Alberta Nonprofit Survey

About the Survey

CCVO’s Alberta Nonprofit Survey takes an annual snapshot of the health and experience of Alberta’s nonprofits and charities and captures information on finances, demand for services, staffing, and the future economic outlook of organizations. These surveys help illustrate the changes and trends occurring across Alberta’s nonprofit sector, and results are used by the nonprofit sector, government, funders and researchers for education, advocacy and to inform decisions. This survey has a provincial reach and spans various subsectors.

Each year CCVO tries to explore timely and topical issues affecting the sector. In 2014 we examined the implementation of Alberta’s Social Policy Framework, the continued effects of the elimination of two provincial programs, the impact of the June 2013 floods and emergency preparedness in the sector.

The report is based on the analysis of 652 responses collected from nonprofit organizations across Alberta between January 30th and February 21st 2014. The sample for the survey is not representative; however, our sample has remained relatively constant year to year.

CCVO has also customized the report results for two key constituents: Calgary and Area nonprofits and Alberta’s Social Service organizations. Click on the documents below to read (PDF).

Section 1: Highlights

Section One: Highlights

A New Normal

Overall, the 2014 Alberta Nonprofit Survey reveals certain continuity, stability and some renewed optimism within Alberta’s nonprofit sector. Last year, the survey was in the field when the provincial budget was tabled, which included cuts that had broad implications for the sector. This year, the proportion of organizations that expect their finances to worsen has dropped from 25% to 12%, a return to 2012 levels.

There were no dramatic changes in response to most key indicators, and the sector appears to be settling into a “new normal” after a number of volatile recessionary and post-recession years.
While a persistent gap exists between the proportion of organizations who, on the one hand report increased demand and operating costs, and on the other a corresponding increase in revenue, this gap has closed somewhat since 2010.

In recent years, Alberta nonprofits have experienced increased success in generating earned income, which they rely upon for approximately one-half of their revenue.

Social Policy Framework

Alberta’s social agencies are familiar with the government’s new Social Policy Framework, have communicated it to staff and those in governance roles, and to varying degrees have factored it into planning, program design and delivery. There appears to be room for broader engagement with organizations that support quality of life through means other than social programs (e.g. Arts and Culture, Sports and Recreation).

Flexible Funding

The importance of flexible/unrestricted funding was highlighted in the responses of organizations who had utilized the Community Spirit Program, in addition to those that incurred flood-related costs. Organizations noted that the elimination of the Community Spirit Program has contributed to the erosion of flexible funding and stressed that securing funding of this sort is exceptionally difficult. Without flexible funding to address emergent needs, organizations are left dipping into operating reserves. Our research suggests that flood-affected organizations have tapped into their operating reserves to cover flood-related costs.

The Benefits of Scale

This year’s survey once again demonstrates that larger organizations are more likely to see revenues increase, expand programs and services, hire staff and increase salaries. A closer look at organizations in a more fragile state raises questions about how to learn from their experiences and how we, as a sector, can support recovery or, where appropriate, mergers, acquisitions or closures.

Subsectors to Watch

Despite provincial and municipal efforts to eliminate homelessness, Housing organizations are struggling to meet demand. Ninety-one percent reported increased demand over last year and 83% reported they are unable to fully meet demand.

Environmental organizations appear to be experiencing increased difficulties garnering financial support. Although a relatively small sample, 50% reported that corporate donations have decreased in the past year. It will be important to monitor the health and experiences of organizations in these subsectors in the coming years.

In the Wake of the Floods

There is no question that the response to last year’s floods underscored the resilience of Alberta communities, and that individuals and organizations were generous with both time and money. Through the recovery, there was growing concern that it was harder to raise funds for other essential and important community initiatives; that funding was being diverted from “regular” causes to flood relief and recovery. Comparing funding trends to previous years and between organizations that were impacted by the floods and those that were not, it becomes apparent that these concerns were justified. Organizations in flood affected areas that did not incur additional expenses had less success securing donations and grants.

While many organizations reported that they have returned to business as usual and have no outstanding needs, it is too soon to assess the longer term impact on the financial health and stability of flood-affected organizations.

Emergency Preparedness

The scope of the 2013 flooding prompted us to pursue questions about emergency preparedness within Alberta’s nonprofit sector. The 2014 survey established benchmarks that can be used in the coming years to measure the impact of capacity building in this area. For example, only half of respondents reported they have a clear communications plan to contact and speak with staff, volunteers, and clients in an emergency situation.

Next Section: Operations

Profile of Respondents

By Subsector:

By Region:

By Operating Budget:

By Staff

  • Arts and Culture 12%
  • Business, Prof. Ass’ns & Unions 1%%
  • Development 6%
  • Education & Research 8%
  • Environment 4%
  • Fundraising & Volunteering 5%
  • Health 8%
  • Housing 4%
  • International 2%
  • Law. Advocacy & Politics 2%
  • Religion 1%
  • Social Services 29%
  • Sports & Recreation 18%
  • Calgary & Area 48%
  • Edmonton & Area 35%
  • Camrose – Drumheller 19%
  • Lethbridge – Medicine Hat 13%
  • Wood Buffalo – Cold Lake 11%
  • Red Deer 7%
  • Athabasca – Grande Prairie 7%
  • Banff – Jasper – Rocky Mountain House 4%
  • $100K or less 24%
  • $100K – $250K 16%
  • $250K – $500K 15%
  • $500K – $1.5M 16%
  • $1.5M – $10M 7%
  • Over $10M 7%
  • 0 staff 17%
  • 1-9 45%
  • 10-24 14%
  • 25-49 8%
  • 50-99 5%
  • 100-199 6%
  • 200 + 5%

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