Canada’s non-profit sector – already the second largest in the world – now tops $100 billion in annual economic activity, according to the latest satellite account of non-profit institutions and voluntering, released this morning by Statistics Canada. The non-profit sector’s contribution to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 6% in 2008 – a faster rate of growth than the overall GDP increase of 5.2%. There are more than 161,000 non-profit organizations throughout Canada, according to Imagine Canada, employing more than two million people. The non-profit sector contributes more than four times more to Canada’s GDP than auto manufacturing, making the sector important not only for the vital services that it delivers to Canadians, but also the jobs and economic boost that it delivers to local and national economies.
The latest StatsCan report shows that the non-profit sector contributed $106.4 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2008 (the latest year for which numbers are available), which is 7.1% of the entire economic activity of Canada. Universities, colleges and hospitals are the biggest institutions in the non-profit sector – accounting for fully two-thirds of the entire sector. The rest of the sector includes a wide variety of organizations that provide services in everything from culture and recreation to environment to faith and business associations. While universities, colleges and hospitals rely primarily on government funding, the rest of the sector has a mixed funding base that includes some government grants, donations and earned income (money raised from a variety of activities).
In the core non-profit sector (all the non-profits minus the hospitals, universities and colleges), the biggest areas include:
- Social services ($7.6 billion);
- Housing ($6.1 billion);
- Community-based education and research ($3.6 billion); and,
- Community-based health ($2.6 billion).
The StatsCan report notes that the single biggest revenue for the core non-profit sector comes from sales of goods and services ($36 billion), followed by government transfers ($16.8 billion) and then donations from individuals and businesses ($11.6 billion).
The Wellesley Institute has long recognized that a robust and resilient non-profit sector is critical to strong and healthy communities. Non-profits not only deliver vital programs and services that support people, but they also make a big contribution to the economy – as the latest StatsCan numbers demonstrate. The entire range of non-profits make a valuable contribution to the health of communities, but our particular interest is in that part of the non-profit sector that provides key services and supports (community-based housing, social services, health and education/research).
We Can’t Afford to Do Business This Way, our ground-breaking research in 2007, examines the administrative burden facing non-profits. Our 2008 research and policy compendium, Collaboration in the Third Sector, sets out the promise, and the perils, from the spectrum of collaborative activities among non-profits.
The Wellesley Institute is involved in local, provincial, national and international initiatives that seek to strengthen the work of non-profit organizations and support their work in delivering services that meet a range of needs in communities.