339 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 1S9
Executive Director: Dalal Al-Waheidi
Board Chair: Greg Rogers

Charitable Reg. #:88657 8095 RR0001

STAR RATING

Ci's Star Rating is calculated based on the following independent metrics:

[Charity Rating: 1/5]

FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Audited financial statements available only through official request for information from Charities Directorate.

B

RESULTS REPORTING

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

Low

DEMONSTRATED IMPACT

The demonstrated impact per dollar Ci calculates from available program information.

NEED FOR FUNDING

Charity's cash and investments (funding reserves) relative to how much it spends on programs in most recent year.

65%

CENTS TO THE CAUSE

For a dollar donated, after overhead costs of fundraising and admin/management (excluding surplus) 65 cents are available for programs.



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OVERVIEW

About WE Charity:

Due to irreparable harm from the fallout of the WE Charity scandal, WE Charity announced it is closing the Canadian WE Charity. The US and UK  WE Charities continue. WE Charity was a one-star-rated charity.

WE Charity (first known as Free the Children) was co-founded in 1995 by Canadian teenagers Craig and Marc Kielburger. WE Charity's mission was to empower students by giving them and their teachers the tools to create transformative social change. WE Charity rose to global fame. WE Charity and Craig Kielburger were on the Oprah show and CBS' 60 minutes.

WE Charity grew and became a global children's charity with development programs in Africa, Ecuador, Haiti, India, and China. WE Charity's international development followed a holistic and sustainable model designed to empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. WE Charity also ran youth volunteering programs in schools. In 2009, WE Days began. These were massive youth rallies in Canada featuring celebrities and spokespeople to motivate and empower youth to change the world. Students and celebrities alike volunteered in communities and traveled overseas.

The covid-19 pandemic severely disrupted WE Charity's operations. Covid-19 canceled WE Days and overseas student trips. On top of the covid-19 pandemic, WE Charity became embroiled in parliamentary investigations known as the WE Charity Scandal. This was one of Canada's largest news stories of 2020.

WE Charity is currently suing CBC's Fifth Estate, Canada's premier weekly news report, for its investigative look into donor deception. The mother of WE Charity's co-founders is suing Canada's highly-rated podcast, White Saviours. WE Charity's lawyers have corresponded with Charity Intelligence. Please appreciate our report sticks simply to facts.

DONOR ADVISORY: Charity Intelligence issued a donor advisory on July 17, 2020, reflecting WE Charity Canada's turnover in directors. New information came to light about its unique governance structure and the control of the co-founders. WE Charity Canada appointed four new directors in March 2020. WE Charity's board changed again in March 2021 when three of the four newly-appointed directors stepped down in March 2021. Greg Rogers remains as board chair.

In F2021, for the year ending August, WE Charity has two main programs: Canadian youth programs and international development projects. 

In F2021, WE Charity spent $11.8m on Canadian programs. In these Canadian program costs, office costs are the largest. WE Charity spent $7.5m on office costs. Canadian program staff costs were $4.2m ($13.3m in F2020). According to WE Charity's T3010 annual returns, it paid $9.3m in professional fees in F2021 and $8.0m in F2020, including legal costs. Office costs in F2020 were $9.1m. These office costs may include the $5m cost of the Canada Summer Student Grant program that WE Charity incurred and was not reimbursed for by the government.

In F2021, WE Charity reported spending of $14.1m on international programs. This may include the value of donated goods used in programs ($8.5m), which Ci has adjusted for. Kenya alone accounts for 91% of international spending in F2021. Donations went overseas to WE Villages, communities supported through WE Charity's five pillars of development: Education, Water, Health, Food, and Opportunity. WE Charity states that targeting these five areas helps address the root causes of poverty and achieve holistic development. WE Charity's largest international region is Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), where it spent $12.0m. In F2021, there was no spending in other African countries. WE Charity spent $830k in Latin America (Ecuador, Haiti, and Nicaragua) and $316k in Asia (India and China). 

Other Charity Intelligence reports:
WE Charity Closing, the details, June 2022
WE Charity Foundation; the legacy continues, June 2022

 

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Results and Impact

WE Charity has not posted an annual report for 2021, 2020, or 2019. Most of these results refer to a report from 2018.

