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PLAN International CANADA

Three girls hugging Three girls hugging



This was a milestone year for Plan International Canada. We launched 20 Million Reasons, our new strategy that’s igniting a movement in Canada, one that unleashes the multiplying power of girls to end child inequality.

We call it 20 Million Reasons because we’re committed to helping 20 million children, especially girls, to realize their rights. By unlocking the potential of girls, we unleash the power of an entire generation to change the world for all children.

I want to thank our partners and donors, on behalf of the children we work with. Your commitment is transforming communities and championing girls’ rights around the world.

I’d also like to thank Board Chair Patsy Anderson for her leadership and support as we developed the strategy. And I’d like to recognize our entire staff and Board, whose dedication, ingenuity and passion continue to inspire me.

Together, we’ll help 20 million children, especially girls, to learn, lead, decide and thrive.

Caroline Riseboro signature

Caroline Riseboro

Patsy in the field

Chair’s message

I was honoured to take up the position of Board Chair on Plan International Canada’s Board of Directors earlier this year, particularly at such a pivotal moment for the organization. In the spring, we approved 20 Million Reasons, a 5-year strategy that maps out an ambitious new course for Plan International Canada, and aligns with Plan offices around the world.

This new strategy lays out key priorities, and helps to focus collective efforts on activities that will strengthen the organization and its overall impact on every level.

We’re already starting to see the strategy come to life, thanks to Caroline’s courageous leadership and the hard work and dedication of the Plan team. As you’ll see in this report, it’s been an extremely exciting year. With 20 Million Reasons motivating the organization over the next 4 years, I am confident that there are even more remarkable achievements just around the corner.

Patsy Anderson Signature

Patsy Anderson

2017 Accomplishments

Here are the highlights of what Plan International’s supporters around the world made possible in 2017.

2016 accomplishment chart

Financial overview

Plan International Canada ensures that a maximum amount of money goes to programs that directly benefit children, keeping administrative costs low and program spending high. The costs of fundraising and operations are at an average of 18 cents of each dollar raised, with the remaining 82 cents of every dollar going to programs that benefit children, as well as their families and communities.

Total revenue over the past five years (in $ millions)

Revenue by Fiscal Year
2017   222.9
2016   210.5
2015   202.6
2014   170.8
2013   166.5
50 100 150 200 250
$ million
Over the past five years,
revenue has grown by:

Revenue sources for 2017

 Child sponsorship 34%
 Government & other grants 40%
 Gifts in kind 15%
 Contributions, gifts & bequests 11%
 Investments & other income <1%
Total revenue: $222.9 million


 Program expenditures 82%
 Fundraising 11%
 Operations 7%
Total expenditures: $222.9 million

Program expenditures

 Maternal & child newborn health and development 32%
 Emergencies and food assistance 24%
 Education 16%
 Economic security 5%
 Water and sanitation 5%
 Child protection 4%
 Sponsorship and programmatic communications 1%
 Child participation 2%
 Sexual and reproductive health 11%
Program expenditures – 82% of total expenditures

How donations reach communities

Plan International pools child sponsorship contributions and sends them to community development projects that benefit children. Designated contributions, such as major financial donations and Gifts of Hope, go to the project chosen by the donor and are managed by Plan International. In all cases, Plan International funds projects developed with community members, including projects for new wells, schools, health clinics, emergency relief and projects for starting small businesses. We do whatever is needed to create a sustainable environment in which children, families and communities can thrive.

World map of How donations reach communities

Canadian Highlights

Madame Trudeau with a group of young girls

Girls take the lead on International Day of the Girl

To mark the fifth International Day of the Girl on October 11, 2016, girls from across Canada and around the world raised their voices to speak up for their right to equal opportunities. As part of Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here initiative, a group of young women challenged their local and national leaders to support girls’ empowerment, illustrating that girls belong in positions that lead, decide and make a difference. They stepped into the roles of numerous Canadian leaders for a day, including government ministers and Members of Parliament. More than 250 leaders in 50 countries participated in the global movement to demonstrate that girls everywhere have the right to be seen, heard and respected. In Canada, prominent women leaders and champions of gender equality, including Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and the Honourable Rona Ambrose, also joined key events to celebrate girls’ power and potential.

