Nonprofit Labour Force Strategies

Toward a labour force strategy for Canada's nonprofit sector

Conducted from January 2007 to June 2009, the Labour Force Study provided an evidence-based understanding of the nonprofit sector and its HR needs. In addition, the Study set the stage for a labour force strategy aimed at making sure the sector has access to the people and skills it needs. This project benefited from the wisdom and time brought to it by the steering committee that provided ongoing guidance as well as many other individuals who participated in dialogues and discussions along the way.

The first stage of the Study brought the sector’s labour force into focus. With insights from thought leaders, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organizations, the Study identifies trends and demands that shape the sector’s need for people, skills and factors that affect the sector’s ability to find the people it needs.

HRC Labour Force Study Report 1 Toward a Labour Force Strategy for Canada's Voluntary & Non-profit Sector
A framework for understanding the sector’s labour force
Summary report
Full report

Information on the second report of the study can be found in the Labour Market Information section. In the third stage, the steering committee developed recommendations to provide a starting point for addressing the sector’s labour force challenges.

Labour Force Study - Report #3 Toward a Labour Force Strategy for Canada's Voluntary & Non-profit Sector
Mission Driven

Mission Driven
This document sets the context for a new strategic direction for our sector’s approach to its labour force.


Labour force initiatives across the country

This section is meant to showcase the provincial and sub-sectoral collaborations that are already in motion across the country. We believe this information will assist in the continued development and implementation of labour force initiatives elsewhere at the same time as strengthening the success of initiatives that are already in place. The initiatives are updated on a regular basis by their respective collaborations; visiting the websites listed below will provide more current information.

British Columbia
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland & Labrador

British Columbia

Government Non Profit Initiative

The Government Non Profit Initiative (GNPI) was born out of the shared conviction that the government and the nonprofit sector —collectively and through individual departments and organizations—can be partners in improving the collective well being. The two sectors can achieve more by working together than either can achieve alone.

Since the inception of the GNPI in 2007, the broad priority areas for action have been to build capacity in the nonprofit sector (particularly in HR), improve the business and financial relationship and improve the climate for social innovation.

In the area of HR capacity building, the GNPI has worked to establish the Labour Market Partnership with the Vancouver Foundation and has supported the development of LMI tools and an HR Strategic Plan. The GNPI is focusing its efforts on improving cross-sectoral understanding of labour force issues and providing a policy monitoring function.

The GNPI delivered a new training package that brings government and community based social service provider representatives together to build a better understanding of government procurement processes and how to respond to government opportunities.

Labour Market Partnership

The Labour Market Partnership (LMP), with support from the province of BC and managed by Vancouver Foundation, is addressing HR issues in the nonprofit sector.

The Labour Market Partnership is focusing on the following four key areas:

  • HR strategic plan
  • LMI on BC’s nonprofit sector
  • Project funding
  • Sustainability plan (post the initial $5 million provided by the BC government through Labour Market Partnership funds)

An Employer’s Council has been established to guide the work of the LMP. This work also exists within the context of the GNPI.

Recent projects include (see reports online):

  • Indigenous HR summit
  • Feasibility of shared HR services in northern nonprofits
  • Feasibility of shared HR services in medium and large-sized urban organization

Case Study: B.C. Nonprofits Form Co-op to Confront New Funding Climate


Alberta Nonprofit Workforce Council

An initiative of the Alberta Nonprofit Workforce Council, WorkforceConnect addresses nonprofit sector workforce issues by engaging a broad range of stakeholders. The council are a diverse group working collaboratively to find long term solutions to sector workforce issues.

The Council coordinates a province-wide, cross-sectoral implementation of A Workforce Strategy for Alberta’s Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector.

WorkforceConnect highlights and supports the excellent work underway todevelop a high performance, sustainable workforce. Current resources available on the website include a video focused on the sector as a career choice and its impact.

It is led and facilitated by the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations at the invitation of the Alberta government. Both Edmonton and Calgary also have specific initiatives that are focused on their specific cities and regions.