Charity Intelligence has given WE Charity a Low impact rating based on demonstrated impact per dollar spent.

The charity reports that 78% of educators feel more professionally fulfilled because of their involvement with WE Schools. WE Charity also reports that 82% of educators have identified opportunities for their students because of WE Schools.

WE Charity helped 44 high school students graduate from its Kisaruni Group of Schools in Kenya in 2018. During the year, it also reached more than 200 Kenyan women by opening a new Women's Empowerment Centre. The centre includes a computer lab, banking facility, artisan production space, and daycare.

Since its founding, WE Charity reports it has provided more than one million people with clean water and sanitation and helped 200,000 children access education. Since 2011, WE Charity has spent $167m on its international programs. WE Charity reported it had built over 1,500 classrooms and schools (WE Charity's 2018 annual report). In Kenya, WE Charity reports it has built over 850 school rooms, libraries, teachers' offices and kitchens (WE Charity's 2018 annual report). Given the amount of money spent, legitimate questions are asked about WE Charity's "outputs."

While Ci highlights these key results, they may not be a complete representation of WE Charity's results and impact.

Impact Rating: Low

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Finances

WE Charity received $2.1m in donations, principally from private grants. WE Charity Canada received $6.7m from its international WE Charities in the US and UK. Included in donations is $342k from Canadian charities that share WE Charity's mission. Of the $3.1m in government funding, $2.8m was covid-19 support provided to all charities. WE Charity uses the deferred accounting method. With the winding down of Canadian operations, its accounting recognized donations received in past years. $15.9 million of prior donations (deferred contributions) were recognized in F2021. We have excluded this non-cash adjustment (write-off) from our analysis.

WE Charity's administrative costs are 9% of revenues (less investment income), and fundraising costs are 26% of Canadian donations. This results in total overhead spending of 35%. For every dollar donated, 65 cents go to the cause. This falls within Ci's reasonable range for overhead spending.

WE Charity ended August 2021 with $2.7m in funding reserves. During F2021, WE Charity repaid all its bank loans of $14.0m. In August 2021, WE Charity sold its Toronto real estate for $29.2m. This was less than its book value, resulting in a $5.3m write-down.

WE Charity's audited financial statements disclose related party transactions: WE Charity paid $7k to We365 Holdings Inc. for support for Canadian programs in F2021, down significantly from $1.2m in F2020. WE Charity owns We365 Holdings Inc. WE Charity received $58k in contributions from ME to WE in F2021, down significantly from $1.9m in F2020.  

There are many WE Charity-related foundations. WE Charity's audited financial statements are not consolidated. They only report on WE Charity Canada's operations.

Due to the public interest in WE Charity and also since its website had not been updated with the most recent audited financial statements, here are WE Charity's audited financials:

For fiscal year ending August 2021
For fiscal year ending August 2020
For fiscal year ending August 2019

Charity Intelligence has sent this update to WE Charity for review. Changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Updated on June 9, 2022 by Ann Lei and Kate Bahen.

 

Financial Review


Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending August
202120202019
Administrative costs as % of revenues 8.7%3.1%5.7%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 26.1%2.8%6.5%
Total overhead spending 34.8%5.9%12.2%
Program cost coverage (%) 9.6%(5.1%)(4.6%)

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
202120202019
Donations 2,06324,81833,150
International donations 6,73827,53422,088
Goods in kind 8,4865,1948,475
Government funding 3,0606,6771,580
Investment income (89)(68)13
Other income (266)(68)(84)
Total revenues 19,99264,08665,221
Program costs - International 5,67623,86926,761
Program costs - Canada 11,83128,12123,729
Grants 10,1700400
Donated goods exp 8,4865,1948,475
Administrative costs 1,7381,9833,689
Fundraising costs 5396922,161
Other costs 464602627
Total spending 38,90360,46065,841
Cash flow from operations (18,911)3,626(620)
Capital spending (28,985)161(1,630)
Funding reserves 2,665(2,643)(2,212)

Note: Ci adjusted for amortization of deferred capital contributions affecting revenues by ($15.9m) in F2021, ($664k) in F2020, and ($720k) in F2019. In F2019, WE Charity received $150k in endowment contributions, which Ci included in donations. Ci adjusted for covid-19 government assistance affecting revenue and expenses by $2.7m in F2021 and $4.9m in F2020. Ci included foreign exchange gains (losses) in other income and included interest income, realized and unrealized gains (losses) on marketable securities, and earnings from investments in We365 in investment income. This affected total revenues by ($355k) in F2021, ($156k) in F2020, and ($113k) in F2019. Ci included interest on long-term debts in other costs and excluded losses (gains) on the disposal of capital assets from expenses. This affected total expenses by $464k in F2021, $927k in F2020, and ($1.4m) in F2019.

