Canada's nonprofit sector is a huge, vibrant force
that is 50 percent larger than Canada's entire retail
industry, according to groundbreaking research released
last week by Imagine Canada and the Johns Hopkins
Center for Civil Society Studies.
And as a proportion of the entire economy, Canada's
nonprofit sector surpasses that of the United States.
Canada's private nonprofit organizations employ more than
11 percent of the economically active population in the
country, compared to just less than 10 percent in the
United States. Although in raw numbers, the United States
has the largest nonprofit sector, proportionately speaking,
Canada's nonprofit sector is the second largest in the
world, behind only the Netherlands.
"The results of this project demonstrate that Canada
has participated extensively in the global associational
revolution that has been taking place around the world as
governments and citizens have turned to nonprofit
organizations to help address public problems," noted
Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins
These findings are the result of a two-year research
project carried out in Canada as part of the Johns Hopkins
Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project. They supplement
earlier findings of this project demonstrating that the
nonprofit sector constitutes a significant economic force
in countries throughout the world.
In the 37 countries for which data are now available,
nonprofit organizations engage a work force of some 47.6
million full-time-equivalent workers. This is eight times
as many people as are employed in the utilities industry in
these countries and about 20 percent more people than are
employed in the transportation industry.
"We are only just beginning to understand how
important this sector is to our society and to our
economy," said Georgina Steinsky-Schwartz, president and
CEO of Imagine Canada, formerly the Canadian Centre for
Philanthropy. "This research shows that we rank extremely
well internationally, but there is still a lot of work to
be done to improve the sector's capacity to deliver social
and economic benefits to Canadians."
Other highlights of the Canadian findings include the
Canada's nonprofit sector work
force is 11 times larger than the country's motor vehicle
manufacturing industry, and more than four times larger
than its entire agriculture sector. It is more than 50
percent larger than Canada's entire retail trade
Health care organizations employ
nearly 31 percent of the nonprofit work force in Canada,
compared to 14 percent on average in all the countries
covered by the Johns Hopkins project.
Government support accounts for 51
percent of the revenue of Canadian nonprofit organizations,
compared to 39 percent from fees and charges and 9 percent
from all sources of philanthropy. Comparable figures for
all the countries covered by the Johns Hopkins project are
35 percent for government, 53 percent from fees and
charges, and 12 percent from philanthropy.
For more information about the Johns Hopkins
Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, go to