As a component of the Ministry’s ongoing research efforts, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration commissioned Pollara to conduct a two-phase research study of Not for Profit and Charitable organizations in Ontario. This research was commissioned in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the sector and its contribution to Ontario’s economy, and the province as a whole. In particular, the overall objectives of research were as follows:

  • Develop a baseline of reliable statistical data to monitor trends in the NFP sector in Ontario;
  • Identify emerging issues for the sector and its sub-sectors; and,
  • Use the research results to develop and promote further studies of and within the NFP sector.

The following report discusses the results of the second phase of research, a combined online- and telephone-based study of Ontario Not-for-Profit and Charitable organizations. In total, 3,567 responses are included in the analysis: 1,939 responses collected via the telephone instrument, and 1,628 responses collected from the online instrument. The survey covered the following topics:

  • The scope of organizational activities: who or what the organization’s target audience was, in which geographic areas they operated, primary activities of the organization, and organizational classifications (e.g. sub-sector, such as “Environment” or “Health”);
  • The types and amount of revenues: overall revenues, revenues by type (e.g. “Donations” versus “Government revenues”), and an assessment of whether revenues were increasing or decreasing;
  • The human resources of organizations: the number of paid staff and type of staff (Part-time, full-time, contract), the number of volunteers and their average age, annual contribution (in hours), and whether human resources were increasing or decreasing; and,
  • (Online only) An assessment of the priorities and top concerns of NFP and Charitable organizations (e.g. top concerns and priorities overall, top priorities for government).

Where possible, Pollara and the Ministry constructed the survey so as to reflect past research that has been conducted in the sector, specifically, the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) conducted in 2003. This was done in order to facilitate comparison of data and results over time, and as much as possible, increase the usability of results by the Ministry and other organizations seeking to conduct research in the sector. While the methodological approaches for this survey and the 2003 NSNVO differ somewhat, there are points of similarity across key identifying variables (geography, scope of operations) which suggest that results may be reviewed side-by-side, even if direct comparison tracking is not advised.

Ultimately, these data provide a statistically-reliable baseline of information on the Ontario Not-for-Profit and Charitable sector, on each of the topics noted above. What is more, these results have been compared across sub-sectors and other research data, where possible and available, in order to demonstrate where key differences or new issues have emerged. Finally, the results presented here may assist the Ministry in informing future research and study in the NFP sector, and may contribute to the development of Ministry objectives and goals for use in future evaluation and measurement of the sector.

Sub-Sectors Included in this Report

The Phase II State of the Sector survey interviewed organizations representing thirteen organizational sub- sectors. These categories are outlined below (with abbreviated labels that will be used throughout the report included for reference). These categories are reflective of those identified in the ICNPO system of classification, as well as past data (including the 2003 NSNVO survey). Throughout the report, these sub-sector categories are referenced for comparison purposes.

Religion- This category includes religious congregations, or organizations supporting a religious congregation, but not religiously inspired groups that focus on some other type of activity, such as international development.

Sports and Recreation ("Sports & Rec")- This includes providing opportunities for sports and recreation, tourism, and service clubs such as the Rotary, Kinsmen or Lions.

Grantmaking, Fundraising or Promoting Voluntarism ("Grant-making"- This category includes making grants to other organizations, fund-raising on behalf of other organizations and promoting and supporting volunteering for other organizations.

Social Services- This includes family and child services such as parenting courses, day-care, and youth programs such as Scouts or the YMCA and YWCA. It also includes emergency and relief organizations, such as volunteer fire-fighters and temporary shelters, but does notinclude health services, nursing homes, community development and job training.

Development and Housing ("Development")- This category includes economic and community development, housing, employment training, vocational counselling, and operating community or neighbourhood organizations.

Arts and Culture- This includes the visual or performing arts, media and communications, as well as historic or literary societies, museums, zoos, and aquariums.

Education and Research ("Education")- This includes providing formal educational programs or conducting medical and scientific research, but notproviding day care or health promotion and wellness education.

Business Associations, Professional Associations or Unions ("Business Assoc’ns")– Organizations that operate as a business or professional association or union, including regulating and promoting the interests of specific professions, branches of business, or groups of employees.

Health- This includes providing health care, including nursing home care, health promotion and wellness education, but does notinclude medical research or hospitals.

Environment- This includes protection and beautification of the natural environment, animal protection and veterinary services.

Law, Advocacy and Politics ("Law & Advocacy")- This category includes advocacy on behalf of a specific cause or group, the law or legal services, crime prevention, victim services, offender rehabilitation, and politics. This does notinclude organizations that are engaged in advocacy as a secondary activity.

International activities- Organizations that provide programs or services outside of Canada, such as development, education, housing, infrastructure, or other services delivered outside of Canada; or fostering international relations.

Other Organizations– That is, organizations that do not fit into the categories above, but which nonetheless operate on a not-for-profit basis and/or operate as a registered charity in Ontario.

Volume II Reports will provide data for each of these sub-sectors individually, where numbers warrant.

Response Distribution among Key Characteristics


  • English - 99%
  • French - 1%


  • Online - 46%
  • Phone - 54%
Common titles of respondents
Executive Director Treasurer President
Religious Title Board Chair Director
Receptionist/etc Administrator General Manager
Board Member CEO Past President
Regional Distribution
North 10%
Eastern 21%
Central 26%
Toronto 21%
Southwest 22%

Summary of Key Findings

Summary of Key Findings: Contribution of the Sector


Overall, NFPs in Ontario collecting at least $1 in 2012 reported an average of just over $1.3M in revenues, for a total estimated sector contribution of $66,867,974,281.33*. At the same time, one-in-four organizations reports revenues of less than $25,000 (23%).

Organizations are more likely to say that their revenue has increased (32%) or stayed about the same (34%) than to believe that it has decreased over the past 3 years (20%).

Among those organizations that report revenues, International Activities organizations report the highest-average revenues at approximately $3.67M, while those operating in the Arts and Culture field report the lowest-average revenues, at just over $449,000.

Human Resources

Overall, NFPs in Ontario report an average of 17 employees, for a total estimated sector contribution of 295,027 employees province-wide*. Forty per cent of responding organizations say that they have no employees at all.

A majority of organizations say that the number of staff they employ has stayed about the same over the course of the past three years (69% "about the same number of full-time staff"; 67% "about the same number of part-time staff"). Half of organizations report that the number of volunteers who contribute has stayed about the same in this time period, while 32% say this number has increased.

Extrapolated data, please see appendix

Among those organizations with at least one employee, International Activities organizations report the highest average number of staff (89.2) while Religious organizations report the lowest average number of staff (4.3).

Most (87%) organizations involve volunteers to some degree; the average reported age of volunteers is 45. On average, NFPs report an average of 111 volunteers, for a total estimated sector contribution of 3,388,826 volunteers province-wide*. These volunteers are reported to contribute an average of 344.5 hours each year, for an overall total of approximately 274,200 full-time-equivalent posts* across the province.

Among those organizations that reported at least one volunteer in the past year, International Activities organizations reported the highest number of volunteers overall (1,260), while Arts & Culture organizations reported substantially fewer (37). Volunteers with Business & Professional associations were reported to contribute the fewest number of hours on average (42/year), while Other organizations reported their volunteers gave more than 2,000 hours in 2012.

Summary of Key Findings: Scope and Operations

Only one-in-ten organizations say that they are not incorporated (10%). Four-in-ten organizations say that they have been incorporated for more than 20 years (43%), and overall, more than six-in-ten have been operating for at least this long (63%).

One-in-five organizations classify themselves as "Religion" organizations (20%), while 18% say that they are Social Services-based. Thirteen per cent each say that they are a Sports & Rec, or Arts & Culture organization.

