Canada’s non-profit sector is a $100 billion industry. According to StatsCan, the sector is responsible for more than 7% of Canadian GDP and this contribution has been growing disproportionally to the economy as a whole. Employing more than 2 million people, the non-profit sector is a significantly larger employer than all Canadian manufacturing put together.
Inevitable government cuts have left Canadian charities increasingly dependent on private and individual support. However, those sources are far from secure. The Fraser Institute has reported a decline in the average donations Canadian’s make to charity (as a percentage of income) and Canada Revenue Agency data shows a steady decline in the number of people claiming deductions for charitable donations.
“Most Canadians say they give, but we are seeing a decline in giving behavior over the years,” commented John Hallward, Chairman of GIV3, an organization that encourages greater philanthropy.
The social impact of a declining non-profit sector is evident. Non-profits provide many services to communities, some of which are traditionally the responsibility of government - either delivered at the government’s behest or having been off-loaded. The economic impact is less understood. “If we saw this kind of threat in the Canadian manufacturing sector, alarm bells would be going off,” said Hallward. “And the non-profit sector employs many more Canadians.”
GIV3 points out that a small change in giving behavior will have a large and lasting positive impact: If Canadians give just 1% of income to charity on average; it will mean an additional $2 Billion for charity each year.