Is ME to WE a charity?

ME to WE is a social enterprise—a for-profit business with a mission to create positive impact in the world. ME to WE does that by providing socially responsible products and life-changing experiential trips that empower you to make a difference with your consumer dollars, and by creating income opportunities for artisans in our partner communities—especially women.

ME to WE has very specific policies and legal structures to maintain its social purpose. The business does not pay dividends or provide any form of incentives to its stakeholders. It is simply designed to create social returns through the deployment of business strategies.

Learn more about social enterprise.

What is the relationship between ME to WE and WE Charity?

ME to WE and WE Charity are legally separate and independent entities, each governed by their own boards of directors. ME to WE supports the work of WE Charity by donating a minimum of 50 percent of all revenues every year.

To ensure good cooperation and transparency between the two organizations, the Chair of WE Charity’s Board of Directors sits on the ME to WE Board to represent the voice and best interests of WE Charity. The Chief Operations Director of ME to WE also appears before the Board of WE Charity twice a year to present the financial vision and ME to WE’s future plans to ensure its long-term growth and successful support of WE Charity projects.

What was the profit of ME to WE in 2017, and how much was donated to WE Charity?

ME to WE’s net profit for 2017 was approximately $1.7 million CAD and the corresponding cash contribution from ME to WE to WE Charity was approximately $1.5 million CAD. Moreover, in 2017, ME to WE also donated approximately $1.5 million in cost-offsetting, in-kind donations to WE Charity.

How does “in-kind” work for WE Charity and WE Day?

As above, ME to WE provided approximately $1.5 million in cost-offsetting “in-kind donations” to WE Charity in 2017. These in-kind contributions include travel, products, leadership training, youth speakers and thousands of hours of work from select ME to WE employees, who are paid by ME to WE and seconded to work on specific WE Charity projects. Each donation of product or service from ME to WE has a commensurate value that WE Charity includes in its budget, which tangibly offsets its expenses.

What does ME to WE do with the revenue that is not donated to WE Charity?

After donating a minimum of 50 percent of all revenues every year to WE Charity, ME to WE invests the balance to grow the social enterprise, like developing additional women’s artisanal cooperatives and destinations for our service trips. For example, ME to WE used funds to build a small beading center in Kenya. Skilled artisans are bussed there from the countryside to work on more intricate pieces, improve their skills and help increase their family income. ME to WE also invests in technology like Track Your Impact, which allows WE Charity to create an ongoing conversation platform with donors, updating them on their projects and building a database of supporters.

What is the role of ME to WE at WE Day?

ME to WE is a proud supporter of WE Day, which operates under WE Charity.

ME to WE has donated hundreds of thousands of hours of paid staff support over the years to help make WE Day a success. We have also provided in-kind and financial contributions to expand the event.

More formally, ME to WE is a key program partner of the event, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, just like other leading sponsors and partners. As such, ME to WE has the opportunity to share its message at WE Day. Without the support of ME to WE, the magic of WE Day would not be possible. We are so proud of the social enterprise’s role in the event and plan to continue to play a critical role in celebrating young people.

How is ME to WE governed?

The day-to-day operations of ME to WE are overseen by its CEO and Executive Director. Oversight and strategic direction are provided by our experienced Board of Directors. The Board in turn receives support and business guidance from an A-list team of advisors.

The legal, governance and financial structures of ME to WE were carefully developed with pro bono support from two of Canada’s top law firms, Torys and Miller Thomson.

Learn more about ME to WE’s leadership.

What is the role of Craig and Marc Kielburger within ME to WE?

Craig and Marc co-founded WE—the family of organizations making doing good doable, made up of WE Charity, WE Day and ME to WE. Craig and Marc work in a volunteer capacity for WE Charity and do not receive any remuneration from WE Charity. Instead, they are employed by ME to WE. Like all team members, their salaries are in line with the Imagine Canada recommendations for charities and social enterprises.

With regards to their role at ME to WE, Craig and Marc are thought-leaders, social entrepreneurs and are often called on to speak about social enterprises.

They are strong role models within our organization and beyond. Craig and Marc were recognized as Canada’s Most Admired CEOs for the Broader Social Sector in 2015 by Waterstone Human Capital.