Spread the Net Student Challenge raised $150,000 last year

Once again, students across Canada participated in “Spread the Net,” an annual, nation-wide school competition that raises money for life-saving, anti-malarial bed nets for African countries with the highest rates of malaria mortality. “There are children in need,” says Victoria, a grade 5 student. “Many children are affected. If we are able to make a difference and give money, we should.” Each year, malaria kills an estimated 438,000 people and is a leading cause of death in children under five in Africa, taking the life of a child every two minutes. Since 2007, “Spread the Net” has helped to protect the lives of more than 41 million people, thanks to the distribution of 19 million bed nets. Last year, 60 schools raised $150,000, which impacted the lives of over 30,000 people. The winning schools were Beaverly Elementary in Prince George, BC; Father Mercredi High School in Fort McMurray, AB; and Langara College in Vancouver, BC.

Membership in Speakers Bureau jumps to 300+ as youth speak out

Plan International Canada, generously supported by RBC, leads the Speakers Bureau, a network of 300 young people from across Canada. The members, who are 14 to 24 years old, have different reasons for joining, but all are passionate about advancing gender equality and girls’ rights. “I want to elevate the voices of girls and how we talk about feminism as beneficial to all genders,” says Kishon, a participant. “I joined the Speakers Bureau to combine my passion for public speaking and social justice to help inspire and motivate young minds,” Amy says. Members like them meet monthly at workshops led by experts, learning more about the is sues girls face locally and globally and taking action to present these issues to their communities. Canadian students need an opportunity to voice their concerns about gender inequality and to discuss what to do about it. As one member, Tiffany, puts it, “It is my opportunity to speak out.”

“We are going to change the world”

Twenty young Canadians in our Speakers Bureau attended a three-day training to increase their knowledge of maternal, newborn and child health, especially related to gender inequality and sexual and reproductive rights. They also created action plans to educate members in their communities about Plan’s work and learned more about their capacities to empower others. “I learned a little bit more about the importance and value of my own voice,” says one participant. “Even though I have so much to learn, I have a lot to share too.” She’s one of many youth who give presentations and lead awareness-raising about Strengthening Health Outcomes for Women and Children (SHOW), a program in partnership with Global Affairs Canada that’s aimed at reaching three million people in five countries. After participating in the training and joining the team, a youth commented: “I will remember feeling amazing about myself and just wholeheartedly believing that we are going to change the world.”

International Highlights

Karen Jackson

Emergency: Helping Syrian children who fled to Egypt

In 2017, more than 100,000 Syrian refugees were registered with the United Nations in Egypt. The children among them live with their families in host communities and are trying to integrate into Egyptian schools, which have different practices, school curricula and use a different dialect. The refugees fled from Syria’s wars with next to nothing, and they receive little support for integrating into schools. To help them to adapt, Global Affairs Canada and Plan International launched the “Education in Harmony” project for vulnerable school-aged children from Syria and Egypt. So far, 37 schools have received classroom furniture and supplies, as well as water and sanitation improvements. In addition, 260 classrooms were repaired, while 17,170 children received vouchers for school kits and 746 students participated in remedial classes. Also, 620 teachers completed training, with approximately 80 per cent of them demonstrating improved knowledge in delivering gender- and conflict-sensitive curricula.

Children get healthier after drinking-water project

The Volta River watershed has provided food, irrigation and transportation routes for communities in Ghana for centuries. However, one thing it’s not good for is drinking water. Unfortunately, the community of Volta had no other option. “We were drinking from the lake, which was polluted, with people bathing in it and animals also drinking from it,” said David, a local community member. “Our children were often falling sick.” With the support of Plan International Canada, the community wanted to dig wells as an alternative but discovered that the groundwater was too salty. Refusing to give up, David and his neighbours extended a six-kilometer pipe system into their town, bringing fresh water to 300 families. The community also installed six, 5,000-litre water reservoirs in high-traffic areas in the community. Already, people have noticed an improvement in health, as well as a reduction in the prevalence of bilharzia, a dangerous disease. Children are getting healthier.

Projects in Bolivia saves children’s lives

High rates of illness and mortality are staggering in Bolivia. Mothers and children in rural areas get sick or die more than women and children in other regions of South America. Disease, poor hygiene, unclean drinking water and lack of access to health clinics are only a few of the problems. The solution? Plan International Canada worked with communities in 25 municipalities to launch 'CAMINAS' (an acronym for the Spanish name of the six-year project). More than 36,000 women and 22,000 boys and girls have benefitted from the project. And nearly 3,500 health professionals and 950 municipal public servants were trained in health policy and participatory planning, as well as trained about improving food security and nutrition and supplying water-and-sanitation services. As a result, illness and death has decreased for tens of thousands of people in Bolivia.

