Imagine Canada Research

Imagine Canada’s Research Department has focused on a number of projects in addition to stand alone reports. Outlined below are our current, ongoing projects as well as key completed projects.

Current Research 

Earned Income Report

The Earned Income-Generating Activities Among Canadian Charities report is Imagine Canada’s first report focused on earned income based on a summary of findings from our Sector Monitor program. 

Sector Monitor

The Sector Monitor survey program was launched at the end of 2009 to regularly monitor the state of charities across the country and their ability to deliver their missions.

The goal of the Sector Monitor program is to provide relevant and timely information about the issues facing charities and nonprofits to the sector itself and to various sector stakeholders, including Imagine Canada members, policymakers, business leaders, the media and the Canadian public.

Research Bulletins

Research Bulletins distill research about the charitable and nonprofit sector into an easily-understood news brief. Our latest Research Bulletin, Trends in Individual Donations (1984 to 2010), presents an overview of trends in charitable donations from 1984 to 2010, drawing on a number of data sources derived from Canadian personal income tax returns.

See all Research Bulletins

Completed Projects

Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating (CSGVP / NSGVP)

The Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) provides the most comprehensive overview of the contributions of time and money Canadians make to nonprofit and charitable organizations and to each other. Conducted in 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2007, the CSGVP surveyed a random sample of Canadians about how they:

  • gave money and other resources to charitable and nonprofit organizations;
  • volunteered time for charitable and voluntary organizations and for individuals directly; and,
  • participated in organizations by becoming members.

See all CSGVP Highlights reports

National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations

The National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) was a four-year research project that built our understanding of the charitable and nonprofit sector in Canada and its needs for capacity building. Research for the NSNVO was conducted by a consortium of organizations with Imagine Canada serving as the project lead. 

Synthesizing the Results of the NSNVO and NSGVP

Imagine Canada released reports on three major sub-sectors within the nonprofit sector: Sports and Recreation, Social Services, and Religion - all based on an analysis of data from both the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) and the National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP). These reports explore the financial and human resources of these organizations, and the challenges they face as they attempt to fulfill their missions. Funding for this project was provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community (CSBCC)

Canadian businesses are a growing source of support to the charitable and non-profit sector. Businesses not only have a large number of resources to offer to the community, they also have a lot of influence over the various stakeholders in the business, such as employees and suppliers. But who are businesses giving to, how are they giving it and, perhaps most importantly, why are they giving?

Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community (CSBCC) research initiative was launched in 2007, with generous support of the EnCana Corporation, to look into these and other questions about corporate community investment. The results from this initiative provide a board picture of the nature and scope of corporate community investment practices in Canada.

See all reports and supporting materials from the CSBCC

Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project

The Canadian findings from the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project have been released in Imagine Canada's newest report titled The Canadian Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector in Comparative Perspective.

The Comparative Nonprofit (CNP) Sector Project was undertaken by Imagine Canada in consultation with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies. For further information about the JHU Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (CNP), visit their website.

A Study of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Small- and Medium-Sized Community Organizations in Canada

Funded by Human Resources and Social Development Canada, this study compared the structure, development and supports for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small- and medium-sized community organizations (SMOs) in Canada and also supports available to SMEs and SMOs in other countries. Drawing on learnings from Canadian and international experience, the study made recommendations on how public supports for SMOs in Canada could be improved.

Voluntary Sector Evaluation Research Project (2000 - 2005)

The Voluntary Sector Evaluation Research Project (VSERP) was a five-year project designed to help improve the capacity of voluntary organizations to evaluate their work, assess their performance, and communicate their effectiveness to their stakeholders and the public. A joint project of the former Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and the Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development at Carleton University, VSERP brought together voluntary organizations and university-based researchers to develop solutions to the evaluation challenges faced by nonprofit and voluntary organizations and to transfer this knowledge to the voluntary sector and its funders.

The project combined consultations in communities across Canada with a national survey that was completed by almost 2000 organizations and more than 300 funders. The survey explored the current evaluation activities of nonprofit and voluntary organizations, their perceived strengths and perceived needs for assistance with evaluation, and their ability to provide performance-related information. It also examined funders’ evaluation expectations and their views about the strengths and needs of voluntary organizations with respect to evaluation. Finally, it explored potential improvements to the evaluation process, from the perspective of both voluntary organizations and funders. The results of the survey are reported in Assessing performance : evaluation practices & perspectives in Canada's voluntary sector. A fact sheet, titled Evaluation Practices in Canadian Voluntary Organizations, also sheds light on the capacity of charitable and nonprofit organizations to evaluate their work, and how the expectations of funders have changed.

Knowledge Development Centre

Between 2002 and 2007, the Knowledge Development Centre at Imagine Canada funded 61 community-based and national research projects about volunteers and volunteering and published over 100 information resources based on these projects. 

The Knowledge Development Centre was funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Volunteerism Initiative (CVI). The CVI was delivered through three national centres and 13 local networks, one in each province and territory.

See all KDC resources

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