Industry Overview

The nonprofit sector is one of the fastest growing sectors for employment, both nationally and globally. It contributes the same value to Canada’s GDP as the utilities or accommodation and food services sectors. The sector represents 2.6 percent of the GDP in Ontario, the same as the automotive sector (ONN). Did you know that the nonprofit sector provides more employment for Canadians than construction and finance, insurance, and real estate employers? (Emmett, 2016). Or that it grew at a faster rate than the economy as a whole for the last 20 years (Emmett, 2016)? It is expected that this growth will into the future.

The nonprofit sector is diverse and complex and includes nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations, as well as those that are recognized as charities under the Income Tax Act. There are an estimated 170,000 nonprofit organizations, of which about 85,000 are charities. About two million people work in the sector!

Nonprofit organizations operate in all areas and in all types of goegraphic and communities of interst across the country. They range from small organizations with volunteers or a single employee and a few volunteers to large, fully staffed organizations such as hospitals, museums, universities, and art galleries. Nonprofit organizations can be found in areas such as health care, counselling, emergency food, housing services, sports, the environment, law, religion, and the arts. Many nonprofits are operating social enterprises – businesses that provide employment with a social purpose and many provideopportunities for many people who might otherwise be unemployed. You will find the sector operating around the world, through large organizations such as the International Red Cross and OXFAM to individuals working among orphan children in Namibia. The scope of activities in this exciting sector varies greatly, and offers many opportunities to explore.

Jobs in the sector are increasing. A report prepared for the Ontario Nonprofit Network (Mowat, 2013) reported that over 40 percent of the nonprofits surveyed had increased the number of FTEs in their organization in the previous three years, and 46 percent said that they thought the number of FTEs would increase in the next three years. Recent research on charities from Imagine Canada confirmed that the jobs created by charities “are good ones, requiring skills and education levels somewhat higher than the Canadian work force in general”. The research also indicated that people working in charities enjoyed high levels of satisfaction. (Emmett & Emmett, 2015).

Volunteers are a critical part of the nonprofit sector. About half of all nonprofit organizations are run by volunteers and the overall commitment of volunteer hours in Canada is equal to about a million FTEs. Volunteering is changing as result of economic, demographic, and cultural pressures, and nonprofit organizations are responding in innovative ways. It is an exciting and challenging time for nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit sector is becoming more complex with hybrid organizations, social enterprise, cross-sectoral partnerships, and attention to evaluating impact. There are fundamental shifts in the broad environment, including demographic change, that challenge the sector to respond in new and innovative ways, to provide leadership, to demonstrate impact, and to continue to contribute to the ongoing economic and social development of our communities.

A recent survey conducted as part of the ONN research on leadership in the sector, Shaping the Future (PDF), reported that just over three-quarters of respondents stated that a nonprofit management certificate/degree was very effective in helping prepare individuals for leadership roles in the nonprofit sector.

The Certificate in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management provides focused and applied learning to prepare graduates for a successful future in the nonprofit sector. It is engaged in an ongoing process to ensure its courses are dealing with key and topical issues and opportunities.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management graduates work in a diverse range of roles in nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations including:

  • Program management and supervision
  • Administration
  • Communications and marketing
  • Volunteer development and relations
  • Policy, research, and planning
  • Advocacy and government relations
  • Partnerships, collaborations, and stakeholder engagement
  • Organization leadership – CEO or Executive Director level
  • IT, finance, fundraising

“Taking the Certificate in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management was very important for my career. After graduating, I worked as a civil servant in the Ontario Ministry of Immigration and then I travelled and worked with different nonprofit organizations of North America, Europe and Africa. My last professional experience was in Africa working as a communication consultant for UNICEF Angola for over two years.””

Certificate Graduate