NFPs most often focus on their primary mandate (e.g. "Religion" or "Environment), but they often also undertake activities that fall into other categories as well. For example, 28% of International Activities organizations also undertake activities in the health sphere, and 25% of Health organizations undertake activities in the social services sphere.

Half of responding organizations say that they are a "Local Chapter" organization, with over eight-in-ten overall indicating that they are some type of "Chapter". This being said, only one-in-four indicate that they are a "sub-unit", suggesting that many organizations view their single-unit organization as a chapter of sorts.

Reflecting how many organizations self-identify as local or regional organizations, 61% say that their primary service area is a neighbourhood (11%) or a city, town, county, or rural municipality (50%). Six per cent of organizations say they operate province-wide, and an equal proportion indicate they operate nationally.

Nine-in-ten organizations say that they serve people, while one-in-three say that they serve other organizations (90% and 33%, respectively). International Activities and Grant-Making organizations are the most likely to say that they service other organizations (58% and 62%, respectively).

The most commonly groups serviced by NFPs in Ontario are the "General Public" (29%) and children/young people (23%). Thirteen per cent indicate that they serve immigrants, visible minority populations or other specific cultures or ethnic groups.

Summary of Key Findings: Key Issues and Concerns

Two-thirds of organizations say that they find it very or somewhat challenging to meet their immediate needs on their current revenues (66%). Only 11% of organizations say that the level of difficulty they have is a 1 or 2 on a ten-point scale.

Eight-in-ten Development organizations indicate that it is a challenge for them to secure sufficient revenues to meet their day-to-day needs (81% rate this as a 6 or higher out of 10), compared to 45% of International Activities organizations.

Three-quarters of organizations say that they find it very or somewhat challenging to get enough revenues to meet the organization’s objectives through their programs and services (75%). Seven per cent say that this is not an issue for them (1 or 2 on a ten-point scale).

84% of Law & Advocacy organizations and 82% of Social Services organizations say that it is a challenge for them to secure sufficient revenues to meet their mandate, compared to 63% of Grant-making organizations.

Accordingly, the single-most-often-mentioned operational challenge according to organizations concerns money: insufficient operating funds (25%), paired with competition for limited funds (13%), operating costs (12%) or dependence on a single funding source or government funding (13%). Human resources issues are the second-most prominent source of frustration, with 14% citing lack of human resources as their greatest challenge, along with (a lack of) operational skills (2%). Demand/scope issues are noted by 13%, overall ("outpaces capacity" 11%; "insufficient demand" 2%).

Organizations are most likely to suggest that assistance with the funding process (44%) and supporting capacity-building (37%) should be the provincial government’s top-two goals when it comes to the not-for-profit sector. Relationship-building, including generating public awareness, and brokering relationships with businesses, are mentioned by 31% and 16%, respectively.

Summary of Key Findings: Changes in the Sector

Compared to the NSNVO 2003, similar proportions of organizations operate at the local level (60%, down 5 points from 2003), while 20% of organizations operate in a region of a province (+2) and 6% operate provincially (n/c)*.

Development and housing (6% of all paid staff) and Business Associations (2% of all paid staff) showed the greatest shifts in share of paid staff from the 2003 NSNVO results (both shifted more than 10 points each); eight of thirteen Sub-Sectors showed marginal or no change in share of paid staff from the NSNVO.

Compared to 2003, Sports & Rec organizations have a proportionally lower share of volunteers (40% of volunteers in 2003, now at 13% of all volunteers)*. Social services organizations now represent a larger share of the volunteer corps (23%, up 16 points from 2003)*.

Nine out of thirteen Sub-Sectors experienced marginal or no change in their share of revenues across the total NFP sector*. Only Business Associations experienced double-digit change, a drop of 17 points from 18% in 2003 – to 1% today*.

New methods of revenue generation are available, but uptake is limited: Only 1% of responding organizations say that they collected funds from Social Financing, generating an average of $41,686 from this source. Less than 5% of organizations say that they generate revenues through Social Enterprise; those who do raise an average of $130,566 this way.

Funding remains the top-noted issue for NFPs in Ontario.

Detailed Results

Describing the Organizational Landscape

Key Findings: Organizational Landscape

Most organizations surveyed are incorporated – and established

  • Few not-for-profit or charitable organizations operating in Ontario indicate that they have been operating for less than a year, and only one-in-ten indicate that they are not incorporated in some fashion.
  • On average, charities have been in operation for 50 years, while incorporated not-for-profits have been in operation for 34 years, on average. Organizations that fit into both categories average 36 years of operation.

There is some degree of confusion as to how organizations classify themselves

  • While eight-in-ten organizations indicate that they are some kind of chapter (e.g. "local chapter" 51%), only one-in-four indicate that they are a "sub-unit" of a larger organization.

Organizations primarily serve individuals (90%), and more often operate out of urban areas (71%) than rural (57%) or suburban (38%) regions

The geographic regions that NFPs serve remains largely unchanged in 2012, from the 2003 NSNVO results: then, two-in-three indicated that they served a local area or municipality; in this survey, 61% say they now serve the same type of areas

Eight-in-ten NFPs indicate that they are incorporated; plurality are established organizations incorporated over 20 years ago

Charities have a longer overall tenure than other NFPs (50 vs 34 years, on average)

Year of Incorporation

  • 1992 or earlier - 43%
  • 1993-1997 - 8%
  • 1998-2002 - 9%
  • 2003-2007 - 10%
  • 2008 or more recent - 9%
  • Don't Know - 10%
  • Not Incorporated - 10%

B1. In what year was your organization incorporated? (Base: All; N=3567)

Total Years in Operation Registered Charity NFP Both
Less than 1 Year <1% <1% <1%
1-20 Years 32% 38% 31%
21-40 Years 29% 33% 41%
41-85 Years 21% 22% 21%
More than 85 Years 18% 7% 7%
Average 50 34 36

B2Y. Total Years in Operation Calculated Variable – Years in operation, or Years incorporated + Years in operation prior to incorporation. (Base: All; N=3457)

Religious organizations are among the oldest organizations in Ontario, but the least often incorporated

At least nine-in-ten Business Associations, Health, Development, and Advocacy organizations indicate that they are incorporated

  Mean years in operation % In operation for more than 40 years % Incorporated
Religion 50 55% 55%
Other 20 28% 85%
Sports and Recreation 18 36% 81%
Grant-making 15 31% 79%
Business Associations 15 16% 92%
Social Services 12 24% 87%
Education and Research 11 21% 88%
Arts and Culture 11 23% 88%
Health 11 21% 90%
Development and Housing 11 15% 92%
Environment 10 20% 88%
Law, Advocacy & Politics 7 15% 92%
International Activities 5 17% 89%

Eight-in-ten organizations indicate that they are a type of chapter, but only one-in-four believe their organization is a "sub-unit"

Two per cent of organizations say that they are a single-unit operation

Is your organization a…

Type %
Local Chapter 51%
Regional Chapter 10%
Provincial Chapter 9%
National Office 1%
North American Branch <1%
International Office <1%
Other type of Chapter 12%
Single-Unit Organization 2%
National Head Office <1%
International Head Office <1%
Provincial Head Office <1%

B5. Thinking about this, are you based in a… (Base: All; N=3567)

Does organization have sub-units?

  • No - 90%
  • Yes - 10%

B3. Does your organization have sub-units, such as chapters or branches? (Base: All; N=3567)

Are you a sub-unit?

