How Funding Affects Workers

A recent report by the Canadian Policy Research Network, Passion and Commitment Under Stress: Human Resource Issues in Canada's Non-profit Sector, could be of interest to many literacy workers. Written by Ron Saunders, the report summarizes the experiences of the 900,000 paid workers in the non-profit sector who make up about 8 per cent of all employees in Canada. Workers in non-profit organizations are predominantly (74 per cent) female, older than the for-profit workforce and more likely to be highly educated.

In many respects, working conditions in the non-profit sector are above average: the percentage of employees with access to benefits, flexible work hours and training is higher than in the for-profit sector. However, there is more temporary work in the non-profit sector (which means reduced job security), there are more concerns about the adequacy of training and fewer opportunities for advancement. Managers and professionals are paid less, especially compared to the quasi-government sector (schools, hospitals, universities, colleges).

The temporary employment and lower pay reflect the difficult challenges facing many non-profit organizations: increased responsibilities with less funding and a shift in the nature of funding from long-term support for core services to a focus on short-term funding for specific projects.

Passion and Commitment Under Stress includes several recommendations. One is that funders consider a mix of long-term financial support and grants. Non-profit organizations, in turn, should articulate the roles they play and the funding mechanisms required to sustain those roles. They should also demonstrate the benefits of stable funding arrangements.

For more information, contact the Canadian Policy Research Network. To read the report online, go to



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