NS Nonprofits

Community Sector organizations employ 7% of Nova Scotia’s workforce, and almost half-a-million Nova Scotians volunteer.

Our sector is a vital part of the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of Nova Scotia. The “core” Community Sector (excluding municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals) employs an estimated 36,000 people. [Imagine Canada research.]

The sector spans the province and can be found in every community in Nova Scotia. Eighty-seven percent of employees in the Nova Scotia Community Sector are women, and 75% have at least one university degree.

Gardner-Pinfold Report on Nova Scotia’s Nonprofit Labour Force.]


Economic Contributions


There are over 6,200 Community Sector organizations in Nova Scotia.

These groups provide services essential to the province’s economy and social well-being. Over 450,000 people volunteer with Community Sector groups, offering 50 million hours each year.

That’s equal to $1.8 billion worth of services to the economy – these services are an important part of our daily lives.

NS Registry of Joint Stocks; Volunteer Canada.]

Social Well-Being

The Community Sector in Nova Scotia offer nearly everything under the sun (or fog): health info, career counselling, environmental education…

We could go on: cultural events, entrepreneurship training, women’s centres, heritage preservation, animal protection.

In general, the Community Sector is based not on economic profit but rather social profit, although fiscal stability and sustainability is critical.

Community Sector Roles

This “third sector” complements both the private sector (i.e., business) and the public sector (i.e., government).

Also called the social profit or nonprofit sector, the groups within it take on many roles:

  • Care of those in need
  • Education and training for work and personal development
  • Advocating for an inclusive society and informed and active citizenship
  • Poverty reduction and equitable distribution of wealth
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Cultural, religious, and recreational activities


The need for services provided by the Community Sector is growing. And despite the education, competence, and skills of the Community Sector workforce, it’s not easy to be a staff member of the social sector:

  • Only 35% of nonprofits in Nova Scotia offer pension plans.
  • Job hopping is frequent as many people are employed on a project-by-project basis, as funding allows.
  • 65% of employees in the N.S. Community Sector earn less than $40,000 (compared with 45% nationally).
  • Many Community Sector organizations are small and offer limited career advancement opportunities.

Community Sector in Canada

Canada’s Community sector is the second largest in the world – the Netherlands has the largest.

There are an estimated 165,000 nonprofits and charities(Community Sector) in Canada, and two million people are employed by these organizations – this represents 11% of our economically active population. The sector represents $106 billion or 7% of Canada’s GDP (larger than the automotive or manufacturing industries).

And 47% of Canadians volunteer, offering 2.1 billion hours (that’s billion with a ‘b’) of services each year.