  • No - 73%
  • Yes - 27%

B4. Is your organization a sub-unit of a larger parent organization? (Base: All; N=3567)

International organizations most likely to say that they have subunits (22%), religious NFPs most likely to say that they are one

  % Who have sub-units % Who are sub-units
International Activities 22% 19%
Law, Advocacy & Politics 18% 16%
Health 13% 17%
Business Associations 13% 23%
Other 13% 16%
Religion 12% 58%
Social Services 12% 21%
Sports and Recreation 9% 25%
Education and Research 8% 14%
Grant-making, Fundraising or Voluntarism 8% 33%
Environment 6% 10%
Development and Housing 5% 23%
Arts and Culture 4% 7%

Nine-in-ten organizations say that they serve individuals; seven-in-ten operate out of urban areas

Do you serve…

  • People - 90%
  • Other Organizations - 33%

B8. Does your organization provide services or products directly to…? (Base: All; N=3567); MultipleResponse Variable, responses may total more than 100%

Do you operate in…

  • Urban Area - 71%
  • Suburban Area - 38%
  • Rural Area - 38%

B7. Which of the following best describes the areas that you serve? (Base: YES to B5a/B6a/B6B; N=3567); Multiple Response Variable, responses may total more than 100%

More than half of International and Grant-Making organizations say that their primary focus is helping other organizations

Slightly fewer international organizations report a similar focus; Business Associations and International organizations most often report operating in rural areas.

  Serve People Serve Other Organizations Urban Area Suburban Area Rural Area
Religion 94% 35% 61% 53% 32%
Arts and Culture 94% 32% 83% 51% 39%
Social Services 93% 30% 75% 53% 35%
Sports and Recreation 93% 23% 69% 58% 42%
Development and Housing 93% 16% 76% 47% 35%
Health 91% 28% 80% 61% 44%
Education and Research 90% 33% 77% 63% 43%
Business Associations 89% 37% 72% 63% 45%
Environment 83% 38% 54% 91% 33%
International Activities 83% 58% 64% 89% 47%
Other 83% 33% 64% 70% 34%
Law, Advocacy & Politics 79% 30% 74% 68% 41%
Grant-making 69% 62% 70% 57% 39%

Three-in-ten organizations that serve individuals say that they serve the general public; one-in-five are focused on children/youth

“Other” types of organizations focus on such groups as members (2%), tourists (1%), or the LGBTQ community (>1%).

Of the 90% of Organizations That Serve Individuals, the Following Sub-categories Exist:
General Public 29%
Children/Young People 23%
Adults 15%
Families 15%
Elderly/Older Ontarians 15%
Immigrants, Visible Minorities, and Spec. Cultures/Ethnic Groups 13%
Persons with Disabilities 13%
Particular Geographic Community 9%
Vulnerable Groups 6%
Academic Groups 5%
Poor/Homeless/Low Income 5%
Religious Groups 5%
Women Only 4%
Mental Health 4%
Aboriginal Peoples or Organizations 4%
All Others 16%

B9. Which groups of people does your organization mainly serve through its activities? (Among those responding “PEOPLE” to B8; N=3217)

Areas serviced by Ontario NFPs largely aligns with 2003 NSNVO results

Six-in-ten organizations indicate that they serve a local area (neighbourhood, city/town, or county), while 6% each say that they serve a single province, or Canada as a whole.

What areas do you serve?

In 2003, the NSNVO survey found that 65% of Ontario organizations operate within a local municipality, with 18% operating in a region of a province. 6% operated in a single province, and a similar number operated nationally.

A Neighbourhood 11%
A City, Town or Rural Municipality 49%
County 1%
A Region of a Province or Territory 20%
A Province or Territory 6%
More than One Province or Territory 1%
Canada 6%
International, Including Canada 4%
International, Not Including Canada 1%

B6. And, which of the following best describes the geographic area which your organization primarily serves? (Base: All; N=3567)

Activities of the Not-for-Profit Sector

Key Findings: Activities of the Not-for-Profit Sector

The proportion of Religious organizations in Ontario has decreased from the 2003 NSNVO survey (20%, -3) while the proportion of Social Services organizations has increased (18%, +7).

NFPs frequently undertake activities in more than one “sub-sector” classification category.

  • While over 90% of sub-sector classified respondents indicate that their primary activity matches their organizational classification, upwards of one-in-four say that they also undertake activities in a second, or third category. For example, 25% of “Health” organizations also undertake activities that fall under “social services” categories, and 22% of Environment organizations also undertake activities in “education”.


One-in-five organizations in Ontario is classified as a “Religious” organization; 18% are classified as “Social Services” groups

Religion 20%
Social Services 18%
Sports & Recreation 13%
Arts & Culture 13%
Grant-Making & c 8%
Education & Research 8%
Health 5%
Development & Housing 4%
Environment 3%
Business Associations 2%
Law, Advocacy & Politics 2%
International 1%
Other 3%

C3NEW. Of the areas you just indicated your organization was active in, which is the one area that your organizationsdevotes most of its time and resources? (N=3567; base=all; calculated variable).

Ontario NFPs operate within their Sub-Sector classification; some undertake activities in other areas

Organizations not classified as “social services” or “education” indicate that they sometimes undertake activities that fall into these categories

  Top Activity 2nd Activity 3rd Activity
Religion Religion 99% Social Services 22% Grant-making 11%
Education and Research Education 99% Social Services 17% Arts & Culture 12%
Arts and Culture Arts & Culture 99% Education 21% Grant-Making 8%
Sports and Recreation Sports & Rec 99% Grant-Making 11% Social Services 7%
Law, Advocacy & Politics Advocacy 99% Social Services 18% Education 15%
Health Health 97% Social Services 25% Education 17%
Business Associations Associations 97% Education 12% Grant-Making 9%
Development and Housing Development 95% Social Services 8% Education 8%
Environment Environment 94% Education 22% Grant-Making 13%
International Activities International 94% Health 28% Education 25%
Social Services Social Services 93% Health 15% Education 12%
Grant-making Grant-Making 93% Sports & Rec 14% Education 14%
Other Other 42% Education 28% Social Services 27%

C1. Now, we would like to determine your organization’s areas of activity. What is the primary activity area of your organization? In other words, to what types of activities does your organization devote most of its time and resources, including expenditures? (Base: All; N=3567)


Social Services appear among the top-three organization types across the province

Toronto is the only part of Ontario where Arts & Culture organizations are among the “top-3” organizational mandates of NFPs

  North Central Southwest Eastern Toronto
Social Services 26% 26% 26% 31% 30%
Sports & Recreation 24% 23% 19% 20%  
Religion 21% 23% 26% 19%  
Education       19% 27%
Arts & Culture         22%

Staffing and Volunteers

Key Findings: Staffing and Volunteers

On average, responding NFPs say that they employ roughly 17 employees, for an extrapolated total of 295,027* employees across all Ontario NFPs. Two-thirds of organizations indicate that the number of people they employ has not changed substantially in the last three years.

  • Results indicate that permanent employment is more common than contract employment; for example, the average NFP employs 10 full-time permanent employees – compared to 6 full-time contract employees.
  • Compared to the 2003 NSNVO survey, Social Services organizations have increased their share of paid employees substantially – doubling in the nine-year period from 21% to 42% in this year’s results. Health organizations also employ 15% of all employees in the NFP sector – while only accounting for 5% of organizations.

Part-time employees of NFPs in Ontario work an average of 18 hours per week, though 31% indicate that their part-time workers clock between 21 and 30 hours.

Those who employ seasonal staff report an average of 9 workers – however, two-thirds of those with contract employees say that they do not employ any seasonal workers.

One-in-three organizations say that the number of volunteers they count on has increased in the last three years – an organizational average now of 111 volunteers, contributing an average of 345 hours each year.

*Indicates extrapolation. Please see appendix.

In total, the Not-for-profit sector in Ontario employs approximately 295,027* individuals on a full or part-time basis

Four-in-ten responding organizations say that they do not have any employees at all.