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 148

Avg. compensation: $30,599

Top 10 staff salary range:

$350k +
0
$300k - $350k
0
$250k - $300k
0
$200k - $250k
0
$160k - $200k
0
$120k - $160k
10
$80k - $120k
0
$40k - $80k
0
< $40k
0

Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2021

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

The following comment is from a previous profile (September 2021). Additional comments may be forthcoming. 

WE Charity official response to this posting and analysis from Charity Intelligence

Over 25 years, WE Charity made “doing good, doable”. Over 100,000 educators were engaged in classrooms across Canada, the US and UK providing free resources to help students with service learning—integrating global issues, action and volunteerism into core curriculum. Over 1.5 million students earned their free ticket to WE Days celebrating service. In nine countries in Africa, South America and Asia, more than 1 million people gained access to clean water and sanitation, 200,000 students received an education in schools established by WE Charity, and over 30,000 women were provided with the tools and resources to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Sadly, in the fall of 2020, WE Charity announced its closure as a non-profit in Canada. This was the result of a campaign of sustained attacks by some media and politicians, based almost entirely on misrepresentation and misinformation. Unfortunately, Charity Intelligence was one of the key sources of that misrepresentation and misinformation.

WE Charity had always respected the need for independent oversight of the charitable sector, and therefore had always supported and sought to cooperate with Charity Intelligence to the greatest degree possible. Indeed, prior to 2020, WE Charity had been given consistently high rankings from Charity Intelligence and even saw its grade increased in 2019. [Charity Intelligence downgraded WE Charity in October 2019 with the incorporation of low demonstrated impact. WE Charity received and participated in this communication.]  Nevertheless, the actions of Charity Intelligence, and particularly the behaviour of its key staff on social media, since 2020 were wholly lacking in respect, responsibility, accountability, professionalism and fairness.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the Canada Student Service Grant program in the summer of 2020, WE Charity engaged a host of experts in finance, law and governance to conduct a full review of all allegations leveled by Charity Intelligence. These individuals, including forensic auditor Dr. Al Rosen, forensic auditor Ken Froese, and former Solicitor General of Ontario Matt Torigian, are highly respected in their fields. In contrast, none of CI’s are professional accountants —a fact made abundantly clear by the ongoing misrepresentation of aspects of WE Charity financial statements.

At this time, I would like to counter the key misrepresentations and false statements made by Charity Intelligence and its staff since 2020.

At no time prior to the pandemic or the CSSG program was WE Charity in significant financial difficulty. This is a critical point because Charity Intelligence’s false narrative became the foundation for the false allegation that WE Charity lobbied the federal government for the CSSG program in order to allay its financial difficulties. The so-called “breach of covenant” which Charity Intelligence Executive Director Kate Behan repeatedly referenced in the media (and note WE Charity’s financial statements never used the highly prejudicial word “breach”) was an accounting technicality resulting from a shift in WE’s fiscal year that impacted revenue reporting for two consecutive reporting years. Forensic auditor Dr. Al Rosen reviewed WE Charity’s finances and definitively concluded: “WE was financially viable at the time of the signing of the CSSG Funding Agreement with the Federal Government and was not in any financial peril.”

