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Sector Monitor Surveys

Taking the pulse of the nonprofit sector
Sector Monitor Surveys

Providing relevant and timely information on the issues facing charities and nonprofits since 2009.

Latest Study
Sector Monitor: The uneven impact of the pandemic on Canadian charities

Mirroring what is observed in the economy as a whole, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the charitable sector unevenly. 

Over a year since the beginning of the crisis, more than 50% of charities continue to struggle while others are doing better. From drastic revenue declines to demand surpassing capacity, the situation is still precarious for many organizations, which could have important effects on the communities they serve.

What is the Sector Monitor?

Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor survey program was launched in 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008 recession to monitor the state of charities and their ability to deliver on their missions as the recovery progressed. Over time, the focus of the program has expanded to cover other timely topics including political activities, the role of earned income, evaluation, labour force issues, and social finance.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the focus of the Sector Monitor shifted to assessing the impact of the pandemic on charities. Since then, three Sector Monitor surveys have focused on measuring the impact of the pandemic and key response measures.

Sector Monitor participants are drawn from the senior leadership of registered charities, typically executive directors or board chairs, with one respondent per charity. Surveys are conducted online, with participants receiving personalized email invitations directing them to an interactive website where they can complete the survey on behalf of their organization.

Recent waves of the survey have reached between 4,500 and 4,800 individuals with response rates ranging from 23.6% to 32.0% (1,089 to 1,458 completed surveys) per wave.

Historically, participation in most Sector Monitor surveys has been limited to charities with annual revenues of $30,000+that are not religious congregations. About half of potential survey participants are from a convenience sample drawn from the memberships of Imagine Canada and 22 partner organizations and the other half from a randomly drawn sample of Canadian charities. Survey responses are weighted by revenue size, region, and activity area to produce estimates that better reflect the population of in-scope Canadian charities.

We are currently working to expand the scope of the program to include nonprofit organizations without charitable status.

Past studies

Explore over 10 years of research on trends and issues affecting Canadian charities including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on charities, social finance, evaluation practices, political and earned income activities, and the impact of the 2008-09 recession on charities.


COVID-19 Pandemic

Sector Monitor: The Uneven Impact of the Pandemic on Canadian Charities (August 2021; PDF)

Sector Monitor: Ongoing Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic (February 2021; PDF)

Sector Monitor: Charities & the COVID-19 Pandemic (May 2020; PDF)


Social Finance

Are Charities Ready for Social Finance? Investment Readiness in Canada's Charitable Sector (2020; PDF)


Evaluation Practices

State of Evaluation - National (2019)

State of Evaluation in Canada: Arts, Culture & Recreation Charities (2019; PDF)

State of Evaluation in Canada: Education & Research Charities (2019; PDF)

State of Evaluation in Canada: Health Charities (2019; PDF)

State of Evaluation in Canada: Social Services Charities (2019; PDF)

State of Evaluation in Canada: The Role of Funders (2019; PDF)

State of Evaluation - Ontario (2018; PDF)


Political Activities

Sector Monitor: Public Policy Activities (2016; PDF)


Earned Income

Earned Income-Generating Activities Among Canadian Charities (2013; PDF)


Recession of 2008-09

Sector Monitor Vol. 4, No. 1 (2014; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 3, No. 2 (2013; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 3, No. 1 (2012; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 2, No. 2 (2012; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 2, No. 1 (2011; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 1, No. 3 (2011; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 1, No. 2 (2010; PDF)

Sector Monitor Vol. 1, No. 1 (2010; PDF)

Upcoming Studies

The Equity Benchmarking Project is currently preparing to use the Sector Monitor survey platform to better understand what Canadian charities and nonprofits are doing to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Contact us if you have questions or would like more information about the Sector Monitor program.

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