ME to WE exists to support its charitable partner, WE Charity. By ME to WE’s charter a minimum of 50% of its profits must be donated annually to WE Charity. Any outstanding balance is re-invested to grow the social mission (ex: in 2016–2018, ME to WE launched Fairtrade chocolate production within the WE Villages country of Ecuador). While 50% represents the minimum threshold, this number often climbs much higher—WE’s auditor shows that for the past five years, ME to WE donated over 90% of its profits. Since 2009, ME to WE has donated $20 million in cash and cost offsetting in-kind donations to WE Charity.
The ME to WE financials are audited and reviewed by the WE Charity Board of Directors, as part of a larger annual review process, in collaboration with ME to WE’s executive director, Russ McLeod. In addition to funds, ME to WE provides multiple other in-kind benefits to WE Charity. The relationship between the two entities has been independently studied and reviewed by multiple legal and financial experts (see the Oversight and Independent Reviews section for more information on independent reviews).
Although they are fully separate and legally distinct entities, as per Canada Revenue Agency requirements, ME to WE supports WE Charity. In part due to this model of ME to WE supporting WE Charity’s administration costs, WE Charity has been able to achieve a remarkable level of efficiency within the nonprofit sector, with only 10% of its budget spent on administration costs. This results in an average of 90% of WE Charity donations going directly to charitable efforts at home and abroad, and is a very efficient rate given the average among U.S. charities of WE Charity’s size is 25% spent on administration and fundraising.
Mission Measurement reviewed the corporate structure of ME to WE Social Enterprises and verified that it was “legally separate” and “exists to both support the sustainable development model of WE Charity, and provide a sustainable source of funding in support of WE Charity’s social mission.”
There are additional indirect financial benefits that ME to WE facilitates for WE Charity. During their independent review, Mission Measurement determined that “ME to WE Trips serves as a principle fundraising vehicle for WE Charity.” They also found significant evidence that following their ME to WE Trip, participants have funded WE Charity’s large-scale development projects, such as the Baraka Hospital or WE College in Kenya. These trips are often “a catalyst for significant post-trip donor support in other avenues. WE Charity derives the benefit, while ME to WE has made the investment in developing the infrastructure to host people in the areas and assumes all operating costs.”
You can learn more about WE Charity here.
The Honourable Stephen T. Goudge is a well-known and highly respected member of Canada’s legal community. Justice Goudge, nearly 10 years after the relationship was first reviewed, has performed an updated 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 as initially reviewed by Justice Peter Cory. You can read Justice Goudge’s report here.