Number of Employees Percentage
0 40%
1-5 36%
6-10 9%
11-20 7%
21-50 4%
More than 50 4%
Don't know 1%

D1. How many paid employees does your organization currently have? (Base: All; N=3567 Table with mean (no 0)

Mean Score for scale: 17.27

Types of employees

  • Full-time permanent - average 10.04
  • Full-time contract - average 5.78
  • Part-time permanent - average 8.38
  • Part-time contract - average 6.94

D2/D3. How many fulltime/part time permanent staff – that is, staff without a termination date – does your organization have? (Base: those with at least 1 employee; N=2,158)

D4/D5. How many full time/part time contract staff – that is, staff with a termination date – does your organization have? (Base: those with at least 1 employee; N=2158)

*Indicates extrapolation. Please see appendix.

International-Activity organizations indicate they have an average 89 paid employees, more than any other NFP category

Religious organizations and environmental organizations are least likely to report paid employees

Average (Mean) # of Employees # of Full-Time Employees # of Part-Time Employees # of Contract Employees # of Seasonal Employees
International Activities 89 11 2 52 -
Health 46 21 18 2 2
Social Services 33 16 10 4 7
Sports and Recreation 16 4 6 8 15
Development 13 6 5 2 5
Education and Research 12 7 3 3 7
Law & Advocacy 12 8 2 4 1
Business Associations 12 10 2 1 7
Other 12 7 4 2 4
Grant-making 11 6 2 3 1
Arts and Culture 9 4 3 6 9
Environment 8 5 1 2 3
Religion 4 2 2 - 11

Organizations are asked, separately, each of the questions above; accordingly, reported numbers may not sum to the total # Of Employees: Average (mean) numbers of staff reported, among those who report at least 1 paid staff member (N=2158)

Full, Part, Contract categories: Average (mean) numbers of staff reported, among those who reported at least 1 paid staff member overall (N=2158) Seasonal: Average (mean) numbers of staff reported, among those who reported that they had seasonal employees among their contract staff. (N=268)

Three-quarters of Development, Social Services, and Religious organizations report having at least 1 paid staff member

Organizations classified as “Development and Housing” have a smaller share of paid staff than in 2003. Social Services organizations paid staff represent a larger share of NFP staff than in 2003.

  % Reporting Paid Staff % Share of Paid Staff
Development and Housing 77% 6% (-18)
Social Services 73% 35% (+14)
Religion 73% 10% (+2)
Business Associations 72% 2% (-16)
Health 71% 14% (+6)
Other 65% 2% (n/c)
Law, Advocacy & Politics 60% 2% (n/c)
Education and Research 58% 8% (+5)
International Activities 57% 1% (+1)
Arts and Culture 52% 7% (+2)
Environment 46% 1% (+1)
Sports and Recreation 35% 8% (n/c)
Grant-making 35% 4% (+2)

Tracking from 2003 NSNVO survey shown in (+/-), above


Social Service organizations report the greatest number of employees overall, followed by Health organizations, and Religion NFPs

Province-Wide Estimate # of Employees* Estimate: Top of Range* Estimate: Bottom of Range*
Religion 30,237 31,352 29,122
Sports and Recreation 23,701 24,784 22,618
Grant-making 12,277 13,001 11,553
Social Services 104,332 108,472 100,193
Development and Housing 18,108 19,557 16,659
Arts and Culture 19,967 20,902 19,032
Education and Research 24,302 25,716 22,889
Business Associations 4,947 5,510 4,383
Health 40,887 43,952 37,823
Environment 3,132 3,414 2,849
Law, Advocacy & Politics 5,150 5,749 4,551
International Activities 2,865 3,353 2,376
Other 6,827 7,533 6,122

* Indicates extrapolation; please see appendix

NFPs with part-time employees say these staff work an average of just under 18 hours/week

NFPs with seasonal staff employ an average of 9 seasonal employees

Religious, Sports & Recreation, and Arts & Culture organizations report the greatest average number of seasonal staff (11, 15 and 9, respectively), while none of the International Activity organizations with contract staff reported having seasonal employees

Types of Employees

  • Full-time Permanent - Average 10.04
  • Part-time Permanent - Average 8.38
  • Full-time Contract - Average 5.78
  • Part-time Contract - Average 6.94

Number of Seasonal Contract Staff (Mean among those with seasonal staff: 9)

  • 0 - 68%
  • 1-5 - 20%
  • 6-10 - 4%
  • 11-20 - 2%
  • 21-50 - 2%
  • More than 50 - 1%

D6. How many of your organization’s contract staff are seasonal? (Base: Among those with contract staff; N=846)

Hours Worked by PT Staff (Mean: 17.72)

  • 5 or less - 9%
  • 6-10 hours - 11%
  • 11-20 hours - 43%
  • 21-30 - 31%

D7. On average, how many hours per week do your part-time employees work (Among those with part-time staff; N=1609)

Two-thirds of organizations indicate that the number of paid staff they employ has stayed the same. One-in-three organizations say that the number of volunteers they have has increased in the past 3 years

  Has the number of full-time staff… Has the number of part-time staff… Has the number of volunteers
Increased? 13% 16% 32%
Stayed about the same? 69% 67% 49%
Decreased? 9% 7% 13%
  • In 2003’s NSNVO survey, 60% of responding Ontario NFPs say that the number of paid staff they employ was “the same” as three years earlier.

D8. Compared to 3 years ago, has the number of full-time staff that your organization employs… (Base: All; N=3548)

D9. Compared to 3 years ago, has the number of part-time staff that your organization employs… (Base: All; N=3539)

D15. Compared to 3 years ago, has the number of volunteers serving your organization (Base: All; N=3100)

Most organizations operate with the assistance of volunteers; only 2% of organizations who have ever had volunteers say that none have assisted in the past year

Does your organization involve volunteers?

  • No - 13%
  • Yes - 87%
0 2%
1-5 11%
6-10 12%
11-20 17%
21-50 26%
More than 50 28%

Average number of volunteers: 111.41

D12. Not including board members, how many people volunteered for your organization in the past year? (Base: Those with volunteers; N=3096) Trimmed Mean Shown

Ontario NFPs report that their volunteers’ average age is 45, with fewer than one-in-ten volunteers under age 24

Volunteers’ average age is highest in Eastern Ontario and lowest in Toronto (48 and 40, respectively).

Does your organization involve volunteers?

  • No - 13%
  • Yes - 87%
Under 13 <1%
13-17 2%
18-24 6%
25-34 12%
35-44 19%
45-54 20%
55-64 18%
65+ 11%

Average number of volunteers: 45

D11. What is the average age of your volunteers? (Base: those who have volunteers, N=3089)

Across the Not-for-Profit sector, reported hourly contributions indicate that volunteers contribute over 8M hours, or over 215,000 full-time equivalent posts*

Does your organization involve volunteers?

  • No - 13%
  • Yes - 87%


5 or less 8%
6-10 hours 11%
11-20 hours 13%
21-30 hours 7%
31-40 hours 6%
More than 40 hours 40%

Average number of volunteer hours/year: 345

D13. On average, how many hours did each volunteer contribute to the organization in the past year? (Base: those with volunteers; N=2951)

*Indicates extrapolation. Please see appendix

On average, International Activities NFPs report the highest number of volunteers per organization in the past year, while Other organizations report the greatest average annual hourly contribution

Average (Mean) % Organizations reporting Past Year - N of Volunteers (Mean, no 0) Est. Total N Volunteers* Past Year - N Hours provided (Mean, no 0) Est. Total FTE Positions*
International Activities 89% 1,260 29,513 241 3,542
Environment 87% 233 140,412 200 10,666
Health 87% 209 275,940 194 19,484
Social Services 86% 137 778,032 595 79,825
Sports and Recreation 90% 107 452,722 152 27,969
Education and Research 79% 103 202,773 169 13,955
Grant-making 85% 97 260,080 107 18,137
Other 87% 73 95,998 2,033 6,592
Development and Housing 58% 71 149,405 156 9,441
Religion 93% 61 551,202 174 51,890
Business Associations 79% 50 50,988 42 608
Law, Advocacy & Politics 89% 43 42,264 1,250 2,197
Arts and Culture 93% 37 354,914 62 26,779

*Indicates extrapolation. Please see appendix

Share of volunteers by sub-sector, 2012 and 2003

Sports and recreation volunteer numbers represent a smaller share overall than in 2003; Social Services numbers represent a larger share than a decade ago.