Young women start SaniMart, a feminine-hygiene business

Recently, surveys in Bangladesh found that 80 per cent of adolescents and women use old cloths as sanitary pads during menstruation. “Most women in our village are not comfortable buying sanitary napkins from stores,” explained Lucky, a female entrepreneur. “The salespeople are male, which causes embarrassment among the women.” In Bangladesh, uneven gender norms and cultural taboos around menstruation continue to oppress women and girls, exposing them to health risks and putting them at a disadvantage, including when they try to buy hygiene products. With support from Plan International and UNICEF, Lucky and 15 teenagers began a small business that now makes 4,000 sanitary pads each month. They sell them to 160 schools, pharmacies, clinics and shops, and they increase awareness about hygiene. “We are hopeful that one day our small initiatives will turn into a large enterprise,” Lucky said. We hope so, too, because of the health and socioeconomic benefits for women in her region.

Girl holding up a girls are not brides sign

Child brides? Wedding Busters help girls avoid forced marriages

Anna* didn’t want to get married before the age of 18 – she wanted to continue her education – but her parents had other ideas. This is common in parts of Bangladesh, where more than half of women marry before the age of 18. Anna confided to a teacher and the local Wedding Buster group. “My teachers and Wedding Busters came to our home and had a big discussion with my parents,” she says. They convinced everyone to put off marriage plans, and Anna continued classes. Child marriage robs girls of their childhoods, hinders access to livelihood opportunities, threatens their health, and increases the risk of gender-based violence. Plan International has supported 28 Wedding Buster groups as a way to engage youth to prevent child marriages in their communities.

Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Malawi recently established 18 as the minimum age for marriage. Click here to learn more.

*Not her real name

Equality + education = More girls in school

In Mali, only 70 per cent of children are enrolled in school, and, as in many other impoverished regions, more girls than boys are left behind: only 20 per cent of Malian women can read and write, compared to 43 per cent of men. A few years ago, Plan International Canada teamed up with the Government of Canada and a consortium of non-governmental organizations to launch a large education project. Now, we’re happy to report that 279 classrooms have been constructed or rehabilitated, including clean drinking-water systems, washrooms and nearly 120 canteens that provide healthy meals to more than 30,000 students. And the barriers preventing girls from completing their education are falling, thanks to teacher training about gender equality, the cooperation of local leaders, and a series of radio campaigns and other community activities that raised awareness about equality and education.

Child participation: Radio programs amplify girls’ voices

Over the course of our community sponsorship in Volta, Ghana, 1,650 youth in 33 schools have participated in 'Rights of the Child' clubs, which are devoted to literacy, radio dramas and other child-run initiatives. Plan International Canada believes that ending gender inequality means not only improving poor conditions faced by girls and but improving their social positions as well. Being free to voice their opinions in public is one way. For example, Anita learned how to read at her club. Shine helps to run a radio program at another. Peace, a club supervisor, has been amazed at her club’s growth: “Through dramas, reading competitions and games, the club has become more active.” In particular, with an audience of 10,000 local listeners, the clubs’ radio programs allow children to speak about issues that matter to them. “Efforts are making an impact,” Shine said.

Youth Empowerment and Employment

In Burkina Faso, 65 per cent of the population is less than 25 years of age, with studies showing that only one quarter of them will likely find stable employment over the next decade. To improve their job prospects, Plan International Canada collaborated with the IAMGOLD mining company and the Government of Canada to increase vocational-skills development and employment opportunities. After six years, the project improved the infrastructure and curricula of 24 technical centres for more than 2,900 youth, a large increase in enrolment. Also, in year five alone, a further 107 youth said they found employment, with another 373 enrolling in internships and 330 participating in job fairs. However, one of the greatest successes has been building and rehabilitating 13 technical centres, which have electricity, clean-water facilities, daycares and qualified teachers for woodworking, plumbing, metal-work, mechanics, sewing and other courses.

