Amnesty International is committed to the principles of international human rights, which means that we do not support any one ideological, political, religious, or other model of government or society. In order to maintain a neutral and impartial approach to our work, we do not accept any government funding for our research and campaigning work.
The vast majority of Amnesty’s funding comes from individual supporters. Individual donations, and money raised by individuals through events such as participating in our annual Yoga Day event, sponsored road races, or organizing fundraising barbecues and film nights, are the primary sources of funding for Amnesty International.
How we spend your donations
In 2015, Amnesty International Canada raised approximately $13.3 million. Here’s how the money was allocated:
24% International Work: Funding projects by Amnesty’s International Secretariat (research missions, investigations and reports, worldwide campaigns, work with international bodies like the United Nations).
8% Action Strategies in Canada: Crisis Response, Urgent Action Network, Indigenous Rights, Women’s Rights, Security and Human Rights, Business and Human Rights, Refugees and Migrants, Americas Program.
9% Grassroots Activism in Canada: Support and materials to Amnesty youth groups, community groups, networks, fieldworkers and coordinators working on countries (e.g. Colombia), issues (e.g. Indigenous peoples), or groups (e.g. human rights defenders).
13% Communications, marketing and raising public awareness: Website and social media, December 10th Write for Rights event, publications, documentation, newsletters, media work, videos, public displays and public service announcements.
8% Organization: Administration, planning, National Office volunteer program, audit, staff training and development.
4% Information Technology
33% Raising funds for Amnesty’s human rights work; recruiting and retaining human rights supporters.
Amnesty’s fundraising expense percentage of 33% in 2015 was typical of many Canadian non-profit organizations. Amnesty Canada, unlike other organizations, neither seeks nor accepts government funding. Many organizations get a large portion of their income from governments, and divide their fundraising costs into their total budget, which makes the fundraising costs percentage appear lower (for example: a charity that spends $1.5 million to raise $5 million but receives a further $5 million in government funding can rightly say that their fundraising costs were 15% of total revenue). This is standard practice and we are not making a judgment about it, simply explaining that because Amnesty does not accept government funds in order to remain independent, our fundraising costs can appear higher compared to charities that do accept government funds.
Because Amnesty is a grassroots research and campaigning organization, as opposed to a direct aid organization, our work around communications, the media, public awareness, grassroots organizing, are central to our ability to make a difference in people’s lives. It is essential for Amnesty International to have an active, informed and supportive membership and Canadian public that we can mobilize into taking action so that we can bring issues to light and push authorities for change.