Myths & Facts

The nonprofit and charitable sector in Canada, which is strongly female dominated, is rapidly growing and currently represents 11 per cent of the working population. With such a large and dynamic industry, there are a number of misconceptions about what nonprofits are and what they do. Let’s set the record straight; we’ve separated myth from fact.

  • Myth #1: The nonprofit sector does not contribute to the economy.

    Fact:  The sector represents $106 billion or 8.1% of the GDP  – larger than the automotive or manufacturing industries!

    Source:  Imagine Canada

  • Myth #2: There are very few jobs in the nonprofit sector.

    Fact:  Two million people are employed by nonprofit organizations, which represents 11.1% of the economically active population in Canada.

    Source:  Imagine Canada

  • Myth #3: The nonprofit sector only consists of hospitals and hospital foundations.

    Fact:  Hospital and hospital foundations are certainly part of the nonprofit sector, but so are universities and colleges, large world-class cultural institutions (museums, symphony orchestras, etc.), as well as organizations funding health research, focusing on social services, environmental protection, sports and recreation, religion and international development.

  • Myth #4: You don’t get paid to work in the charitable sector.

    Fact:  Yes you do!  Many charities are multi-million dollar organizations, tackling some of the most intractable social, health, cultural and environmental challenges, and dealing with extremely complex management issues. They operate in the same national and international labour market as other employers. If the market dictates that a certain combination of skills, experience, and responsibilities merits a particular level of compensation, then charities need to take this into account when making their compensation decisions.

    Source:  Imagine Canada Statement on Employee Compensation in the Charitable and Nonprofit Sector, Released:  July 19, 2011, Updated: February 28, 2012

  • Myth #5: I won’t be able to find an interesting job in the nonprofit sector.

    Fact:  Sites like charityvillage.com, charityworldworks.ca, idealist.org, and pillarnonprofit.ca post paid job opportunities regularly for a variety of dynamic organizations.  Sample job titles include Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Program Manager, Events Director, Project Manager, Outreach Advocate, Controller, Chapter Relations Director, Business and Grant Manager, Educator Coordinator – to name a few.

  • Myth #6: Nonprofit organizations solely rely on donations and volunteer work to fulfill their missions.

    Fact:  In addition to using personal gifts (memberships and planned giving) and donations to fund their operations, many nonprofit organizations rely on a combination of funds from corporate gifts and donations, granting agencies and foundations, equity and loan capital, as well as social enterprises.

  • Myth #7: There is no job security in the nonprofit sector.

    Fact:  71% of nonprofit sector employees hold full-time, permanent positions.

    Source:  HR Council