Alberta has been a leader in the sector in terms of putting a structure in place and their work with the government. The challenge for Alberta is sustaining the work with one-time, project specific funding. Currently there are discussions with government as to their interest in labour market information and possible funding opportunities – building on the work and experience of other provinces.

Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) operates and supports multiple workforce development initiatives: the Calgary HR Initiative (CHRI), which focuses on practical supports for local nonprofit organizations and acts as the Secretariat for the Alberta Nonprofit Workforce Council.

The CHRI develops strategies, programs and collaborations that support effective HR management practices in order to build capacity within the Calgary nonprofit human services sector.

The CHRI is a collective undertaking of local nonprofit organizations, funders, human services networks and governments dedicated to developing short and long term sustainable solutions to address HR issues.

Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations

The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (ECVO) provides capacity support to nonprofit organizations in the Edmonton Area.

In addition, ECVO is a founding member of Alberta’s Nonprofit Workforce Council and is one of the provincial leads in supporting and promoting activity related to A Workforce Strategy for Alberta’s Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector in Edmonton Area and Northern Alberta.

The ECVO actively supports the improvement of HR knowledge and practice within nonprofits; it promotes and circulates tools, resources, facilitation opportunities, linkages and networking to assist organizations in addressing the workforce challenges they face.


Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations Inc.

The Manitoba Federation of Non-profit Organizations (MFNPO) is one of Manitoba’s 18 HR councils.

As the provincial sector council for Manitoba’s nonprofit sector, the MFNPO is committed to workforce development in Manitoba’s community-based nonprofit sector through a variety of workforce development initiatives including skills development, LMI, shared services, HR hubs and other collective learning events.

In addition, the MFNPO is engaged in sector-driven research that informs policy-making at the provincial level that has resulted in the multi-year funding pilot in Manitoba. Through various events and networking tools, the MFNPO strives to be a voice that informs the collective impact required for the nonprofit sector in Manitoba.

The MFNPO delivers three workforce development projects:

  • Skills development for nonprofit professionals
  • Shared services through an HR hub
  • LMI initiatives are distributed throughout the province in both rural and urban areas

In February/March 2012, the Federation held a Collective Impact Colloquium. The colloquium was intended as an opportunity to explore the future its participants want for the sector as a workforce, looking beyond past issues and short-term solutions. Challenges were addressed by innovative approaches and informed by demographic and labour market research to imagine multiple outcomes for nonprofit workforce development in Manitoba.


Saskatchewan has formed a group of nonprofit leaders from Regina and Saskatoon to look at the issue of labour force planning for the nonprofit sector.

On November 5-6 2012, the sector gathered for the Saskatchewan Network of Non-profit Organizations Summit. The event will bring together sector leadership from across the province to determine opportunities for the future of the nonprofit sector in Saskatchewan.

Workforce and HR planning have been connected to the summit planning, including the need to develop LMI about the nonprofit sector.

Case study: HR Plan for the Saskatchewan coalition of mobile crisis units


Ontario Nonprofit Network

The mandate of the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) is to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with nonprofits working for the public benefit in Ontario.

The ONN was created in order to:

  • Gather, analyze and interpret information about what is going on in the sector as a whole
  • Enhance communication across the sector
  • Work strategically with nonprofit organizations, government, business and other stakeholders
  • Respond to government at all levels about policy, legislation, and practices that affect how the sector operates
  • Develop a sense of shared interests and common purpose within the sector in order to strengthen the role of nonprofits in Ontario

Renewing our People Power

Based on a history of collaboration and information sharing with partners from across the nonprofit sector, the ONN has determined that there is sufficient consensus on the need for a Human Capital Renewal Strategy (HCRS) for Ontario’s nonprofit sector. They have therefore approached the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to explore possible collaboration on this project under the terms of an Ontario Labour Market Partnership (O-LMP) agreement and discussions are currently underway.

The ONN understands that the LMP program breaks down labour market issues into the following three categories:

  • HR planning
  • Local economic (employment) development
  • Labour force adjustment

The HCRS is a natural fit with HR planning and, at the same time, significantly crosses over and complements the other categories.

