- Trusted: For our track record, regular audits and tight financial controls.
- Impactful: In helping more children break free from poverty than any other organization.
- Accountable: To you, our Board, our charity partners and regulatory bodies, and the children, families and communities we partner with.
There are all kinds of reasons to trust World Vision, but let's focus on the three that our donors tell us are the most important to them: trust, impact and accountability.
More people sponsor children through World Vision than any other child sponsorship organization in Canada. And we're pleased that the number of Canadians choosing to donate, advocate or volunteer through World Vision continues to be strong.
Here in Canada, we have tight financial controls and procedures in place, and carefully review all expenses every month. Both in Canada and overseas, World Vision offices are audited regularly. KPMG, an independent Canadian accounting and audit firm, audits World Vision Canada's finances annually, and we make the signed, audited statement available to you.
World Vision helps more children break free from poverty than any other child sponsorship organization in Canada. Through more than 50 years of sponsorship, we've learned that the best way to improve the lives of children is to improve their communities. We work with children, families and local community leaders to find long-term solutions to poverty and injustice.
Your monthly donation has maximum value when we combine it with the gifts of almost half a million other Canadian sponsors to help your child and hundreds of thousands of other children too.
Because World Vision is a widely respected global organization, we are a voice for children with governments, and with world bodies such as the UN, the G8 and the G20. And because we have offices all over the world, we are well-positioned to spring into action when disasters like earthquakes and typhoons strike.
For us, accountability is not just about compliance – it's about communication. You've trusted us with your gifts, and we're excited to tell you how we've put them to work. You are our partners in ending child poverty, and we want to report to you in detail. Our high standards for financial reporting earned us the prestigious Voluntary Sector Reporting Award for Financial Reporting Excellence for three years running (2009, 2010 and 2011) from Queen's School of Business and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. In fact we were further honoured with an “Exemplar” award in recognition of these three consecutive years, and are now no longer eligible for consideration!
We're accountable to an independent Board of Directors, a group of esteemed professionals who volunteers their time and brings considerable expertise in the private, public or non-profit sectors. As donors themselves, our directors have a personal stake in the effectiveness of World Vision's work. We welcome their review of our reports, plans and monthly financial statements, just one of the ways they help us become even more effective.
We're accountable to our partner agencies such as the World Food Programme and Global Affairs Canada (formerly Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development). These agencies require that all grant funding recipients follow strict reporting procedures. In the financial year 2016, we received and put to work $69 million in grants from these and other partner agencies.
We're also accountable to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), to which all registered charities must file an annual return. This return must meet certain requirements of the Income Tax Act concerning our expenditures and activities. A portion of the return is automatically available to you on the websites of the CRA and World Vision Canada. But we're pleased to go further than is required, for example, by offering detailed information about our president's compensation package.
- We constantly learn and adapt to do our utmost for children.
- We track our results and evaluate our programs.
- We welcome evaluations from external monitoring groups.
Our programs are designed to do the utmost for children with every dollar you donate. We’re meticulous and thorough, not just in the design of our programs and strategies, but also in the regular review of our approaches. We’re always learning from:
- other colleagues across the global World Vision partnership
- other organizations we partner with
- the children and families we work with
- advances in the international development community
An example of responsible learning:
Re-inventing the wheel can be both costly and inefficient. Through years of experience in communities overseas, we’ve learned that some of our best opportunities for children lie in building on systems that are already in place. Partnering with local governments is a powerful way to strengthen the capacity of their systems in areas like health or agriculture.
Here's an example: We recently completed the fourth year of the SATISFY (Systems Approach to Improve and Sustain Food Security) project in West Africa. We worked to improve food security in West Africa, where El Nino weather patterns have drastically increased the chance of drought.
Parents in this region work tirelessly to nourish their children. Until recently though, they’ve been using traditional, labour-intensive farming methods that yield few crops. Without meaning to, farmers have been stripping the soil of fertility and adding to erosion. When you factor in poor storage methods and basic dirt roads, very little of farmers’ produce makes it to market.
With the support of a grant from Global Affairs Canada, we joined with local Ministries of Agriculture and Health in four countries: Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. We worked hard to ensure that local community leaders and traditional leaders were involved in the planning. We also worked with an equal representation of women and men.
The result is partnerships so rich in expertise, insight and experience that together:
- We improved food security for more than 48,000 people over a four-year period in the four participating countries.
- We rejoiced that farmers’ confidence in their ability to maximize their crops increased from 23% at the beginning of the project to 85%.
- We established 351 savings groups, linking them with local banks so families could invest in ventures beyond farming, like honey production.
- We have trained 9,043 parents and other caregivers on how to improve children’s nutrition, providing diets rich in essential nutrients like Vitamin A, zinc, iron and iodine.
Through these partnerships, World Vision has built the capacity of local governments to provide more effectively for children and families – not just for the moment, but also for the long term.
