Chapter Three - The Halo Effect

In the age of “corporate social responsibility,” giant corporations are tired of looking like the bad guys. Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Allstate Insurance, Hershey's, Teck Mining – these companies were used to being blamed and boycotted. But by donating to WE Charity, they got more than tax benefits - they got a whole new PR strategy. This is the story of how WE turned virtue into a commodity, and sold it to the world’s biggest companies. But at what point does a charity become a marketing firm?

Music by Audio Network


Official responses from The WE Organization:

Canadaland asked WE about the allegation that it promised to inoculate one child every time the WE365 app was downloaded, despite having no plan to connect those two things. The WE Organization responded:

“Given WE Charity’s 20+ year history of supporting medical programs, and with well-documented photos and description of partnership with government health agencies (HERE), and hundreds of global medical practitioners who participated in medical programs, we can confirm with confidence that our vaccine campaigns were successful and that all funds raised for our inoculation programs went directly to helping children as intended.”

Canadaland asked WE about the allegation that it “invented” impact numbers (usage statistics) for the WE365 app. The WE Organization responded with this answer about the app’s download numbers:

“The WE365 app and its impact were clearly tracked and measured - to suggest otherwise would be false. There was nothing subjective about it. When someone downloaded the app and became a user, the information was tracked by the APP store. The TELUS team, who were very hands on in the program deliverables, also had direct access to all of the data. There would be no reason or means for anyone to “invent” anything.”

With regards to child labour, WE Charity has said:

“WE Charity’s commitment to ending child labour is evident and beyond reproach based on more than 20 years of dedication to working with the poorest children and families around the world.”

When asked about its partnerships, the WE Organization has said:


“We recognize that no company is ‘perfect,’ but we take a 360-analysis to determine the overall socially responsible practices of the business. We take our vetting process seriously and have frequently declined/halted pursuit of partnerships because they do not align with our values… We are dedicated to adhering to our strict vetting process, even in cases where the opportunity cost has been millions of dollars.”

The WE Charity story, according to WE:

WE Charity’s responses to Canadaland’s questions:

2018 investigation:

2019 investigation:

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