Case study: Reena fills HR gap with specialized curriculum


Comité sectoriel de main-d’oeuvre économie sociale et action communautaire (French only)

In both the community and social economy sectors in Quebec, there is increasing awareness about issues related to paid employment, including succession and succession planning. This is in large part due to the work of the Comité Sectoriel de Main-d’oeuvre Économie sociale et Action Communautaire (CSMO-ÉSAC), a nonprofit that has been in existence for 15 years with a mandate to address issues of paid employment in both community-based organizations and enterprises of the social economy.

The CSMO-ÉSAC engages in extensive work on labour force initiatives throughout the province and as such updates occur frequently. Please visit their website to see the most current information available.

The HR Council, in collaboration with CSMO-ESAC, has released on the HR Council’s website an English version of the following report which can be found in the HR Council’s Toolkit – Diversity at Work: Helping Experienced Workers Make the Leap: A Value-Added Proposition.

New Brunswick

The Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick Inc.

The Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick Inc. (the Centre) is our lead contact for the Building Cohesion Project. At this time labour force planning is broadly integrated into the work of the Centre – there is not a specific group in New Brunswick focused on this.

The Centre is also focusing a lot of its efforts on the creation of a new shared space for the nonprofit sector.

The Centre’s work includes HR management for volunteers along with front-line training for support workers and attendant care providers.

Nova Scotia

Federation of Community Organizations
Phoenix Youth Programs

In 2008, the Federation of Community Organizations (FOCO) and Phoenix Youth Programs partnered to undertake research on the nonprofit sector labour force in Nova Scotia.

With funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education the following report was developed and released: At the Same Table: Developing the non-profit sector in Nova Scotia. The report details focus group results of over 150 participants from across the province including more than 20 interviews with leading experts. The report provided information about the workforce and identified some key issues facing nonprofits in Nova Scotia.

The Government of Nova Scotia established the Voluntary Sector Professional Capacity (VSPC) Trust under the management of a Board of Trustees. The Trust provided $800,000 in funding to support a range of nonprofits that undertook various projects and initiatives focused on addressing the training and capacity needs of paid staff.

A New Nonprofit Sector Council

Over the last few years, nonprofits in Nova Scotia have talked about the need for a provincial organization to help strengthen the sector.

A consultation process led by Phoenix Youth Programs and FOCO last year confirmed that the will was there. This past spring, members of the nonprofit sector were further polled about an opportunity to begin to build that organization by focusing on labour force and HR issues in the nonprofit sector.

Thanks to input from groups and individuals across the province, a funding proposal is now before the Sector Council program at the Department of Labour and Advanced Education and there is optimism that this new entity will be up and running in early 2013. They are now looking to recruit members for the inaugural board of directors.

Case Study: Three projects funded by Nova Scotia's Voluntary Sector Professional Capacity Trust

Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homeless Network

Newfoundland and Labrador have taken a sub-sectoral approach to labour force planning in the nonprofit sector, most recently focused on the housing and homelessness services sector.

An Industrial Adjustment Services Working Group on Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supportive Housing and Homelessness Services Sector was established to:

  • Inform the development of a model for training and professional development tailored to the needs of the sector
  • Develop a communications/promotions strategy designed to raise the positive profile of the housing and homelessness sector by highlighting its value, professionalism and career opportunities

The Report of the Industrial Adjustment Services Working Group on Newfoundland & Labrador’s Supportive Housing and Homelessness Services Sector Phase II provides a summary of the activities and achievements of the Working Group and can be downloaded from the website under the Reports section of the site.

The work of this sub-sector is informing broader development and training opportunities for the nonprofit sector including the development of a training centre. The work is connected to the Voluntary and Non-Profit Secretariat of the government – the mandate is to enhance and support the contribution of the voluntary, nonprofit sector to the well being of all our communities.

Beginning in 2008, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network (NLHHN) completed a study of workforce recruitment, retention and training needs in Newfoundland’s housing and homelessness sector. This study led to a second phase activity during 2009 that developed communications tools to profile the sector to potential recruits and devised a sector training delivery model and curriculum.

The NLHHN also partnered with the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in 2008-2009 to host a regional forum in Newfoundland on the HR Council's workforce recommendations.

Case study: NL housing & homelesness network