Discover our Impact

Explore Emerging Trends in the Community Impact Sector  

Impact (nonprofit and voluntary) organizations are powering social good and creating positive change, playing a critical role in ensuring people have support systems, opportunities to be connected to community, and can live healthy, fulfilling lives. The Community Impact Sector is an important contributor to employment and economic development, reducing our environmental footprint, fostering inclusion and social belonging, and addressing inequities. Researching and collecting data to illustrate the sector’s impact and advocate for greater sector support  is an important part of our work at IONS. 

Did you know?

Nova Scotia has the 4th largest nonprofit share in Canada, accounting for 4.5% of the province’s labour force and contributing 1.7 billion to the province’s GDP in direct and indirect impact, with an additional 1.5 billion in economic value through annual volunteer hours alone. 

In direct economic impact to Nova Scotia’s GDP, with an additional 7 million in indirect impact.

Registered nonprofits with over 20,000 staff in Nova Scotia. 20% of organizations have been active for over 50 years.

Among the provinces, Nova Scotia’s community impact sector is the third largest contributor in Canada.

The Community Impact Sector is a Major Employer. Period.

Over 20,000 people in Nova Scotia work in the sector.

We are Mission-Driven

People should come before profit. Instead of generating revenue for shareholders, surpluses are reinvested back into organizations for the betterment of our communities, clients, and staff. Some of the growing areas of work are social services, culture and recreation, health and wellbeing, and housing and development.

We are Entrepreneurial and Innovative

One-third of organizations in the Community Impact Sector operate a business or nonprofit social enterprise. Some sell goods, while others provide services like training, catering, consulting, digital design, recycling, or hospitality services.

We are Diverse 

Our sector employs significantly more people from Black, Acadian, and newcomer communities than other industries, and nearly 70% of leaders in the sector are women. Many impact organizations value inclusion, social justice, and equity and work in areas that promote equality.

We Give Back 

The sector provides a range of services, programs and supports for many communities. Some of these supports include culture and recreation programs, community gardens, shelters for the unhoused, and mental health initiatives.

We Contribute Economically

Together, small and medium-sized impact organizations in Nova Scotia contribute $1.7 billion of direct GDP every year (or about $1750 per Nova Scotian resident), which is comparable to the contributions of the accommodations and food sector and utility industries.

We Work Flexibly

The sector is a major employer in the province, often providing opportunities to work flexibly and remotely. The sector also offers cluster employment where you can be hired by 2-3 organizations allowing you to split your time between different types of work while having a full-time salary, benefits, and job stability.

Coming Soon! 

Earlier this year we launched the 2022 State of the Survey Sector for the Community Impact Sector, supported by the Association of Industry Sector Councils (AISC). The research findings and data will be visually summarized through a user-friendly, engaging dashboard. We are currently working with BakerTilley to develop an interactive map of the sector that will paint a picture of who is working where and what issues they are addressing. The sector map and dashboard will allow you to see key workforce trends across the province, assisting your organization in decision-making and collaboration.  

Want to know when we launch the sector map? 

Sector Research

IONS is the primary source of research about the Community Impact Sector in Nova Scotia. We collect data, conduct surveys, host community conversations, and gather feedback through our events to discover what’s top of mind for the organizations we support so we can tailor our programming and initiatives and advocate for change. The research helps us inform policymakers and sector leaders as we continue to raise awareness about the significant, positive social, economic, and environmental impacts of the sector. 

Use the search function below to discover what we’ve learned so far based on your topic of interest. 


Nonprofit Coalition

In response to COVID-19 in early 2020, a group of provincial organizations with nonprofit networks began collaborating to share information and resources to help the sector navigate the pandemic and stimulate ideas for new ways of working. Over time, the Nova Scotia Nonprofit Coalition has evolved, becoming more intentional in developing a collective voice to raise awareness about the sector and influence change. IONS, United Way, and the Community Foundation of NS support the backbone efforts of the Coalition’s work.  

There is a shared belief in the power of working together toward a collective vision of wellbeing and equity for all. The Coalition is currently focused on identifying opportunities for transformative systems change that will result in a more sustainable and impactful sector. 

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