Pulse Check COVID-19 Pandemic Surveys - Ontario Nonprofit Network

Pulse Check COVID-19 Pandemic Surveys

COVID-19 Pulse Check COVID-19 Pandemic Surveys

State of Ontario’s nonprofit sector in 2022

From May – June 2022, ONN conducted a sector-wide survey with l’Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (l’AFO) to gather critical data on the state of Ontario’s nonprofits regarding their financial health, staffing and volunteers, and general operations. Nearly 1,500 nonprofits, charities, and grassroots groups across the province responded to the survey. 

The data reveals much about nonprofits’ commitment to continue serving communities, while addressing fallout from the pandemic alongside unprecedented demand for services, and a domino effect of record-breaking inflation, deepening financial precarity, and a relentless HR and volunteer crisis. It’s clear that current solutions are not working and the sector’s health is worsening. For organizations delivering services on behalf of government, transfer payment agreements have not kept up with the true cost of delivering services over the years, and have actually declined when inflation is factored in. There is an urgent need for a coordinated sector response and long-term public policy solutions to not only mitigate challenges nonprofits are facing now, but also to prepare us for future emergencies. 

This year, we added new indicators in an effort to shine a light on the specific impacts on organizations and groups that are often overlooked and underrepresented in policymaking due to systemic racism and colonialism. Respondents were asked to indicate if they identified as Black-lead, -serving, and/or -focused, and/or Indigenous-led, -informed, -benefitting, or, -partnership. We will continue to build on this data, working with network partners. 

Key findings

  • Demand for nonprofit services is higher than ever before as communities turn to nonprofits for support as they face more complex and ongoing social issues. 
  • Inflation is rapidly increasing costs while revenues decrease. While for-profits can increase prices and fees, nonprofits who charge for their services do not have the same flexibility in pricing and cost-cutting as it would mean less accessibility and lower quality of vital community services.
  • Nonprofits are experiencing a relentless HR crisis. Organizations have been ringing the alarm on the HR crisis for almost a year during a time when it is more important than ever to recruit and retain the best people to carry out our sector’s community-oriented missions and address the most complex social problems of our time.
  • Volunteers are not returning, a considerable concern in a sector where almost half of organizations are volunteer-run.
  • Government pandemic supports failed to reach and benefit many nonprofits.
  • Francophone nonprofits are also struggling to recruit and retain their workforce and the lack of qualified candidates and competition for staff make growth and stability of organizations difficult.

Calls to action for the nonprofit sector 

  1. Connect and convene across subsectors and regions to share information, such as aligning on minimum standards for wages and administrative costs for funding opportunities and contracts.
  2. Ally with workers, unions, employers of all sizes in the sector, and communities to make it clear to the public the alarming situation of the sector and the cost of not supporting nonprofits.
  3. Amplify the recommendations to the provincial government in your public policy and advocacy work.

Report resources:

COVID-19: State of the sector one year later

Small square photos of diverse people in a rectangle collage

In May 2021, ONN conducted a sector-wide survey with l’Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (l’AFO) to gather critical data needed to help the sector build back from COVID-19. Nearly 3,000 nonprofits all around the province responded to our survey.  

The data reveals much about nonprofits’ commitment to continue serving communities, the fragmented and inadequate government measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and the work ahead as Ontario transitions into a recovery.

There are five key policy recommendations for long-term investment and public policy that recognize the central role nonprofits play locally and across regions to advance a better, greener, more equitable economy and a more inclusive society. 

Graphic with numbered list of policy recommendations, each with icon, text alternates between blue and green

Report resources

Survey partners

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



We are grateful to Definity Foundation for being a Connector+.
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