  % of Organizations reporting (2012) % Share of Volunteers (2012) >NSNVO % Share of volunteers % Change
Arts & Culture 91% 10% 3% +7%
Religion 86% 16% 9% +7%
Law, Advocacy & Politics 85% 1% 2% -1%
Other 84% 3% <1% +3%
Sports & Recreation 84% 13% 40% -27%
Health 83% 8% 4% +4%
Social Services 83% 23% 7% +16%
Environment 82% 4% 1% +3%
International Activities 81% 1% 1% n/c
Grant-making 77% 8% 6% +2%
Education & Research 75% 6% 14% -8%
Business Associations 73% 2% 10% -8%
Development & Housing 55% 4% 1% +3%

Organizations report that about one-in-ten volunteers contribute more than once a week; one-in-four organizations report their volunteers only contribute once or twice a year

  0% 1-24% 25-49% 50-74% 75-99% 100%
Overall frequency of contribution 28% 16% 20% 20% 11%  
Only once or twice a year 35% 28% 8% 11% 9% 10%
At least every few months 43% 32% 13% 6% 2% 3%
At least once a month 40% 29% 15% 8% 5% 4%
At least once a week 47% 24% 11% 8% 5% 5%
More often than once a week 60% 25% 6% 3% 2% 3%

D14. In the past year, approximately what percentage of them volunteered once or twice a year, and what percentage volunteered more frequently? Please ensure that values add to 100%. (Base: Those with volunteers; N=2922)


Frequency of Volunteer Contribution by Sub-Sector

Volunteers with Religious or Health-oriented organizations contribute most frequently (38% and 37% of volunteers gave time at least once each week, respectively), while environmental groups reported the lowest frequency of contribution (nearly half of volunteers contribute once or twice a year)

  1-2x/year At least every few months At least once a month At least once a week >1x/week
Overall frequency of contribution 28% 16% 20% 20% 11%
Religion 17% 15% 22% 28% 12%
Health 22% 13% 22% 25% 12%
Social Services 23% 15% 22% 23% 13%
Sports And Recreation 34% 13% 16% 18% 15%
International Activities 22% 23% 21% 16% 16%
Education And Research 36% 16% 17% 19% 10%
Law, Advocacy And Politics 22% 20% 22% 15% 13%
Development And Housing 34% 15% 18% 17% 11%
Other 31% 22% 17% 17% 9%
Arts And Culture 36% 18% 18% 14% 8%
Grant-Making &c 33% 18% 22% 12% 8%
Environment 48% 20% 17% 7% 6%

D14. In the past year, approximately what percentage of them volunteered once or twice a year, and what percentage volunteered more frequently? Please ensure that values add to 100%. (Base: Those with volunteers; N=2922)

Revenues and Sources of Revenue

Key Findings: Revenues

NFPs in Ontario who take in at least $1 in revenues report an average of just under $1.4M in revenues – but, at the same time, one-in-four organizations indicates they took in less than $25,000 last year.

  • What is more, approximately one-third each say that their revenues are stable (34%) or increasing (32%) over three years ago.
  • This is led by International Activities organizations who claimed an average of approximately $3.67M overall, and Grant-making organizations, who claimed an average of nearly $3.1M overall in annual revenues in the survey.

When extrapolating to the broader sector, it is estimated that the NFP sector in Ontario collected $66,867,974,281.33 in revenues last year*.

The top-two sources of revenue for NFPs in 2012 were listed as payments or fees for products, services, or events (28%), or individual donations (29%).

Among the 40% of organizations that indicate they receive at least some government funding, the average amount received is approximately $1.2M, with two-thirds of organizations overall indicating that their government revenues have been stable - or growing – in the last three years (65%).

  • With this being said, 30% of organizations say that they received less than $25,000 from governments in their last fiscal year.
  • Organizations with government funding indicate that approximately half of this revenue is in disbursements from the provincial government (51%).

*Indicates extrapolation. Please see appendix.

On average, Ontario NFPs report average revenues of more than $1.3M; at the same time, one-in-four say that they took in less than $25,000 last year

0 3%
Less than $25,000 20%
$25,000 to less than $50,000 9%
$50,000 to less than $75,000 6%
$75,000 to less than $100,000 4%
$100,000 to less than $250,000 16%
$250,000 to less than $500,000 10%
$500,000 to less than $1 million 8%
$1 Million or more 13%
Don't know 9%
Refused 3%

Average revenues:

$1,357,263 (trimmed mean, among those reporting >$0)

In the past 3 years, has revenue increased 32% from 34%, or decreased 20% from 34%

E1. In the last fiscal year, what were the total revenues that your organization received from all sources? (Base: All; N=3567)

E2. To what extent have your organization’s total revenues changed over the previous three fiscal years? (Base: Those with revenues, N=3468)

Across the sector, NFPs responses indicate that the Not-for-Profit Sector took in an estimated $67B in revenues in 2012*

  % Organizations reporting Average Revenue (trimmed mean, not including 0) Estimated total Revenue* % Revenue Increased in past 3 years
International Activities 91% $3,668,427.03 $1,829,257,064.24 39%
Grant-making 87% $3,094,033.52 $11,879,339,180.58 34%
Health 85% $2,579,246.25 $6,335,338,604.33 32%
Social Services 88% $1,973,801.34 $17,509,780,950.92 49%
Other 85% $1,115,654.68 $1,428,168,888.57 25%
Environment 88% $944,051.75 $1,530,091,597.49 28%
Business Associations 81% $826,494.19 $855,619,306.44 26%
Education And Research 91% $820,276.86 $3,259,550,075.06 34%
Sports And Recreation 83% $793,018.81 $5,058,066,270.33 32%
Law, Advocacy And Politics 87% $622,433.49 $628,492,846.07 41%
Religion 82% $614,561.14 $6,155,064,600.16 26%
Development And Housing 80% $557,390.80 $7,255,888,900.91 37%
Arts And Culture 87% $449,277.83 $2,754,479,629.19 43%

Revenues = average revenue in survey * (extrapolated number of organizations * % oforganizations reporting revenue in survey)

*Indicates extrapolation; please see appendix.

With the exception of Business Associations (-17% from 2003) responses indicate that most Sub-Sectors experienced marginal – if any – change in share of revenues from 2003

  2012 % Organizations reporting 2012 % Share of revenue % Share of Revenue (NSNVO>/abbr>) % Change
International Activities 91% 3% 3% n/c
Education And Research 91% 5% 5% n/c
Social Services 88% 26% 19% +7%
Environment 88% 2% 2% n/c
Grant-making 87% 18% 10% +8%
Arts And Culture 87% 4% 5% +1%
Law, Advocacy And Politics 87% 1% 3% -2%
Health 85% 9% 8% +1%
Other 85% 2% 3% -1%
Sports And Recreation 83% 8% 8% n/c
Religion 82% 9% 10% -1%
Business Associations 81% 1% 18% -17%
Development And Housing 80% 11% 6% +5%

Share of Revenues: NFP organizations report that one-quarter of their revenues comes from payments for products, services, or events, while 29% comes from individual donation

Payments or fees for products, services and events 28%
Charitable gaming 4%
Foundation(s) 2%
Membership fees or dues 14%
Earnings from endowments or investments 5%
Individual donations 29%
Fundraising organizations 7%
Other transfers and disbursement 2%
Corporate sponsorships, donations or grants 7%
Social finance <1%
Social enterprise 2%

E8A-K Calculated. In the last fiscal year, how much revenue did your organization receive from each of the following sources? What about… (N=3468).

