Frequently Asked Questions

Free The Children’s vision for sustainable change is reflected in everything we do—and our fundraising model is no exception. By honoring every donation, from creative coin drives led by students to corporate partnerships, we have an industry-leading policy of financial responsibility that ensures all contributions are spent effectively, to create meaningful change.

Free The Children spends, on average, 40% of annual funds initiating and supporting international development programs. The organization has been widely recognized for its sustainable, scalable development model called Adopt a Village. International project expenses include direct cash and in-kind contributions.

Direct funding is often spent on building schools, providing water programs or paying for a community garden to ensure children have healthy food to eat at lunch. The development programs are administered on a multi-year basis and include program development, capacity building as well as specific capital investments in the communities. Free The Children’s international work would not be possible without critical in-kind contributions, the majority of which are medical and school supplies collected, distributed and administered according to our development model.

Approximately 10% of annual funding is spent on non-project-related costs associated with the management of the organization, including human resources functions, accounting and office supplies.
On average, approximately 50% of annual funding supports domestic programming, from We Schools campaigns to educational resources, working with youth, schools, families and corporations.

Free The Children is audited annually. An experienced, volunteer Board of Directors oversees the work of Free The Children, which includes setting policies and procedures, as well as monitoring our budget and expenses to ensure funds are spent wisely.

Adopt a Village is an adaptive, effective and sustainable development model built on five pillars: Education; Clean Water and Sanitation; Health; Alternative Income and Livelihood; and Agriculture and Food Security. Currently, we work in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Kenya, India and rural China.

All the prices provided in this website represent average costs in all the countries where Free The Children works. These prices are a general guide for our donors, who may choose to contribute to one or more components of the Adopt a Village model. In order to maintain our very low administrative rate we do not provide country specific cost breakdowns.

Some of the average costs for our projects are:

Project Average Price
Can buy a school kit for a child or plant ten trees in a school $25
Can provide a health kit for two children or buy a goat for a family $50
Can grant a loan for a woman to start a small business or provide clean water for a family $100
Can provide a six month lunch program for a school or provide furniture and textbooks for a school $500
Can provide teacher training programs in communities $1,000
Can build a community well $5,000
Can build a school or a school room * $10,000

*Provides for one classroom at a school—construction design varies depending on country—may consist of one-room schoolhouses, schoolroom or multi-classroom blocks.

The suggested donation amounts are based on the average costs in the countries in which we operate and within the variety of needs within Free The Children’s five program areas.

In cases where donations exceed what is needed or local conditions prevent program implementation, Free The Children will redirect funds to similar activities to help people in need after getting approval from donors. If additional funding is required because of specific project requirements or challenging local conditions, Free The Children may provide additional funding to complete the project to meet our commitment to our beneficiaries. In all cases, we commit that your donation will be used to achieve the highest impact possible.

When a donation is made to build a school, depending on the needs on the ground, it is used to help build a school, support education projects and/or towards the overall development and long-term sustainability of the community.

As a valued donor, you will be assigned to a community you have helped to support and be provided with updates from the field.

On average, at least 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to support our projects and programs—less than 10% of money raised is spent on administration.

Free The Children works diligently to ensure that donations are used effectively and efficiently. We want as much of our funding as possible to support programs that empower children in the developed and developing worlds. To that end, unlike other non-profit organizations:

  • We don’t employ third-party fundraising organizations to solicit money on our behalf.
  • We don’t do direct mail campaigns to solicit new donors.
  • We don’t use telemarketers.
  • We don’t hire high priced fundraising consultants.
  • We don’t produce or pay for television commercials or pay TV networks to air our programming to solicit donations.
  • Me to We, our social enterprise partner, supports the work of Free the Children through cash and in-kind donations. Me to We donates at least 50% of net profit after taxes to Free The Children, supporting the administration costs of the charity while re-investing the other half to ensure sustainability.

Free The Children is further able to keep its administrative costs as low as possible through remarkable partners who provide us with valuable in-kind services.

  • KPMG – Professional services
  • Torys Law Firm – Legal services
  • Xerox Canada – Business solutions services
  • DHL – Logistics and shipping partner
  • Universal McCann – Agency of Record

We are audited every year in Canada, the United States and the UK by an independent third party auditing and accounting firm. Every year, Free The Children has received an unqualified audit rating, which is the highest possible rating for such a report. It is a “clean opinion”. This means that our auditors have found no questions or concerns about our financial accountability and transparency, and have fully vetted our donor information.

Free The Children is a registered charity in Canada and the United States.

Free The Children Canada Tax ID: 88657 8095 RR0001

Free The Children United States Tax ID: 501 (c)(3)-16-1533544

Free The Children United Kingdom Register Charity Number: 1138645

Independent third parties have validated our administrative efficiency, program effectiveness and overall excellence.>

Charity Intelligence Canada awarded (2013) Free The Children its highest four-star rating, along with an A for our social impact reporting.

MoneySense magazine’s 2015 Charity 100 gave Free The Children an A grade, including an A for efficiency and money spent on programming, an A for fundraising costs, and an A+ for governance.

Free The Children has received Charity Navigator U.S.’s highest rating of four stars for financial accountability and transparency—an honor bestowed on fewer than 2% of registered U.S. charities.

Free The Children is able to provide a tax receipt for any donation over $10 in the following countries: Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

For more information contact:

Victor Li, CPA, CGA

Chief Financial Officer


Phone: 1.416.925.5894 ext. 102

On average, 27% of Free The Children’s funding comes from direct contributions and in-kind support generated by young people, from bake sales, to walk-a-thons, garage sales and coin drives. The remainder of our funding comes from: adults (11%), corporations (37%) foundations (21%) and government (3%).

Two types of in-kind donations help Free The Children projects overseas: the donation of school and health kits and the donation of medical supplies.

Free The Children collects donated school and health supplies from schools in North America which can be readily brought over to the countries in which the organization’s Adopt a Village model is active. To date Free The Children has collected, sent and distributed over $25 million in medical supplies. School and health kits provide, for example, pencils, pens, notebooks, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap to allow children to both attend school and be healthy at home.

One of our core values is honouring every stakeholder and we adhere to that value by being fully transparent in all our operations. When you donate to our international projects, you will receive periodic updates on the impact of your support. In addition, you will gain access to our online microsites page so that you can track updates from the country and community of your interest.