, while encouraging young people to free their peers overseas from poverty and exploitation. A typical international development organization collects funds and sends money overseas (often to third party partner organizations). Similarly, a typical local organization works only at the community level. Free The Children, however, works both at home and abroad.

We seek to empower young leaders at home to foster positive local and global change. Internationally, the organization pursues a variety of development projects with a particular focus on education, healthcare, alternative income and clean water. Simply put, we work to achieve a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. In our experience, the greatest momentum is created when we engage youth in North America to become involved global citizens, helping to make a difference locally and internationally. We provide this additional information on our mission because we believe that an analysis of a charitable organization must review the development model to ensure efficacy and efficiency of addressing root causes of an issue in a sustainable manner.

Free The Children also places great importance on providing donors and members of the public with confidence in our commitment to transparency, accountability and sound governance. This is done through expected mechanisms (including a strong independent board of directors and independently audited financial information which is readily available on our web site) as well as atypical steps (including subjecting itself to independent 3rd party reviews and evaluations on topics including governance, financial structures and curriculum used in schools). Unfortunately, these significant steps further demonstrating transparency and accountability were not considered in the limited preview of the evaluation of transparency by Charity Intelligence.

Detailed information on Free the Children and its financial and operational model can be found at www.freethechildren.com/aboutus/financials/notetovisitors.php. We share this information with you because these unique aspects of our work are important to us as we seek to create systemic positive change. We feel that this goal will be best reached by engaging youth to be agents of change in their local and global communities, and by striving to run our organization in a way that is as efficient, accountable and sustainable as possible.

Thank you for your interest in learning more about Free The Children. For additional information about our domestic and international programming, we encourage you to visit our website at www.freethechildren.com.

Warm regards,

Scott Baker
Executive Director
Free The Children

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