Calculated Variable – Value Reported divided by Sum of reported revenues in E8A-K, averages including 0 and excluding those refusing to respond.


Ontario NFPs indicate that their revenues from sources other than government amount to $2.8M, on average – and have remained stable or grown over the last three years (65%)

0 4%
Less than $25,000 26%
$25,000 to less than $50,000 10%
$50,000 to less than $75,000 6%
$75,000 to less than $100,000 4%
$100,000 to less than $250,000 14%
$250,000 to less than $500,000 9%
$500,000 to less than $1 million 6%
$1 Million or more 7%
Don't know 4%
Refused 10%

Average non-government revenues:

$2,786,394 (among those reporting >$0)

In the past 3 years, has revenue increased 27% from 38%, or decreased 18% from 38%

E6. In the last fiscal year, how much revenue – in terms of the total dollar figure – did your organization receive in some form from sources that were not government? (Base: Those with revenue; N=3468)

E7. To what extent have your organization’s total revenues from non-government sources changed over the past three fiscal years? Would you say they have…? (Base: those with revenue; N=3468)

Ontario NFPs most often indicate that they generate more revenues from the products or services they offer than any other source ($4.5M, on average)

In the last fiscal year, how much revenue did you receive from…?
(average among those reporting >$0)
Payments or fees for products, services, etc $4,495,773
Charitable gaming $56,412
Foundations established to collect funds $322,166
Membership fees or dues $3,337,696
Earnings from investments $1,126,260
Individual donations $229,758
Fundraising organizations $760,716
Other transfers from not-for-profits $64,942
Corporate sponsorships, donations or grants $123,374
Social finance, such as community bonds $41,686
Social enterprise $130,566

E8. In the last fiscal year, how much revenue did your organization receive from each of the following sources? (Base: Those with revenue; N=3468)

Half of organizations say that they receive no government funding at all; those who do say they receive an average of $1.2M

0 48%
Less than $25,000 12%
$25,000 to less than $50,000 3%
$50,000 to less than $75,000 3%
$75,000 to less than $100,000 2%
$100,000 to less than $250,000 6%
$250,000 to less than $500,000 4%
$500,000 to less than $1 million 4%
$1 Million or more 6%
Don't know 2%
Refused 10%

Average non-government revenues:

$1,201,454 (trimmed mean among those reporting >$0)

In the past 3 years, have government revenues increased 13% from 42%, or decreased 11% from 42%

E2. In the last fiscal year, how much revenue – in terms of the total dollar figure – did your organization receive in some form from government? (Base: those with revenue; N=3468)

E5. To what extent have your organization’s total revenues from government changed over the past three fiscal years? Would you say they have… (Base: those with revenue; N=3468)

Grant-making organizations list the highest average government revenues, at just under $3M

Average government revenue, among those receiving at least $1

  • Grantmaking - $2,958,479.67
  • Health - $2,148,303.60
  • International Activities - $2,074,721.08
  • Social Services - $2,004,881.10
  • Other - $1,316,111.66
  • Development And Housing - $1,002,972.96
  • Environment - $830,650.00
  • Law, Advocacy And Politics - $714,064.17
  • Sports & Rec - $663,933.67
  • Arts And Culture - $541,409.24
  • Education And Research - $417,967.06
  • Religion - $216,400.16
  • Business Associations, … - $194,556.41

QE3. In the last fiscal year, how much revenue – in terms of the total dollar figure – did your organization receive in some form from government? (Base: those with revenues, N=3468) Trimmed Mean dollar figure shown, excluding those who do not have government revenues.

Overall, organizations receiving government funding indicate that they receive half of it from the provincial government

Overall distribution of government revenues

  • Municipal - 23%
  • Provincial - 51%
  • Federal - 24%
  • Another Government - 3%

E4A: Amalgamated variable: average government revenue by source (Base: those with government revenue; N=1798)

  0% 1-24% 25-49% 50-74% 75-99% 100%
Municipal Government 55% 18% 7% 5% 4% 11%
Ontario Government 30% 9% 11% 11% 14% 25%
Federal Government 55% 14% 9% 7% 4% 10%
Another Government 93% 4% 1% 1% 1%  

E4. Approximately what percentage of this government revenue came from each of the following levels of government? (Base: those with government revenue; N=1798)

Health organizations are the most likely to say they receive the bulk of their government funding from the province, while Development & Housing organizations say that they receive 31% of their government funding, on average, from the province

  Municipal Provincial Federal Another Government Tracking (% Change in share of provincial funding from NSNVO)
Overall Distribution 23% 51% 24% 3% n/a
Health 7% 78% 14% 1% -4
Law & Advocacy 10% 76% 13% 2% +49
Sports & Rec 25% 60% 15% 1% +9
Social Services 23% 56% 19% 3% -23
Other 16% 54% 27% 2% +39
Education 17% 53% 25% 5% -19
Business Associations 20% 52% 26% 2% +21
Grantmaking 25% 47% 24% 5% -33
Environment 19% 45% 31% 5% -34
Arts And Culture 32% 42% 25% 2% +9
Religion 6% 35% 55% 3% -25
Development 45% 31% 19% 5% -14

E4A: Amalgamated variable: average government revenue by source (Base: those with government revenue; N=1798) Overall Distribution

E4. Approximately what percentage of this government revenue came from each of the following levels of government? (Base: those with government revenue; N=1798)

Organizational Challenges

Key Findings: Organizational Challenges

Despite the high average declared revenues of organizations, many organizations list funding and revenue generation as a key challenge for their operations,

  • Two-thirds say that the amount of funding on which they operate makes it challenging to meet their immediate, day to day needs.
  • Three-quarters say that the amount of funding on which they operate makes it a challenge to meet their organization’s mandate or operational objectives.

Concern with respect to meeting immediate needs is highest among Development & Housing organizations (81%) and lowest among International Activities organizations (45%).

  • Notably, International Activities organizations are also among the most likely to report revenue increases, overall.

Organizations’ articulated priorities for themselves reflect both their outward charitable missions and goals, as well as their internal financial needs in order to remain sustainable

  • Two of the top four priorities concern organizational ability to serve communities and meet needs (19% and 16%), and the other two concern securing additional funding (17% and 15%).
  • These match well with articulated priorities for government: 44% list assistance with the funding process as their top message to government, while 37% feel the province should be more supportive in capacity building. Three-in-ten feel the province should become more involved in promoting and raising the profile of the sector.

Two-thirds of organizations say that having sufficient revenues to meet the organization’s day-to-day, immediate needs is a challenge for them

Total Challenging: 66% Total Not Challenging: 33%
Very Challenging (9,10) 34% Slightly Challenging (3,4,5) 22%
Somewhat Challenging (6,7,8) 32% Not Challenging (1,2) 11%

Mean score for scale: 6.73

F1. On a scale of 1-10 where 1 means not at all challenging and 10 means very challenging, how would you rate the level of challenge your organization experiences with regard to the following: Having sufficient revenues to meet the organization’s day-to-day, immediate needs? (Base: Online, N=1628)

Three-quarters of organizations say that having sufficient revenues to meet the organization’s mission and objectives is a challenge for them

Total Challenging: 75% Total Not Challenging: 24%
Very Challenging (9,10) 41% Slightly Challenging (3,4,5) 17%
Somewhat Challenging (6,7,8) 34% Not Challenging (1,2) 7%

Mean score for scale: 7.32

F1. On a scale of 1-10 where 1 means not at all challenging and 10 means very challenging, how would you rate the level of challenge your organization experiences with regard to the following: Having sufficient revenues to meet the organization’s mission and objectives through programs and services? (Base: Online, N=1628)

Most organizations say that having enough funding to meet their immediate needs or mandates presents challenges at least to some degree