Our evaluation tools:
When it comes to helping children, we’re never content with “good enough.” We’re constantly learning, developing, assessing and refining our work to do a better job for the children we serve.
One of the tools we use to do this is LEAP – Learning, Evaluation, Accountability and Planning. This approach allows World Vision to design, monitor and evaluate our programs. We collect data on our programs, noting and recording statistics that reflect the impact of our programs on children’s lives.
Here are some examples of the things we track:
- children’s growth rates, in response to our nutrition programs
- children’s reading and writing abilities, in response to our education programs
- children’s decrease in waterborne illness, in response to our water programs
The information we gather at World Vision Canada is synthesized with learnings from across the World Vision global partnership, and is carefully analyzed by experts in areas like nutrition and education. What worked and what didn’t? Why or why not? We apply these lessons learned to communities around the world. Using this approach, we build on our successes and respond to challenges, so that we are continually improving.
We also conduct research studies to help us further fine-tune our approaches. Take our child sponsorship development model. World Vision is participating in a Child Sponsorship Research Project in partnership with a group of universities. We want to learn as much as we can about the effectiveness of our community-based approach in improving the well-being of children.
The project is ongoing, but early results have shown both areas of strength and areas where we could improve. Here are some early findings:
- Child well-being outcomes were positive for all the programs evaluated.
- Community feedback highlighted the positive ways that children and communities have benefitted from our programs.
- The vast majority of child sponsors find sponsorship to be a rewarding experience.
- World Vision can do even more to improve community participation and work with local partners.
Our monitoring groups:
In addition to constantly monitoring and improving our work from the inside, we welcome evaluations from the outside. Our independent Board of Directors is just one of the groups ensuring that we use your gifts wisely to do the utmost for children, and that we’re both responsible and transparent as we report back to you. We are also accredited by Imagine Canada’s prestigious Standards Program, the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.
- We partner with children and families to help ensure they thrive and reach their full potential.
- Communities are prepared to care for children’s well-being even after we’re gone.
- Our approach benefits all children in a community, not just those who are sponsored.
We’ve learned that the best way to help individual children is to change the world in which they live. We combine your donation with gifts from other Canadians, with a goal of improving the entire community. Working alongside parents and community leaders, you help them to provide necessities like nutritious food, safe water, education and healthcare – not just for your sponsored child but for all children living there. It's not a simple process, and it takes time.
We are constantly learning from the communities we partner with, and looking for ways to make our work even more effective. We don’t always get it right the first time. Yet every partnership experience confirms for us that sponsorship is a uniquely powerful way to help improve children's lives. See some examples.
After your sponsored child's community has become independent, children will continue to benefit from the results of your gifts. And here's one of the best things: because sponsorship brings lasting change to a community, future generations will also benefit. In sponsored communities, we work hard so that:
- Parents have the power to provide children with food, clean water, education and healthcare.
- Families are meeting shared needs, with activities like forming community gardens, starting businesses, and caring for orphans and vulnerable children.
- Communities have learned to advocate with local governments, holding them accountable for promises like providing teachers and doctors.
- We are first-responders in emergencies, and help communities rebuild afterward.
- We teach children their rights and advocate for them in the halls of power.
- We support and champion children living in the world’s toughest places.
While child sponsorship is at the core of our work, we care for children and their families in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:
Responding to emergencies:
When a humanitarian emergency strikes, World Vision is often one of the first to arrive and the last to leave. Because we have staff on the ground in nearly 100 countries, we are poised to respond to typhoons, floods, earthquakes and civil conflict, quickly providing life-saving assistance. And because of our long-term commitment to the well-being of children, we often stay longer than most organizations, to help communities return to a healthy, sustainable state. Learn about our Emergency Relief work this year.
Advocating for children:
We advocate for children on many levels: within their own communities, right up to the halls of global power. In international forums, where world leaders make major decisions, it's easy to overlook the world's smallest and most vulnerable people. World Vision is there to champion the needs of children, whether we're speaking to large private companies, national governments, world leaders or world bodies such as the UN or the G8. Learn about our Advocacy work this year.
Championing children in fragile regions:
In the world’s toughest places, more traditional community development work – like sponsorship – is often impossible. In parts of Somalia, South Sudan or Syria, for instance, life is turbulent, unpredictable and often very dangerous.
Yet children in these places badly need our help. Through initiatives like Raw Hope, we develop innovative, flexible, situation-specific programming to meet children where they are. We speak up for these children and their needs, through the media and with governments and world bodies. And we keep you apprised of their situations, offering ways to help.
- We improve life for the child, her family and her peers.
- Sponsorship brings access to things like healthcare and education.
- We constantly evaluate our work in the community, adapting as needed.
