October 18, 2016
(updated October 27, 2016)
Greg Thomson, Director of Research
Note: After this article was posted, Scott Baker, Executive Director of WE Charity, contacted me to provide clarification on a few points. The article below includes changes based on Scott’s letter.
With WE Day going on across the country, donors are seeking information on just what this “WE” is. They ask why we don’t have a profile on ME to WE. The simple answer is that ME to WE is not a charity. It is a for-profit social enterprise that was started by Canadians Craig & Marc Kielburger in 2008 to sell products that empower people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices – primarily paid volunteer trips as well as socially-conscious products. ME to WE has been awarded the top B Corp certification, meeting the rigorous B Lab standards for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, one of only ten organizations in Canada to achieve this status. WE Day is run by ME to WE to “create a powerful and life-changing experience that inspires young people to go out and make a difference in the world,” be that at WE Charity or other non-profits.
Confusing? Well, WE recently rebranded Free the Children as WE Charity in part to reduce the confusion. The charity, social enterprise and overall movement have all been combined under one brand: WE. Donors should note that it is WE Charity that they can donate to.
Charity Intelligence has not seen the audited financials of ME to WE; however, WE Charity states that it receives 50% of the annual net profits from ME to WE, which, in 2015, amounted to $837,000, or just under 2% of total revenues for Free the Children / WE Charity. WE Charity spends over half of its program spending on domestic programming (which, for some reason includes spending in the US and the UK, although the amount spent in these countries is not disclosed on its CRA T3010 filing), spending 58% of program spending to empower youth to become active global citizens. WE Charity also operates international programs, supporting its WE Villages in eight developing communities to help lift them out of poverty.
Interestingly, WE Charity has taken on the $16 million mortgage for the new WE Learning Centre in Toronto as its purchase was made possible by generous targeted donations from long-term supporters of the charity. According to the charity, “the Centre will bring service-learning resources to 10,000+ schools around the world, ensuring that every student experiences the empowerment and life skill development associated with service-learning, while these young change-makers benefit their community and world. It will allow WE Charity to better connect with educators and students around the world.” Charity Intelligence looks forward to hearing about the social results from this significant investment.
To learn more about WE Charity, please view the WE Charity profile.