  % 6-10: Immediate Needs “Problem” Mean Score (1-10 Scale) % 6-10: Funding Needs “Problem” Mean Score (1-10 Scale)
Religion 61% 6 65% 7
Sports & Recreation 64% 6 78% 7
Grant-making 48% 5 63% 6
Social Services 73% 7 82% 8
Development & Housing 81% 7 77% 8
Arts & Culture 73% 7 79% 8
Education & Research 59% 6 70% 7
Business Associations 61% 7 71% 7
Health 62% 7 76% 7
Environment 63% 7 70% 7
Law, Advocacy & Politics 66% 7 84% 8
International Activities 45% 6 64% 6
Other 69% 7 80% 8

Six-in-ten organizations identify a funding issue as their greatest challenge (63%)

This includes insufficient operating funds (25%), competition for funding (13%), operating costs (12%),dependence on a single (7%) or government source (6%)

Insufficient Operating Funds 25%
Lack Of Human Resources 14%
Competition for Limited Funds 13%
Operating Costs 12%
Demand Outpaces Capacity 11%
Dependent on Single Funding Source 7%
Too Dependent on Government Funding 6%
Lack Of Space 4%
Operational Skills 2%
Insufficient Demand For Services 2%
Donor Engagement/Educating the Public 1%

Funding is not a new issue to NFPs: in 2003, organizations identified obtaining funding as one of the most serious problems facing organizations, alongside difficulty in planning for the future

QF3. What is your organization’s greatest operational challenge? (Base: Online, N=1628)

Four-in-ten specifically identify assistance with the funding process as a top issue that they would like the provincial government to address, followed by supporting capacity-building (including funding)

Provide More Assistance With The Funding Process 44%
Support Capacity Building 37%
Build More Public Awareness And Support For The Sector 31%
Broker Relationships With TheBusiness Sector 16%
Encourage Partnerships 14%
Communicate Better With The Sector 11%
Share Best Practices 11%
Foster Shared Services 7%
Provide Financial Support/Tax Incentives/Reduce Overhead 2%
Decrease Regulatory Burden 2%

Development & Housing organizations (70%), Sports & Recreation NFPs (59%), and Environmental Groups (57%) are the most likely to articulate that they would like more assistance with the funding process

Grant-Making organizations are most interested in having the provincial government promote the sector to build awareness and support (42%)

QF4N. What should be the provincial government’s top two priorities when it comes to the not-for-profit sector? (Base: Online; N=1628) Multiple Response Variable, Totals may add to more than 100%

Organizational goals are both outward facing and internal: for 35%, top goals involve meeting community needs and expanding their reach; for 32%, finding additional revenues or improving financial stability is their top goal

Meeting The Needs Of Our Communities 19%
Finding More Revenue Sources 17%
Expanding Current Programs To Reach More People 16%
Improving Financial Stability 15%
Building Organizational Capacity 9%
Increasing Public Awareness Of Your Issue Or Cause 7%
Expanding Volunteer Base 6%
Delivering Programs More Efficiently 3%
Developing New Programs 3%

Sports and recreation organizations were more often interested in expanding current program offerings than any other issue (21%), while environmental organizations most highly prioritized finding revenue sources and improving financial stability (both 19%)

QF5. What is your organization’s single most important goal over the next five years? (Base: Online, N=1628)


Two-thirds of organizations are registered charities, while six-in-ten organizations are registered NFPs. In total, more than nine-in-ten organizations fit either or both of these categories

Registered Charity 38%
Incorporated NFP 33%
Both Charity and NFP 27%
Community NFP 1%
Unincorporated Branch/Chapter of NFP 1%
Incorporated Intermediary or Network <1%

A2. Can you please specify which of the following statements best describes your organization? Is it a…(Base: All organizations, N=3567)

Appendix A: Research Process

Research Process

As noted above, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration contracted Pollara, a national public opinion research firm, to conduct a two-phase research study. The topics of this research were structured to allow the Ministry to develop a baseline of reliable data on the sector, identify emerging issues, and employ the research results in the identification and discussion of points of further study. In particular, the research was to cover:

  • The size and scope of the Not-for-Profit sector in Ontario;
  • The economic contribution (in terms of revenues, staffing, and volunteer numbers) of the sector to the province;
  • The current human resources of the sector, both in terms of paid staff and volunteers; and,
  • Comparison of results of research to previous findings.

In the first phase of research, Pollara summarized and analyzed the submitted T3010 Charitable Return data for Ontario registered charities available through the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”). This provided an overview as to the size and scope of a substantial portion of the sector, as represented by registered charities submitting returns to the Canada Revenue Agency. Subsequent to this first phase of research, Pollara undertook a quantitative study of Ontario Not-for-Profit organizations (“NFPs”; inclusive of registered charities, incorporated not-for-profits and unincorporated community organizations operating on a not-for-profit basis) in an effort to further understand the sector and fulfill the objectives of research.

The approach employed for the Phase II Not-for-Profit (NFP) and Charitable Sector Survey reflected a review of literature and results of previous research, including the National Survey of Non-profit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO 2003) conducted by a consortium including Imagine Canada and Statistics Canada; and, a review of the system of designating and categorizing organizations into sub-sectors designed by the International Classification of Non-profit Organizations (ICNPO). Pollara researchers also contacted and spoke with several scholars conducting research in this area, and reviewed the reports of available findings in the sector.

The approach also reflects understandings of the sector stemming from the Phase I review of T3010 tax return data of reporting charities in Ontario. From this understanding, it was determined by discussion among the project team that “non- core” organizations, that is, universities and colleges, public and catholic schools and their boards, public libraries, and hospitals would be excluded from the Phase II survey, on account of the characteristics of these organizations being substantially different from others in the broader Not-for-Profit and Charitable sector. These differences included but were not limited to revenues, in particular, sources of government revenue, as well as expenditures, total staffing levels, and their organizational mandates.

Subsequent to the review of past data and information, Pollara researchers constructed a Phase II questionnaire, which was then reviewed by Ministry staff, as well as a core group of NFP sector stakeholders. After a thorough process of editing and review, the questionnaire was finalized, translated to be available in both English and French, and programmed for online and telephone fielding.

Pollara procured and prepared an amalgamated sample file generated from several sources, including information provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, contact information publicly listed through the T3010 CRA return files, Ontario’s existing business directory of incorporated not-for-profit organizations, and existing third-party lists. This sample was merged and de-duplicated, and best efforts were made to ensure the completeness and recency of the contact information available. E- mail Invitations were issued to organizations in the sample file with an email address, while telephone interviewers dialled organizations for whom only a telephone number was available.

Telephone Interviewing: telephone interviews commenced October 26th, 2012 and concluded January 28th, 2013. Interviewers were able to conduct the telephone survey, accept referrals to appropriate respondents, schedule an appointment for the survey’s conduct, and re-dial non-responding numbers. Non-responding numbers were dialled no fewer than 8 occasions, up to a maximum of 10 attempts, whereby the sample record was considered exhausted. In total, telephone surveying yielded 1,939 completed surveys, all of which are included in the total analysis.

Online Interviewing: Email invitations were issued on November 9th, 2012, and the online survey remained open until February 15th, 2013. Email reminders were issued November 21st, and December 16th, 2012, and later on January 15th, January 28th, February 6th and 12th, 2013. Late in December, an incentive was introduced in order to encourage organizations to complete the survey, and in January, the Ontario Trillium Foundation issued a direct appeal to its applicant pool in order to encourage participation in the research project. In total, the online survey received 1,630 responses, 1,628 of which are included in the total analysis.

At the conclusion of field, data were reviewed for completeness and uniqueness, in order to ensure that one organization did not inadvertently complete the survey through multiple methods, or on multiple occasions. Responses to open-ended questions were categorized into like codes, and data were tabulated for analysis. Results shown here reflect the total data tabulated for each question, with accompanying analysis of differences between and among sub-groups (such as sub- sectors “Religion” and “Arts & Culture”, or Registered Charities compared to Incorporated NFPs) as well as tracking or past data.

