Growing as Social Entrepreneurs (2009–2014) With more charities competing for fewer donor dollars, we realized that we needed a new financial model to support the long-term charitable goals of WE Charity, as well as crucial behind-the-scenes needs that few wanted to fund, such as administration, research, and monitoring and evaluation activities. That’s when we launched ME to WE, which offers sustainable products and life-changing experiences that have forever transformed the way consumers shop, travel and learn. And ME to WE helps sustain WE Charity. The funds that ME to WE donates to WE Charity enable it to have an extremely low administration rate (around 10 percent) compared to other Canadian charities. By adding the social enterprise to our organization, our impact continued to scale. By 2014, WE’s staff had significantly increased, with the number of full-time employees growing to 370 in Canada alone. The composition of staff was changing, too, as specialists accustomed to working with governments and corporations came on board. In order to ensure everyone was on the same page, we both increased levels of management and introduced a rigorous annual planning process. Both of these together allowed us to communicate goals for the year ahead—for the organization as whole, as well as for our teams.
Support for employees D D Professional and personal development opportunities allow young staff to “grow up” within the organization. D D Rigorous new annual planning process gives managers and their teams a framework for prioritizing and mapping out their work for the year ahead, providing clear expectations and definitions of success. D D Biennial Staff Trip gives employees from all departments the chance visit ME to WE immersive travel destinations in Kenya, India and Ecuador. While enjoying vacation time, they get to see up close the impact WE has made in developing communities. D D New staff perks: an extra day off on your birthday (2010) and whole-office shutdown over the winter holiday (2011). D D The organization’s first CRM helps employees work more efficiently and saves labor.
Milestones D WE’s Adopt a Village (now WE Villages) sustainable development model is creating impact in partnership with communities in eight countries. D D WE’s Baraka Health Clinic begins serving some 30,000 community members in the Maasai Mara. It’s one of the only health clinics in the region. D D Continued growth of WE Day with expansion into 10 regions. D D ME to WE, the social enterprise arm of the organization, launches in 2009 to provide sustainable funding for the WE Charity. D D ME to WE Artisans program is created, providing sustainable economic opportunity for 550 Kenyan women.
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