Ci's Top 10 questions for Marc and Craig Kielburger
WE co-founders Marc and Craig Kielburger will appear before the Finance Committee on July 28, 2020. New information about the complex network of WE entities is coming to light for the first time in the aftermath of the Canadian government’s announcement of a sole-source contract with WE Charity to administer the $912 million Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).
Since WE Charity is one of Canada’s largest charities with a global profile, Charity Intelligence (Ci) is closely following these hearings to learn and share new information. On behalf of Canadian donors looking for answers, these are the Top 10 questions we would ask Marc and Craig Kielburger at the Finance Committee hearings.
Charity Intelligence's Top 10 Questions for Marc and Craig Kielburger:
1. The CSSG was contracted through WE Charity Foundation, a new separate charity, rather than WE Charity. The explanation was that this was done for legal liability purposes. Did you consider that this course of action might increase the risk for the Government of Canada and also Canadian taxpayers?
Why ask this? Canada Revenue Agency filings show that WE Charity Foundation was registered in January 2018 to hold real estate for the benefit of WE Charity. The stated intention was to transfer millions of dollars in property to the Foundation, but as of June 2020, Global News reports that the transfers had not yet been made, which means it had few assets.
2. Why do you not hire leading international auditors to prepare your financial statements?
Why ask this? WE Charity Canada, WE Charity US, and WE Charity UK raised $60 million in annual support in 2019. When giving to charities of WE’s size, complexity, and global scope, donors and corporate sponsors often have greater confidence in top-tier international auditing firms, which is why larger international entities typically use them (Ci's article WE Charity's Next Steps).
3. On May 19, 2015, ME to WE Foundation US and WE Charity US each paid US$500,000 to purchase website domain(s). What domains were bought and who owned them at the time they were purchased?
Why ask this? According to 2019 documents, in 2015 ME to WE Foundation paid US$500,000 for the website domain we.org. On the same day, WE Charity (a separate US 501.c.3. charity), also paid US$500,000 for website domains. The recipient(s) of these funds/seller(s) of these domains were not disclosed.
4. Why do you need so many different entities and such a complex organizational structure in order to do your work?
Why ask this? WE Charity Canada is only one piece of a highly complex network that includes charities and private businesses. The partial list includes WE Charity (US), WE Charity (UK), ME to WE Foundation (US), ME to WE Foundation of Canada, WE Charity Foundation, Wellbeing Foundation (Canada), Wellbeing Foundation America Inc. (US), We365 LP, We365 Holdings Inc., We365 GP Inc., and Imagine 1 Day International Organization. The Kielburgers also have a controlling interest, through a holding company, in a private business ME to WE Social Enterprises Inc. More related and affiliated organizations may not yet be identified.
5. How do you explain that ME to WE Foundation has not disclosed in its US regulatory filings the non-arms-length relationships of its three directors?
Why ask this? The application for 501.c.3 charities asks: ‘Are any of your officers, directors, or trustees related to each other through family or business relationships?’ Over the past ten years, ME to WE Foundation filings have indicated ‘no’ to that question. According to publicly available records, directors Dalal Al-Waheidi and Victor Li have long and extensive working relationships with each other. Director Wendy Yunli Qi is married to director Victor Li.
6. Why are you not directors, officers, or trustees of any of these charities, but rather take the title “co-founders”?
Why ask this? Directors have fiduciary responsibilities for governing and overseeing a charity. Furthermore, there is no regulation in either the US or Canada requiring auditors to report transactions involving co-founders. Any moneys received from the Kielburgers – and any moneys paid to the Kielburgers – can legally go unreported in an audit. This co-founder loophole makes it impossible to trace dollar flow between entities and individuals.
7. At WE Charity (US) there are two classes of members. Will you provide to the Committee a list of founding and voting members since inception, and does WE Charity (Canada) have a similar selection mechanism for Canadian directors?
Why ask this? At WE Charity (US), there are two classes of membership: founding and voting. Voting members are authorized to elect the board of directors, and also to elect additional members. Founding members’ approval is required to admit new members, but founders have no other voting rights.
8. Would you be willing to provide the Committee a complete list and organizational chart of all entities in all jurisdictions which have as directors, members, and/or officers any of the following people in the last five years: Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger, Kielburger family members, Dalal Al-Waheidi , Scott Baker, and Victor Li.
Why ask this? In the last few weeks, several new entities have come to light that are part of the WE network. To facilitate research and to understand the full picture, it would be helpful for donors to know all of the various entities.
9. What are the names of the external advisors who recommended Greg Rogers as Chair of WE Charity (Canada)?
Why ask this? Based on a statement from Greg Rogers (board Chair), external advisors and existing board members were engaged to facilitate the process and identify potential Chair candidates.
10. ME to WE Foundation US reports US$15.8 million in program spending since 2015, but reports no staff or wages paid. What specifically was this money spent on?
Why ask this? Since fiscal 2015, ME to WE Foundation has spent US$15.8 million in ‘program services’. US$8.6 million was spent in fiscal year 2019 alone. ME to WE Foundation reports no staff or wages paid. In 2019, it gave $600,815 to other charities.
It’s important for Canadian donors to have a full understanding of the entire network of charities they are funding. What goes on in these various international entities may influence giving decisions. The more donors understand about the entirety of the network, the better informed they will be, and the better able to give intelligently.
Ci researches Canadian charities to help donors be informed and give intelligently. Its website posts free reports on more than 750 Canadian charities, as well as in-depth primers on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer, and homelessness. Today over 360,000 Canadians use our website as a go-to source for information on Canadian charities reading over 1.3 million charity reports. Through rigorous and independent research, Ci aims to assist Canada’s dynamic charitable sector in being more transparent, accountable and focused on results.
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