The State of the Nonprofit Sector in Nova Scotia

The Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia (CSCNS) commissioned the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) to survey the Nonprofit Sector in Nova Scotia. APEC has compiled the findings of that survey along with economic impact data drawn from Statistics Canada (and other sources) to deliver a comprehensive and compelling analysis and policy implications.

CSCNS - Social Media nonprofit segments


Nova Scotia’s over 6000 nonprofit organizations contribute $1.7 billion to the GDP annually and operate in hundreds of rural and urban communities and as a vibrant network connect with provincial and municipal governments, for-profit businesses and postsecondary institutions. The sector contributes to critical societal needs by providing inclusive social, cultural, health, recreational and economic programs and services. With more than 20,000 diverse full- and part-time employees the sector is supported by an estimated 74 million volunteer hours annually which has an economic value of another $1.5 billion.



In APEC’s confidential workforce survey, completed by 445 nonprofits, we learned that funding remains the most significant challenge for the vast majority nonprofits. However, attraction, retention and training of both staff and volunteers are also critical challenges. Hourly compensation for paid employees in Nova Scotia’s nonprofits averaged about $24 in 2018, which is 20% below the $30 per hour average for all industries in Nova Scotia. While facing competition for limited resources, there is a growing recognition by sector leaders of all ages that we will only thrive if we collectively shift to a mindset of abundance, cooperation and collaboration.

CSCNS - Social Media Obstacles to Growth
CSCNS - Social Media Young Workers graphic



While there is much to celebrate about the successes and opportunities for the nonprofit and voluntary sector, there is significant precariousness to employment in the sector. All employers, including business and government, are facing a declining unemployment rate, an aging population and competition for skilled labour. January 2020 data indicated that unemployment rates in Nova Scotia are at their lowest level since the early 1970s. COVID-19 is changing Nova Scotia’s economic situation, and this is being monitored very closely. The sector will be collaborating to address this and other critical labour issues.