Behind the numbers: Bringing our results to life

By Sara Oates, Vice President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer, WWF-Canada
Check out WWF’s financial results in our 2012 Annual Report. For more on this and some great conservation success stories, visit
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the numbers speak for themselves.” After 20 years as an accountant, I can promise you that is rarely the case. When it comes to financial results, it’s not only the numbers that tell the story. Their context and how we delivered those numbers is equally important, equally valuable to you—our supporter—in seeing what it means to invest in WWF.

WWF-Canada – Financial Reporting Overview:

Here’s an example. In 2012, WWF’s revenue increased by four per cent from the previous year, totalling $23.7 million. That’s interesting, encouraging even. However,what’s even more interesting and encouraging is that more than half of that revenue (53%) came from individual donors—people making their annual contribution, monthly donors, folks who gave to us for the first time. While WWF values contributions from all our supporters, individual donors are special. Cultivating a wide base of “people” support is an investment in our organization’s stability, but it is also mission-critical. A new donor is a new voice for nature, a new advocate for key issues, a new commitment to environmental action in everyday life. It’s with the support of more than 150,000 people behind us that WWF wields the power to drive change.

Where does WWF-Canada’s funding come from?

Here’s another example. Of our total revenue in 2012, 23 per cent was spent on fundraising—an increase of two per cent from the previous year. An organization’s fundraising ratio is one indicator of how efficient it is with donor dollars and is worth understanding. Again, the numbers tell only part of the story. Fundraising ratios in most large organizations vary slightly from year to year, impacted by revenue variations and changes in fundraising strategies. Last year’s increase at WWF was largely the result of our first Canadian Panda Ball, a major fundraising and profile-raising event. Investing in our first gala was an important and successful organizational decision—one that enabled us to bring profile to environmental leaders, at a time when that leadership was most needed, and that sparked meaningful philanthropic relationships. As with our conservation work, WWF approaches fundraising with a long view, building the required foundation for the transformative work ahead.

Where do WWF-Canada’s conservation dollars go?

And speaking of conservation, here is another number worth exploring. Last year, WWF was able to increase our investment in conservation work from 70 per cent of revenues in the prior year to 74 per cent in 2012—putting $17.5 million into projects geared to tackle the greatest challenges of our time: in our transforming Arctic, our three great oceans, our living rivers, our changing climate, and our green energy potential. These are issues that matter profoundly to Canadian donors, who contributed 85 per cent of our total revenue last year. However, we also know that this work impacts and resonates with our global community, which contributed $3.5 million to our work last year both directly (5%) and through our WWF family (10%).
At WWF, we’re proud of our numbers this year. But we are even prouder of what is behind them. A sound foundation for the growth of our organization. A strong investment in the future of our planet. And, most of all, you.