Why does ME to WE encourage young people, individuals and families to travel and volunteer overseas?

ME to WE Trips enables thousands of young people and hundreds of corporate volunteers to go and experience WE Charity projects firsthand in the developing world. We design ME to WE Trips to connect people to community members and issues in developing communities and inspire future volunteers and donors. These are not traditional volunteer trips because we provide cultural immersion, development issues 101, leadership training and support so that travelers can create an impact upon return.

How do ME to WE products educate consumers about responsible choices to create social change?

ME to WE believes that we can educate young people and their families on how to make a difference with their consumer choices. Consumers effectively “vote” on social and environmental issues by the way they spend their dollars. If we show people that their purchases can be transformational, it sets up a lifetime of enlightened consumer choices. Educating them about the impact of their purchases can make young people and their families keen to buy fair trade, ask how products are made or what labor practices are followed in production.

Furthermore, consumers today are increasingly disconnected from how things are produced. We lose touch with the humanity behind a transaction. On ME to WE Trips to farms in rural Kenya or plantations in Ecuador, participants meet the people behind the products they see on the shelf. Similarly, we connect consumers to the supply chain through Track Your Impact for the products that we make. If we can redirect and re-educate people about their consumer choices, this could be the greatest force for social change ever created. We believe companies will follow if consumers lead.

What is Track Your Impact?

ME to WE used some of its profits to invest in Track Your Impact technology that connects each purchase of a ME to WE product or ME to WE licensed product to a specific social impact.

Track Your Impact attaches an online code to our products that points consumers to the region where an equivalent donation was delivered in a developing country. It’s a sort of geotag for social good; a proof of purpose.

It’s an exciting innovation that transforms a simple purchase into lasting impact overseas. Each time you make a socially conscious purchase with ME to WE, you make an impact through WE Charity’s development model.

How does Track Your Impact work?

Track Your Impact is a mark of authenticity; a way for you to contribute to life-altering change with your everyday choices. Every Track Your Impact product has a code that lets you connect with real change in a WE Villages partner community overseas or in your own backyard. Use your code online to see what your impact is, where you made your impact and read stories that show how all these impacts are transforming lives. Track Your Impact is offered by ME to WE, part of the WE movement, that gives people tools to change the world.

Here are some examples of Track Your Impact products and the change they make:

  • Rafiki bracelet from ME to WE = Financial literacy training for one woman
  • ME to WE Tea from David’s Tea = One month of clean water for one person
  • Select school supplies at Walgreens = Vitamins for a child

When you purchase a Track Your Impact product, you support WE in delivering sustainable change around the world. The impact promised on the item you purchased represents the cost of delivering that impact. Money from each Track Your Impact purchase goes toward building a sustainable WE Charity project. We don’t believe in handouts or in giving something that could be taken away. For example, for a product that promises “Water for a person for one week,” the funds from your purchase may go toward the construction of a clean-water well, which would support an entire community for many years. We say “clean water for one week” because the donation amount attached to that specific purchase represents the cost of delivering water for a week.

How does ME to WE increase social impact through corporate partnerships?

With Track Your Impact, ME to WE made a conscious choice to try to leverage existing retail channels to “piggyback” our message to a customer base. We are so grateful for our retail partners that carry ME to WE Artisans products, ME to WE licensed products and use our Track Your Impact platform.

In the U.S., WE Charity has been able to grow rapidly due to our ME to WE retail partnerships.

Thankfully we can avoid the costs of many large charities that spend tens of millions of dollars annually on their brand building, fundraising and advertising, including traditional media, online ads, street canvases, telemarketers and mass mailings.

ME to WE’s retail partnerships provide tens of millions of in-kind support, allowing our message to reach millions of people through non-traditional avenues.

For example, Nordstrom provides us with hundreds of storefronts and tens of thousands of employees across North America to showcase the development work of WE Charity. Their stores include large displays about WE Charity, and they invest to train their sales associates to speak about WE Charity.

It would cost millions of dollars for WE Charity to pay for storefronts to promote WE Charity’s development work and train employees to answer questions. Each time someone buys a ME to WE socially conscious product, they learn about the work of WE Charity and are promoting a vision of a better world. WE Charity gains revenue from each sale!

You can read more about Track Your Impact here.