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Policy Priority: Data for effective decision making

collage of charities
Policy priority: Data is needed for effective decision making for and by our sector

A lack of economic, organizational and employment data on the nonprofit sector means that public policy, funding and organizational decision making is done without basic information.

Why it matters
Good policy is informed by strong evidence. The lack of data on the nonprofit sector collected by the federal government hinders the ability of policymakers at all levels of government to make sound policy decisions about our sector. The nonprofit sector itself also lacks comprehensive data on who we are as organizations, critical human resources data on nonprofits and charities, and essential macroeconomic sector data. 
Did you know?
  • There is currently no publicly available list of all nonprofit organizations in Canada, and no comprehensive source of information about how many organizations there are, where they are located, who they serve, or what they do.
  • The sector lacks critical labour market data on both charities and nonprofits, leading to an inability to conduct labour force planning and understand basic facts related to workforce composition, skills and compensation.
  • Statistics Canada does not have a mandate to collect data about the nonprofit sector, unlike for many other industries of similar or smaller size.
Our ask
  • That Statistics Canada be funded to create a nonprofit advisory committee with a mandate to improve data collection, analysis and release practices related to the sector. This committee must include meaningful representation of organizations from equity-seeking, rural, remote, Indigenous and Northern communities. 
  • That the federal government provide Statistics Canada with a mandate to carry out a follow-up to the 2003 National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations. 
  • That the federal government provide Statistics Canada with a clear mandate for data collection on the nonprofit sector. We further ask that Statistics Canada modify ongoing programs to better highlight the role of the nonprofit sector. 
  • The creation of a Nonprofit Sector Data Lab. 


Please see the 2024 pre-budget submission of the Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition for more details.

Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition
In late 2021, we worked with various sector allies to relaunch the Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition (formerly known as the Federal Data Working Group), which was active in previous years but went on hiatus during the pandemic. This group focuses on advancing the nonprofit sector's priorities in terms of data collected and shared by the federal government. In 2023, the group worked to identify challenges and advance opportunities in five areas: nonprofit labour market information, nonprofit diversity and equity data, nonprofit organizational data, nonprofit sector current conditions, and federal/provincial/territorial relations. The group currently includes representatives of 40+ organizations and institutions. If you’re interested in learning more about the Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition or joining, please see this document for more details and get in touch at
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