It would be impossible to help your sponsored child in a lasting way without also helping her family and her peers. Here are a few of the things that sponsorship helps provide, depending on the needs in a child’s community:
- improved local healthcare
- trained school teachers
- stocked classrooms
- boreholes providing clean water
- more effective community groups that work better together to care for children
- better nutrition through training and improved farming techniques
Making these things happen requires that World Vision’s teams learn, plan and work closely with communities. This change is not restricted to the families of sponsored children; the entire community benefits from the partnership.
- Ensuring children who live in fragile contexts are high on Canada’s agenda.
- Being responsive to urbanization and children’s needs in cities.
- A changing donor landscape that includes increased competition.
Prioritizing children in fragile contexts:
Canadian funding is doing some remarkable things to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases around the globe. However, ambitious goals require ambitious financing. Current spending does not fully reflect Canada’s generous nature.
Canada is ranked 14th on the list of 28 major donor countries and Canadian contributions are actually below average. This is especially worrisome when you consider that children living in the world’s toughest places – including Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia – are not receiving sufficient help from their own governments.
That said, we’ve seen some encouraging signs. Soon after assuming power, Prime Minister Trudeau provided an encouraging tone, signalling Canadian resolve to do its part to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a path to ending global extreme poverty. We welcomed the government’s prioritization of women and girls in particular, as an effective approach to humanitarian and development assistance.
World Vision also had the opportunity to make some strong contributions to Canada’s International Assistance Review designed to help guide the future direction of Canadian foreign aid. We also shared the voice of our supporters who called for Canadian leadership in helping the world’s most vulnerable people in the world’s toughest places. This is reflective of Canadian public opinion gathered from polls and the data from other organizations. Canadians are letting us know they want “more Canada” in the world.
Through a campaign called #MoreCanada, World Vision is encouraging Canadian global leadership by asking our government to increase our foreign aid commitments – with a particular focus on health. We’re asking that Canada:
- commit to doubling its foreign aid over the next 10 years to help end global poverty
- place a greater priority on fragile contexts where global poverty is concentrated
What’s our new challenge moving forward? To continue to shape Canada’s commitments – as well as public opinion and engagement – towards providing help where it’s needed. We must keep the Sustainable Development Goals in our sites, and help to end global poverty by 2030.
Responding to urbanization:
It’s projected that, by 2030, 60% of the global population will be urban. World Vision’s development work has historically been strongest in rural areas, so we need to work hard to learn how to meet the needs of children in urban areas who are facing issues like gang violence. We are already doing good work in 31 different area development programs, in urban centres around the world. Our teams on the ground share information and learnings with others across the World Vision partnership, who are also working in urban communities. We also need to educate Canadians on the importance of sponsoring children in cities, not just the countryside.
Increase in urban disasters and conflicts:
World Vision is very strong in our ability to respond to natural disasters in predominantly rural areas. We have more to learn when it comes to meeting children’s needs in urban disasters or conflict situations like civil wars. In the Syrian crisis, for example, the majority of Syrian refugees have settled in host urban cities, particularly in Lebanon or Jordan. The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan has become an urban hub in itself and is viewed as the country’s fourth largest “city.”
Recognizing this, we’re expanding our thinking and planning in the following directions:
- We have developed a new strategy for improving emergency response to children in urban areas where conflict is prevalent, or where governments either cannot or will not help provide for basic needs. It’s also a platform from which we learn what works best in urban emergency response, and test new ways of working to improve care for the people we serve in these areas.
- We recognize that 77% of school-aged children not enrolled in primary school live in unstable or conflict-ridden areas of the world and that 1.5 billion people live without the basics they need to survive, so we are working to ensure that our approach is the best it can be to effect change in these areas.
- Our Raw Hope initiative offers a way for Canadians to help meet the needs of children and their families in these unstable or conflict-ridden areas by giving regular monthly donations to support our humanitarian work in countries such as Afghanistan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria.
Natural disasters, climate change and drought have had devastating effects on development programs in many places where World Vision works, sometimes reversing years of progress. Our teams need to make disaster preparedness and response a bigger part of our program plans. Yet it's challenging to figure out where to spend precious resources in a way that not only helps children survive an environmental disaster, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but also readies their families for the next one.
There has been a downward trend in the proportion of Canadians donating to charities. The monthly Index of Consumer Confidence – an indicator of Canadians' measure of their financial positions – continues to fluctuate in response to national and global economic uncertainty.
Canada’s population is aging, and this trend will continue in the coming years. In its latest reported data, Statistics Canada noted that, for the first time ever, there are more people in Canada who are 65 and older than those who are younger than 15. Many of our long-time supporters are already retired and living on limited incomes. Over the next two decades, the proportion of seniors is predicted to grow rapidly, as baby boomers retire from work.
More charitable choices:
There are now more charities in Canada than ever before, and many are reaching out to you for your support. There are more than 170,000 charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada, 85,000 of which are registered with the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency. What this means is that the cost of effective fundraising is also increasing, making it a challenge to balance the need to invite Canadians to contribute to the cause against the need to be good stewards of donations.