By Haley Flaro & Sarah Wagner
Non-profit organizations are businesses and a critical and often misunderstood third pillar in the New Brunswick economy, positioned, what should be solidly, next to government and the private sector. The non-profit sector is often the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, especially during difficult economic times. Many businesses support our sector – through donations, in-kind services and the gift of time and we could not do this work without you. Yet, if the bottom ever falls out of the non-profit sector, the costs to individuals, communities and government will be astronomical in terms of health, economic and social costs.
Ability NB and the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL) recently worked with Tacit Elements to study the Economic Contribution of the Community Sector in New Brunswick (May 2021) with a focus on 2019 data. The community sector in NB is truly an economic driver.
There are 4,418 non-profit and 2,592 registered charities (collectively known as the Community Sector) in NB with activities in Household, Business, and Government associated services and they are responsible for:
- 55,000 employment positions (15% of NB labour force)
- $979 million in annual economic value of volunteering
- $3.7 billion in annual GDP contributions.
The sector is a significant employer. Business non-profit organizations employed 3,000 people, Government non-profit organizations employed 39,000 people, and non-profit organizations serving households employed 13,000 New Brunswickers.
Far more women are employed within the Community Sector than are men, yet women earn a lower average hourly wage. There were 4437 men employed in the sector compared to 11, 601 women. Men earned $22.62 per hour and women $17.27 per hour.
Volunteers are truly the cornerstone of non-profit organization efforts. The economic value of volunteering is highest in the 1) culture & recreation 2) education & research and 3) social services sectors. This demonstrates where New Brunswickers want to invest their time and warrants a close look by government when it comes to community investment.
The sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annual contributions are impressive. Non-profit organizations (excluding government and business non-profits) contributed $425,000,000 in 2019. The most GDP contributions by sector were:
- Culture & recreation $135,000,000
- Social services $118,000,000
What can Chamber members do? Tell the non-profit story.
Many citizens, such as persons living in poverty and persons with a disability, are significantly affected by the current fiscal situation in New Brunswick. Additional pressures are being placed on government to address the needs of this population at a much higher cost than is possible through non-profit sector organizations. Programs or services need to be delivered to target populations and communities, and a partnership with non-profit organizations makes it happen.
Non-profits help grow the economy. Not only are we significant employers, we are a key partner in creating opportunities for employment as many of the populations we serve remain significantly underrepresented in the New Brunswick workforce and are an untapped resource. Many non-profit organizations have the skills and experience to assist citizens who face barriers in obtaining: the skills they need to succeed, necessary education and training, and meaningful long-term employment.
It is past time to change the conversation about the non-profit sector in NB and we need the help of Chamber members to change that conversation. Each organization is an employer, an investor, a beneficiary of economically-valuable volunteering activity, a coordinator of financial transactions, a distributor of products and services, and more. There is value in the services just as there is value in the acts of providing these services—and this is something that has long been overlooked.
Haley Flaro & Sarah Wagner
Haley Flaro is the Executive Director of Ability New Brunswick and Sarah Wagner is the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living. They have collectively worked in the non-profit sector in New Brunswick for over 34 years.