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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 the federal government provide Statistics Canada with a clear mandate to collect comprehensive economic and employment data about our sector, including the development of a means to identify nonprofit sector employees in the collection of labour market information (e.g. Labour Force Surveys). 
  • Federal engagement with the provinces to unlock data on provincially incorporated nonprofit organizations in a comparable and publicly accessible format;
  • The development of a national statistical apparatus to provide similar data about our sector as is provided for other industries, which would allow us to understand more about the sector’s labour market inputs and outputs; and
  • A commitment to continue regular updates to the Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and volunteering, for basic macroeconomic data.
Federal Data Working Group
In late 2021, we worked with various sector allies to relaunch 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 2022, the group will be working to identify  challenges and advance opportunities in seven areas: census data, labour market information, measuring diversity on nonprofit boards, the Disaggregated Data Action Plan, the Linked File Environment, the Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and Volunteering,and the Canada Survey of Business Conditions. The group currently includes representatives of 20+ organizations and institutions. If you’re interested in learning more about the Federal Data Working Group, please get in touch at publicpolicy@imaginecanada.ca.
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