Nonprofit sector surveys - Ontario Nonprofit Network

Nonprofit sector surveys

2023 realities for Ontario’s nonprofit sector

From June – July 2023, ONN conducted our fourth annual sector-wide survey to gather critical data on the state of Ontario’s nonprofits regarding their financial health, staffing and volunteers, and general operations. Nearly 1,400 nonprofits, charities, and grassroots groups across the province responded to the survey. We have developed a number of resources for nonprofits to help them use this new sector data, including a policy report with recommendations for government and our sector, and a technical report with data highlights.

Trends over four years reveal:

  • Demand for nonprofit services is at an all time high over the four year period of ONN surveying, and has grown 29% since 2020.
  • Nonprofit financial situations are on a downward spiral. 
  • Two thirds of the sector is facing staffing challenges, specifically around recruitment and retention.
  • Nonprofit closure reports have increased, now sitting at 35% of organizations reporting that they know of another similar nonprofit closing. 
  • Over the four year period, only half the sector has reported marginal increases in revenue, while 90% this year have reported an increase in expenditures.
  • More than other sectors and industries, nonprofits are at the whims of our context. For nonprofits, community crises translate into increase in demand for services usually without additional support, and broader economic uncertainty and austerity means declining donations and government funding.

Despite challenges, nonprofits are continuing to bring immense value to their communities all over Ontario. In this year’s survey, nonprofits shared how they are operating safe consumption sites, implementing HIV programming, assisting children from low-income families to access organized sports, training artists with entrepreneurial skills for sustainable employment, supporting refugees from across the world, and much more. 

What happens if things don’t change?

If nothing changes by 2026, cutbacks, waitlists, and nonprofit closures will reach devastating levels – impacting people in every community across the province. Service provision will be untenable due to decreased funding and increased costs, and lack of skilled staff to address significant societal needs.

These continued downward trends have the potential to bring the nonprofit sector in Ontario to the brink of collapse.

ONN analysis and forecasting focused on demand for services, nonprofit sustainability, costs, and closures shows that by 2026: 

  • Every single nonprofit in Ontario will be experiencing an increase in demand for service.
  • Only 17% of nonprofits will  forecast financial sustainability for 12 months or more.
  • Nonprofits will see a 131% increase in costs.
  • There will be 63% of nonprofits knowing of similar organizations closing down and ceasing operations.

The loss of nonprofits and the benefits they provide will lead to less economically viable, less socially vibrant, and less connected communities.

ONN’s policy recommendations for government remain the same:

  • Create a home in government for the sector to efficiently work with Ontario’s 58,000 nonprofits and charities.
  • Future-proof Ontarians’ social infrastructure.
  • Invest in nonprofits and grassroots groups serving equity-deserving communities.
  • Support the sector to build a resilient nonprofit workforce for the future.
  • Modernize volunteerism.

We will be hosting a free webinar for nonprofits on November 29, 2023 to discuss how the sector can use this data in their advocacy efforts. 

Report resources:

Survey partners

We are grateful to our survey partners for helping us reach nonprofits and charities across Ontario:

Ontario Trillium Foundation
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