How significant is British Columbia’s non-profit sector?
Approximately 31,000 non-profit organizations provide vital services to the province’s communities, together representing 335,000 jobs and contributing $28 billion to the B.C. economy.
Like many, non-profits are seeing increased demand for services, while navigating transitioning pandemic challenges, staffing shortages and increased costs. So how is the sector faring now, and what does the future look like?
Those are the questions explored in the 2023 State of BC’s Non-Profit Sector: Safety Net, a collaboration between Vantage Point, Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver and the Victoria Foundation, along with the Vancity Community Foundation and United Way BC.
Navigating times of transition
This year’s report provides a snapshot of the trends, challenges, opportunities and successes for B.C.’s non-profits during a period of transition.
Transition from COVID-related emergency funding supports to the BC Recovery and Resiliency Fund. Transition from historic low interest rates to high inflation paired with a housing crisis and unpredictable impacts of climate events.
So, how are B.C. non-profits doing?
Despite ongoing pressure, B.C.’s non-profits are working to lift communities and their workforce.
The survey found that non-profits are doing more to meet increasing program and service demands, while also doing more to take care of staff with increased wages and benefits.
However, revenues are staying the same as expenses increase. So, while there’s a sense of stabilization in the sector, organizations are concerned about sustainability as they face increasing costs and staffing pressures.
The bottom line: There is hope for the future, but still work to be done.
Priority areas that require immediate action include capacity-building investments, expanding trust-based funding practices and workforce development strategies.
This year’s report underscores the need to increase the sector’s capacity to be a decent employer through job creation investments and strategies. It also calls on the sector’s partners and leaders to bolster the internal strengths of the sector with external supports to sustain community-serving programs.
“There are signs of stabilization in the sector. Feelings of hope and motivation exist among some non-profits. The sector, by nature, is driven by and exists because of a future-oriented vision and a strong commitment to meeting community needs,” the report’s authors note. “B.C.’s non-profit sector has continued to exist and evolve despite precarity in the past. But respondents to this year’s survey couched references to optimism within clear concerns about sustainability and the ability to thrive in the face of increasing cost and staffing pressures.”