Young women working in a milk centre

An economically empowered young woman

Um-e-Habiba is a young woman who began working at a milk-collection centre that Plan International helped to establish for a farmers’ cooperative in Vehari, Pakistan. Before landing the job, she finished milk-technician training organized by Plan. Such training is unprecedented in rural Pakistan. Women account for more than 90 per cent of labour in the dairy sector, almost all of it unpaid and unrecognized. In partnership with Global Affairs Canada, the project benefits more than 9,100 women and 3,000 men, while increasing awareness about gender equality and creating more direct links between female farmers and the larger market. In such projects, in many countries, our overall goal is a world where women and men, girls and boys can enjoy power with each other, rather than power over each other. Um-e-Habiba is now an economically empowered role model for other women in her community.

Men champion maternity clinics for mothers

In Kita, Mali, approximately half of childbirths occur in homes without a healthcare worker present.

Learn more

The scholarship fuels her dream

Since her husband’s death five years ago, Onxai has raised two daughters alone in Nga district, Laos, working on farms and selling rice and corn for her daughters’ education.

Learn more

Men champion maternity clinics for mothers

In Kita, Mali, approximately half of childbirths occur in homes without a healthcare worker present. The problem includes a shortage of health clinics in rural areas. In response, Plan International collaborated with the community of Kita to build and equip two new maternity clinics. “The maternity has helped reduce expenditures, because we don’t have to pay for transport elsewhere, in addition to drugs for treatment,” says Karim, a father of four girls. The clinics are also saving lives. “On learning this project will help us solve health problems of women and children, I decided to give it my all,” says Modibo, Chairman of Kita’s Committee of Health. Also, 12 health workers were trained who facilitated health talks for more than 50 community members. Modibo and Karim are two of the men championing maternal and child health. “It is becoming very rare to see births not assisted here in our community,” Modibo says.

The scholarship fuels her dreams

Since her husband’s death five years ago, Onxai has raised two daughters alone in Nga district, Laos, working on farms and selling rice and corn for her daughters’ education. “I have to be both mother and father, and sometimes it is very difficult to fulfill those tasks,” she said. Plan International Canada teamed up with the community to distribute scholarships to families like Onxai’s – and to train teachers, establish clean drinking-water systems and promote gender equality and girls’ education. Onxai’s first daughter received a scholarship for a school uniform, school supplies and other necessities. Around the world, approximately 62 million girls aren't in school, partly because of poverty, but also because of entrenched gender norms and unequal power relations that undermine girls’ fundamental rights and freedoms.“The scholarship is extremely useful,” Onxai said. “It is very meaningful for poor families who can’t afford schooling.” Her daughter now dreams of becoming a doctor.

Generous Funders

One man inspires others to contribute

He knows that life has been good to him. As a successful Vancouver businessman, Gary Charlwood supports children around the world because he wants to share some of that “good.” The 30-year partnership between him and Plan International Canada demonstrates how Canadians can help to end poverty and save the planet. As a believer in our philosophy of addressing the root causes of poverty and gender inequality, Charlwood's philanthropy expands hope and provides opportunities for children, especially girls. He knows about inequality around the world, and he knows how fortunate we are in Canada. In support of children, he's contributed to "Because I am a Girl," emergency appeals and special projects, both personally and in partnership with Uniglobe’s Laurie Radloff Foundation, including sponsoring many communities in South America in the last decade. “Life has been good to me and mine," he says. "Being able to help and give back feels good all around.”

Gary Charlwood

Generous canadian supporters Canadian flag


Individual donors




Corporations & businesses


Community groups & organizations




Speakers bureau




Celebrated ambassadors
Total donors in Canada: 213,261


Because of these generous funders, Plan International Canada is able to take great steps forward in advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. We thank them for their incredible support.

Global affairs Canada
Global affairs Canada
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Dubai cares
Dubai cares
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Educate a child
Educate a child
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Global Sanitation Fund
Global Sanitation Fund
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World food program
World Food programme (WFP)
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» Global Affairs Canada partnership projects

A look forward

20 Million Reasons

This is an extraordinary time to be alive. Yet with all the world’s advances, we’ve left vast numbers of people behind. Of this group, children, and especially girls, are by far the most vulnerable. Denied their basic human rights, millions of girls are deprived of an education and forced into child marriage.

Plan International Canada has a bold, new strategy to help to unleash the potential of 20 million children by 2022. Well respected for our inclusive, sustainable and evidence-based approach to improving the lives of children, Plan International has definitive proof that when we educate a girl, she can lift herself and everyone around her out of poverty. Together, we can unleash human potential by creating a more equal world for boys and girls.