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What is “Nonprofit” Sector in BC?


BC’s Nonprofit Sector (NPS) includes organizations that are:

  • non-governmental (i.e., institutionally separate from government);
  • non-profit distributing (i.e., do not return any profits generated to their owners or directors)
  • self-governing (i.e., are independent and able to regulate their own activities);
  • formally incorporated or registered under specific legislation with provincial, territorial, or federal governments.
  • voluntary (i.e., they benefit to some degree from voluntary contributions of time or money)

There are 26,000 non-profit organizations in BC:

  • delivering $6.1BN in programs, services and support
  • employing 66,000 full-time and 48,000 part-time employees
  • contributing 6.9% to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP)

Nonprofits can earn profits just like for-profit businesses, but they’re different because they don’t pay taxes and they invest profits back into their mission to enrich the community, society or world.

Social Enterprises in the Nonprofit Sector:

The Nonprofit Sector also includes the ‘Social Enterprise’. Social enterprises are nonprofit, cooperative, or other organizations that earn some, or all, of their revenues from the sale of goods and services; and invest the majority of their surpluses/profits into social, cultural or environmental goals.

  • There are over 700 social enterprises in BC.
  • In 2013, 121 of these BC enterprises reported generating $78 million in revenues, including $56.5 million in sales.
  • 66% of the people employed as part of BC social enterprises’ mission included people living with disabilities and other employment barriers.

BC social enterprises operate in the accommodation, food and tourism (44%), the arts, culture and communication (36%), resources, production and construction (26%), trade and finance sectors (25%), and health and social services (24%), amongst others.

Nonprofit organizations are located throughout British Columbia:

  • 51% of non-profit organizations are based in the Vancouver/South Coast region
  • 21% are based on Vancouver Island
  • 18% are based in the Southern Interior
  • 11% are located in the Northern Interior.

The Nonprofit Sector in BC includes these subsectors:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Development and Housing
  • Education and Research (including schools & post secondary institutions)
  • Employment and Training
  • Environment
  • Grantmaking, Fundraising and Voluntarism Promotion
  • Health
  • International
  • Law, Advocacy and Politics
  • Religion
  • Social Services
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Other Non-Profits

In BC, non-profits are most commonly classified in the subsectors of: religious organizations, arts and culture organizations, sports & recreation organizations, and social services organizations.

Sources:, StepUpBC: Labour Market Information, StepUpBC: Characteristics of the Labour Market in British Columbia’s Non-Profit Sector, 2014 British Columbia Social Enterprise Sector Survey Report, Canadian Social Enterprise Sector Survey Project

Issues Facing the Nonprofit Sector in BC

  • Reduced funding from government sources and the movement towards project funding rather than core funding, short-term and small projects rather than large scale initiatives. This increases competition for funding among non-profit sector players and requirements for administration and reporting.
  • Increased demand for staff with management skills or sector-specific education to administer programs and comply with reporting and financial accountability requirements. Increased requirements for accountability and the shift from core funding towards project funding have increased the demand for staff with strong program management and administration skills to comply with funder requirements, demonstrate results, prepare grant proposals, etc.
  • Recruiting and retaining the right type of volunteers
  • Increasing need to secure funding from alternative sources, increasing the importance of effective fundraisers and non-profit leaders with entrepreneurial and business skills. Declining levels of core funding increases the need to search for alternative revenue sources. Organizations that can build better communication, visibility and outreach to the private sector and general public are receiving the largest share of funding.