Along these lines, the pages above contain comparative references to surveys and other population data that may have followed methodologies that differ from that employed for this research. In particular, the 2003 NSNVO survey was conducted exclusively by telephone, and included a sample selection process carried out over two phases: first, a phase of contact to confirm the existence and status of selected Not-for-Profit organizations in Canada for which only limited information was available, and the second, to collect the detailed information contained in the survey among a large, selected population. By contrast, this 2012 State of the Sector survey employed an attempted census approach among online respondents, and a loose quota structure in the telephone survey among all organizations for which contact information was available. As well, this survey employed online and telephone methods to make contact and collect information in a single interview. Despite these differences in core methodology, responses to specific questions concerning the geographic reach and service area of organizations, as well as the distribution of organizations across the province, suggest that the NSNVO and these Phase II results may be compared, but to a point: some caution is warranted on account of the variance in methodology and survey time period (2003 and 2012).

Appendix B: Detailed Methodology


As noted, in early 2012, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration contracted Pollara to conduct a sector analysis of Not-For-Profit organizations in Ontario. This project comprised two primary phases:

  • Phase 1: A review of the T3010 Charitable Information Return data for Ontario organizations with charitable status; and,
  • Phase 2: A quantitative survey of NFP Organizations.

The results above are compiled from the Phase 2 survey, conducted both by telephone and online approaches. The online survey launched on November 9th, 2012, and ran until February 15th, 2013. In this period, a total of 1,630 participants completed the online survey. After data checks for data completions and duplication, 1,628 records from the online survey are included in this analysis. The telephone survey reached a total of 1,939 respondents between October 26th, 2012 and January 28th, 2013. After checks for data completions and duplication, all of these records from the telephone survey are included in the analysis.

This second-stage process was undertaken in two ways: an attempted census among online records, and a loose quota structure among telephone respondents. A randomly-sampled survey of this size would have an overall margin of error of +/-1.59%, nineteen times out of twenty, and will be higher among sub-groups, as noted:

  Overall Religion Sports & Recreation Grant-Making Social Services Development & Housing Arts & Culture
Sample Size 3567 714 471 279 634 153 446
Margin of Error ±1.59% ±3.55% ±4.38% ±5.69% ±3.77% ±7.68% ±4.5%
  Education Business Assoc’s Health Environment Law & Advocacy International Other
Sample Size 286 75 179 121 73 36 92
Margin of Error ±5.62% ±10.97% ±7.1% ±8.64% ±11.12% ±15.84% ±9.9%

Sampling and Approach

In constructing the potential universe of organizations to be sampled for this phase II survey, Pollara employed a variety of sources:

  • Contact information available on T3010 Information Returns, accurate as of February 2010;
  • Contact information provided by grant applicants to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, dating back three years;
  • Contact information of businesses with Standard Industry Classification codes indicating a Not-for-Profit operation independently sourced by Pollara; and,
  • A register of Incorporated Not-for-Profit organizations provided by the Ministry of Government Services.

These four sources were de-duplicated to keep the most recently available contact information, and then compared against existing business database sample to ensure as much contact information as possible was appended to each record.

This process rendered a total sample database of 70,915 records, which were split among the two methodologies: those for which email addresses were available were sent an email invitation to complete the survey, while those for whom telephone information was available – but no email address – were called to complete the survey

  • A total of 31,834 telephone records were loaded into the sample, of which 21,770 were considered valid telephone numbers
  • A total of 18,896 email records were loaded into the sample, of which 14,546 were considered valid email addresses
  • 20,185 records had neither telephone nor email contact information that could be used for this survey

For the telephone survey, Pollara employed a loose quota structure based on the 2003 NSNVO Ontario results, which was intended to ensure sufficient representation among the 13 sub-sectors to analyze results. For the online survey, Pollara did not restrict the number of respondents in a given sub-sector or demographic segment, within the limits of the project’s scope (e.g., for-profit organizations were terminated from the survey).

Response and Analysis of Results

Midway through the field period, Pollara and the Ministry sought to increase response and uptake of the online survey. With the assistance of the Ontario Trillium foundation, organizations were encouraged to complete the online survey, and to indicate their interest if they had not already been invited. This second-stage invitation yielded an additional 129 online survey invitations to respondents who were not already contacted in the initial survey invitation, either by phone or email.

At the conclusion of the field period, a total of 1,939 telephone responses and 1,628 online responses were collected and analyzed, yielding an overall response rate to the survey of 12% for the phone survey, and 16% for the online survey.

Results were then analyzed and tabulated, and tabulated data are reflected in the report above.

Upon request from the Ministry, Pollara conducted an extrapolation of data to apply the survey results to the broader Notfor-Profit and Charitable Sector in Ontario. Where applicable, results have been extrapolated to render province wide sums or averages. It must be noted that these sums or averages are presented with the following caveats:

  • Extrapolations are based on an estimated total number of Not-for-Profit/Charitable organizations in Ontario, as determined by:
    • Total number of valid sample cases loaded/invited, plus
    • Total number of sample cases with no call/email information, but which appeared in the validated sample file, and were determined to be existing and active Not-for-Profit organizations in the core sector
  • This calculation yielded 50,905 as the total estimated number of active Ontario Not-for-Profit and Charitable organizations.
  • In extrapolation calculations, this total is distributed according to the proportions of each sub-sector analyzed as they appear in the survey; accordingly, margins of error apply to the extrapolated totals;
  • There are indications that there is a notable level of response error in some questions, particularly financials; accordingly, Pollara has used a trimmed mean to determine the appropriate extrapolation values. Average values (mean amounts) were trimmed of values that exceeded or were lower than two Standard Deviations away from the original mean average.
  • Data are extrapolated employing a cross-multiplication or similar process, and not through full-scale econometric modeling; and,
  • Though we have extrapolated a total possible number of Not-for-Profit/Charitable organizations in Ontario, this is an estimate, and may not reflect the actual universe, nor the distribution of organizations among sub-sectors.

Accordingly, extrapolated amounts or totals should be considered rough estimates and treated as the general midpoint of a range based on the applicable group’s margin of error.

Common Terminology Used in this Report


In the context of this report, this term refers to the total sector, including Incorporated and Unincorporated Not-for-Profit organizations, Charities, and Community Organizations.


The National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations was conducted in 2003 by a consortium including Imagine Canada, Statistics Canada, and the Canadian Council on Social Development. This national survey sought the responses of organizations similar to this study, but also included public-sector organizations such as hospitals and universities & colleges. The NSNVO also served as the primary framework for the questionnaire used in this study, and accordingly some questions will feature comparison tracking from the 2003 survey.

Core Sector:

This refers to organizations in the Not-for-Profit and Charitable sector which fall outside the public sector (for example, they are not public schools or boards; public libraries; hospitals, universities or colleges). In this second phase of research the “Core Sector” comprises the total sample surveyed.


International Classification of Non-Profit Organizations; the international standard system for classifying Not-for-Profitand Charitable organizations, applied here.

Sub-Sectors :

Classification system of organizations based on primary activity; list generated based on ICNPO and NSNVO descriptions. Also, the source of the list of sub-sector reports that will be generated (assuming sufficient completion data to warrant analysis). These sub-sectors include:

  • Religion
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Grant-Making, Fundraising, or Voluntarism Promotion
  • Social Services
  • Development & Housing
  • Arts & Culture
  • Education & Research
  • Business or Professional Associations or Unions
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Law, Advocacy & Politics
  • International Activities
  • Other

Margin of Error:

A statistical term to denote the amount of random sampling error in a survey’s results Specifically, it is the statistical measure of confidence that a given result occurs within a total population, within a given range, if the research was to be repeated in a similar context and set of circumstances.


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Updated: July 14, 2021
Published: April 11, 2017