There were no “blurred lines” between WE Charity and ME to WE social enterprise that resulted in a “backwash” of funds from the charity to the social enterprise. Ms. Bahen repeatedly told media: “I think the lines between these organizations are blurred intentionally.” When ME to WE was established, its corporate structure and relationship to WE Charity was reviewed by a host of legal and governance experts including some of Canada’s most respected law firms and former Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory. Since its founding 100% of ME to WE profits have been donated to WE Charity or reinvested to grow its social mission. Over the years, ME to WE Social Enterprise has donated more than $20 million in cash and cost-offsetting in-kind services to the charity. WE Charity has paid for services provided by ME to WE, like the purchase of deeply discounted ME to WE Trips for donors or youth on scholarships. Again, forensic accountant Dr. Al Rosen investigated the relationship and transactions between the two entities and concluded: “Any assertion that the ‘lines are blurred intentionally’ between these ME to WE Social Enterprises and WE Charity have not been supported by evidence… The ‘backwash’ analogy is not explained or reasonably-based on the facts of the source of funds, use of funds and purpose of funds.”

There was never a governance crisis at WE Charity. Ms. Bahen is quoted in media saying: “Did WE Charity inform the government that its board had resigned or was replaced just weeks before, and that there was a gap in governance and oversight at the charity? … Oh and by the way — it has no board.” The WE Charity board did not resign en masse. Through the summer of 2020, an orderly and long-planned transition of Board members took place associated with the org 25th anniversary, with three previous and highly qualified members—a lawyer, a certified accountant, and the former CEO of the Toronto District School Board—staying on to provide continuity and several new and highly qualified individuals joining the board. There was never a point at which WE Charity was operating without Board oversight.

Further false allegations: In media and on social media, the staff of Charity Intelligence made numerous other false statements including repeatedly misstating the value of the CSSG program, implying WE Charity of influenced third party evaluators with gifts and free trips, and wrongly attributing the actions of other groups (such as an east coast charity with a similar name) to WE Charity. The staff of Charity Intelligence also engaged in vicious and unwarranted personal smears against a WE Charity staff member who was suffering a life-threatening health condition.

WE Charity twice wrote open letters correcting the record on these false allegations, which only received a non-substantive, cursory response. You can read those letters: HERE and HERE.

In the opinion of WE Charity, Charity Intelligence leveraged the CSSG controversy for its own self-promotional benefit, boosting its own profile by advancing false information to harm another charity. It should be noted that Charity Intelligence has acted similarly in the past, including the True North Youth Foundation.

It is unfortunate that there appears to be few checks and balances on such misconduct. While Charity Intelligence presents itself as an expert on non-profit governance, its board consisting of just three individuals, two of whom are also paid staff of the organization (including Ms. Behan). Despite that, Charity Intelligence awards itself the highest grades in its own evaluation.

In contrast to Charity Intelligence’s conclusions, WE Charity has received funding from the Skoll Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as global businesses such as KPMG, Microsoft, and Unilever. All performed due diligence on WE Charity and, based on their findings, chose to partner with and financially support WE Charity.  It should also be noted that Charity Navigator (the largest reviewer of charities in North America) in Fall 2020 provided WE Charity [WE Charity US, a different and distinct charity] a perfect four-star rating.

Charity Contact

Website: www.wecharity.org
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Other frequently asked questions from donors: 

ME to WE: There is confusion among donors about the blurred lines between WE Charity and ME to WE. Collectively these two distinct organizations are referred to as "WE," "WE organization," "WE movement," or "WE entities." ME to WE is an affiliated social enterprise. In other words, ME to WE is a private business controlled by Craig and Marc Kielburger, WE Charity's co-founders. While WE Charity was founded in 1995, ME to WE started in 2004. ME to WE's CEO is Roxanne Joyal, Marc Kielburger's wife. WE Charity's CFO is also ME to WE's CFO.

WE Charity has a complex structure that is rare in the charity sector. Bloomberg News mapped out the charities and private Kielburger businesses that are WE entities.

WE Charity's response to this article is that while it has charities and businesses in many countries with different rules about social enterprises, states this corporate structure is necessitated by Canada's antiquated charity rules.

Tel: 416.925.5894

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Charity Intelligence researches Canadian charities for donors to be informed and give intelligently. Our website posts free reports on more than 800 Canadian charities, as well as in-depth primers on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer, and homelessness. Today over 500,000 Canadians use our website as a go-to source for information on Canadian charities reading over 1.6 million charity reports. Through rigorous and independent research, Charity Intelligence aims to assist Canada’s dynamic charitable sector in being more transparent, accountable and focused on results.

 

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Charitable Registration Number: 80340 7956 RR0001