Employment & Occupations in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofits need people of every kind of skill, training, background and experience — sales, marketing, finance, IT, admin, healthcare, education, project management, communications and public relations, law and more. The nonprofit sector has three broad segments of occupations:

  • Managerial occupations: managers in health, education, social and community services and membership organizations, managers in social, community services, libraries, archives, museums and art galleries, managers in health care and managers in broadcasting and performing arts and other services
  • Functional and professional occupations: those necessary to carry out programming delivered by non-profit sector organizations, for example:
    • religious organization sub-sector: ministers of religion and other religious occupations such as brothers, nuns, monks, religious education
    • social service sub-sector: social workers, family, marriage and other related counsellors, psychologists, community and social service workers, instructors and teachers of persons with disabilities
    • sports and recreation: program leaders, coaches, directors of sporting federations, sports officials and referees
    • health sub-sector: occupations in health diagnosis and treatment e.g. speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists
    • arts & culture sub-sector: musicians, singers, dancers, choreographers, painters, photographers
  • Support occupations: those not directly related to delivery of the non-profit sector programming and services, but provide necessary support activities, for example:
    • receptionists and switchboard operators, customer service personnel, administrative and data entry clerks, etc.

For a complete list of nonprofit sector occupations, see:

Description of Occupations Common in the Non-Profit Sector,
published in: ‘Characteristics of the Labour Market in British Columbia’s Non-Profit Sector’, Appendix II, Table II.1, page A-2

Why work in the nonprofit sector in BC?

Nonprofits attract employees through:

  • the importance of the work that the sector performs (the cause for which the non-profits work is their most important competitive advantage to attract qualified staff)
  • positive work environments
  • inclusive work and collaborative cultures
  • opportunity to interact with clients and the general public
  • flexible work arrangements such as the opportunity to work part-time/seasonally or job share

However these benefits may be offset by comparatively low levels of wages and benefits.

Education Programs for Nonprofit Sector Workers

BCIT Nonprofit Management Program

  • Courses focus on leadership and financial management skills, managing volunteers, marketing, government relations, fundraising, legal requirements and governance

BCIT Fundraising Management Program

  • Courses focus on fundraising, grant & proposal writing, marketing and event planning, government relations and social responsibility

Charity Village Active Learning (web based courses)

  • Courses include budgeting for nonprofits, event planning, fundraising, proposal writing, building a volunteer program

StepUP BC: Learning Resources & Learning Modules

  • Large collection of online and face to face courses, certificate and diploma programs for nonprofits and fund raising organizations

SFU Nonprofit Management Certificate (part time / online courses)

Vantage Point (face to face workshops)

Vantage Point: Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Employment outlook:

Employment in the sector is expected to grow moderately and steadily over the next five to ten years as the need for the services of the non-profits continues to increase, the organizations further develop alternative and innovative sources of funding, and the existing workforce ages.

The positions that are expected to be most difficult to fill are:

  • senior staff and managerial positions that require complex skill sets (as many senior staff will be retiring soon)
  • fundraising, marketing, and sales positions that incorporate entrepreneurial skills and the ability to build the public profile of the organization through outreach and effective use of social media (in order to find alternative source of funding to overcome funding shortages)
  • sub-sector specific, high skilled and credentialed, licensed and recognized positions (e.g. early childhood educators in the education sub-sector, social workers and psychologists in the social service subsector, pastors in the religious sub-sector, musicians and artists in arts and culture sub-sector, etc.)

Sources: StepUpBC, Characteristics of the Labour Market in British Columbia’s Non-Profit Sector, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector in British Columbia: Regional Highlights from the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations [2006]

Helpful Books

The Vancouver Public Library has a number of books on working in nonprofit organizations. The titles below are some examples:

Career Exploration and Job Search

  • The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit Strategies for Impact Without Burnout – Kanter, Beth, 2017.
    Central Library, Level 4, 658.1148 K16h
  • The Nonprofit Career Guide: How to Land A Job That Makes A Difference, 2008.
    Central Library, Level 4, 361.763023 C95n
  • Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference, 2015.
    Central Library, Level 4, 331.702 P973c
  • Careers in Nonprofit and Government Agencies, 2008.
    Central Library, Level 4, 361.763023 C27w
  • Winning Strategies to Get your Next Job in the Nonprofit World, 2004.
    Central Library, Level 4, 650.142 S63s
  • Making a Living While Making a Difference: Conscious Careers for an Era of Interdependence, 2007.
    Central Library, Level 4, 650.1 E93m2
  • Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-impact Nonprofits, 2012.
    Central Library, Level 4, 658.1148 C95f1

