The research initiative, Niagara Voluntary Sector Labour Force Study, was conducted by the Centre for Community Leadership at Niagara College and was funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. In an effort to contribute to the dialogue on Funding Matters in Halton and the corresponding situation of the nonprofit sector, this issue of Community Dispatch shares with you this study's findings and important recommendations. I have no doubt that the issues raised will resonate with the experience of Halton nonprofit agencies.
The Voluntary Sector is an important component of any community, contributing to our prosperity, quality of life and humanity. It accounts for an estimated 10% of the Gross National Product (GNP) and accounts for $90 Billion in revenue and $109 Billion in assets. Approximately 9% (1.3 Million) of the Canadian workforce works for a charitable organization. The sector includes staff as well as volunteers from social service, health, recreation, culture, education, agriculture, tourism etc. This study provides a snapshot of the key issues affecting Niagaraï¿½s 2,000+ organizations and provides recommendations that are critical to the sectorï¿½s survival and sustainability particularly as it pertains to employment and training needs.
The purpose of this study was to develop a full profile of the Niagara voluntary sector workforce; identify issues, challenges and priorities faced by the sector; identify labour market and required skill sets. Both macro and local trends influence the Niagara nonprofit sector.
Many of the demands being placed on the voluntary sector labour force are the result of a number of factors:
In 2003, it was estimated that each organization would serve approximately 7,500 stakeholders. This amounts to a strong 36% increase of Niagara residents turning to nonprofits for assistance. This increase is attributed to serving more low-income families, a growing need for more in-home care, a growing awareness of the availability of programs or services (abuse, counselling, addictions and health) and assisting more young unemployed people. On the plus side, some increases should be viewed as positive, that is, more interest in sports, arts, the environment and recreation.
What is the most frightening is that as demands are increasing, the capacity of Niagara organizations to meet demands has been declining. In 2001, 22% of organizations were able to meet stakeholder demands, 20% in 2002 and 17% in 2003. The reasons cited for this include lack of funding, lack of volunteers, understaffing, lack of facilities and transportation challenges.
As core government funding, foundation and corporate donations decrease, the sector's vulnerability is increasing. Despite extensive fundraising, efforts are falling short of raising the required dollars.
While a strategic plan, liability insurance, succession planning and pay equity should be fundamental to every organization, it is clear that this is not the case. This lack of fundamental elements is likely indicative of reduced funding. This, in turn, is contributing to an unhealthy work environment and a tendency to mission drift.
The reality of the sector is that many organizations are unable to offer competitive wages and benefits, and burnout and a lack of professional development opportunities are issues. It is difficult to find qualified staff and there is a lack of skilled applicants and a shortage of appropriately educated college and university graduates. Women account for a clear majority of staff (76%) and the majority of those in senior positions are female (77%). In addition:
Also, the study indicated shortages in the following occupations:
Mapping out the issues facing the volunteer sector, the study also examined the skills and training that are required to address them.
If these issues are not addressed immediately, it is anticipated that by 2009:
For more information on above study contact:
Centre for Community Leadership
300 Woodlawn Road
Welland, ON L3C 7L3
Produced by Community Development Halton
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org