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Equity Benchmarking Project

People working together
The Equity Benchmarking Project

Advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the nonprofit sector

Photo credit: Copa National
Project Description & Goals

The Equity Benchmarking Project is a research and knowledge mobilization project intended to improve the understanding of what Canadian charities and nonprofits are doing to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

The initiative is led by a working group of the Equitable Recovery Collective, a group of nonprofit organizations working to advance equity in nonprofit sector policy, foster a more equitable funding environment, and build sector-wide capacity to advance equity in nonprofit organizations. 

The goals of the Equity Benchmarking Project are to:

  1. Advance equity by building relationships with a wide range of charitable and nonprofit organizations and equity-seeking groups
  2. Increase awareness of the different facets of equity including intersectionality, anti-racism and anti-oppression, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, reconciliation and decolonization
  3. Determine courses of action the sector can take to evolve in these areas; and where practice-based experts want the sector to go
  4. Contribute to greater equity in the sector and Canadian communities


The project is following a participatory action research approach, seeking to build relationships with those most affected by inequitable practices in the sector and create change for the better.

We hope that the results of the project will help individual organizations and networks set goals, and measure and track their progress in relation to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Literature Review

We completed a review of the academic and non-academic literature on equity to inform the project and contribute to the body of knowledge available to the sector. 

The literature review contains an overview of key terms (diversity, inclusion, equality, equity, intersectionality, anti-racism, anti-oppression, white supremacy, decolonization) and leading approaches (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI or EDI); Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression (ARAO); Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion(JEDI)) related to equity. It also discusses the current state of equity in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. 

Engagement Sessions

We held a series of facilitated engagement sessions with a range of stakeholder groups. The aim of the engagement sessions was to understand how various stakeholder groups conceptualize justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and barriers that have prevented the sector from adopting equitable practices. The results of the engagement sessions were used to develop the survey and will also be used in the knowledge mobilization phase of the project.


A central component of this project is a survey of Canadian charities and nonprofits. The survey was conducted online between August 18 and October 31, 2022. A total of 1,655 organizations participated. Respondents were asked about:

  • Their organization’s policies and practices in relation to equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Their collection and use of equity-related information
  • The factors that enable and hinder their efforts to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Their opinions about equity, diversity and inclusion 


We also collected data on organizational characteristics such as size, location and mission; on the population(s) served; and on the characteristics of their leaders.  

Survey results will be published in April 2023. 

Check out our Get Involved section to sign up for updates.

Get Involved

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about the Equity Benchmarking Project, email us at

We also invite you to sign up for our mailing list to receive project updates.

Sign-up for updates on the Equity Benchmarking Project


This project is made possible thanks to generous support from our Lead Partner, Scotiabank

Imagine Canada is also grateful for the support and participation of our Sector Partner, Canadian Red Cross. We would also like to acknowledge the support of our Knowledge Partners,  Community Foundations of Canada and KCI.

Lead Partner
Sector Partner
Knowledge Partners