Resumes and Cover Letters

  • Real-resumes for Jobs in Nonprofit Organizations, 2004.
    Central Library, Level 4, 650.142 R28n

Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is a good way to meet people who might help you get a job in the future. It shows potential employers that you have the initiative to learn new things.

Volunteering can help you:

  • get experience that relates to the job you want
  • make sure this is the right career choice for you
  • make useful connections in the non-profit sector
  • hear about new jobs ahead of the crowd
  • add new skills and experience to your resume

Search the sites below to find local volunteer opportunities:

Volunteer in Health Care Facilities

The following organizations accept volunteers in hospitals, residential care facilities, adult day centres, and other community settings.

Volunteer in Public Institutions: Schools, Recreation Centres, Cities or Libraries

Many public institutions accept volunteers; consider volunteering for your local municipality, your local recreation centre or your local school district.

  • Municipalities: complete list of BC cities and towns;
    go to your local city/town website and search for ‘volunteer’
  • Public Recreation Centres and Parks
    go to your local city/town website and search for ‘parks’ or ‘recreation’ or ‘community centre’; when you locate your local recreation centre, search for ‘volunteer’
  • School Districts/Boards complete list of school districts;
    go to your local school district website and search for ‘volunteer’
  • Public Libraries: complete list of public library websites;
    many public libraries accept volunteers; check your local library’s website for further details, look for ’Friends of the Library’ or ’Volunteers ’.
  • Library Champions** community outreach project;
    immigrant volunteers draw on their language skills, cultural knowledge and understanding of the immigrant experience; they connect with newcomers in the community, share their passion for public libraries and raise awareness of the wealth of resources that libraries offer.
    **Volunteers must be permanent residents of Canada

Volunteer in Community Organizations

Many public community organizations need volunteers – contact your local community organization to see if they are accepting volunteers. You can start by looking for organizations in:

  • “the Red Book”
    covers all types of community organizations in Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast

Volunteer in Charities

Volunteer with Immigrant Service Providers

  • New to BC: Library link for Newcomers
    Pick your community [click ‘Select’] and the type of organization [or ‘Select all’].
    Covers : Employment Services, English Language Services, Settlement Services, Early Childhood Development, Seniors’ Services, Youth Services, Refugee Services


It is not legal for “for-profit” businesses to offer volunteer positions. You must be paid at least minimum wage ($10.25/hr) for any work done at for-profit businesses.

Employment Standards Act of BC.

For more ideas on how to get work experience see:


Networking is still one of the best ways to find employment, regardless of age. If you have been in Canada for a few years, you may already have a network of family and friends who can help you with your job search.

Another option is to grow your network by joining a professional association or using social media to connect with like-minded professionals.

For more information see:

  • MeetUp
    Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Many of these groups are based on professional networks. You can search the Vancouver site for groups with similar career interests.
  • Find a Job Through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and More to Advance your Career / Diane Crompton and Ellen Sautter,  2011.
    Available at Central Library, Level 4, 650.13 S26s1
  • Knock ‘em Dead Social Networking for Job Search and Professional Success,  2014.
    Available at Central Library, Level 4, 650.13 Y31k

Job Boards for the Nonprofit Sector

    [non-profit organization that supports immigrant and refugee communities]
  • Work in
    [can search by region, job type, e.g. permanent, contract, intern, organizational sector, e.g. education, environment, religion]

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the nonprofit sector in British Columbia. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

Additional Resources

Still looking for more information? Try looking at the following resources:

  • Imagine Canada
    provides programs and resources that strengthen Canadian charities and their operations