The non-profit sector is an essential feature of life in Canada, from hospitals and schools to arts, culture, recreation, advocacy, and more.
Public funding has enabled a thriving non-profit sector to emerge in Canada. But information on grants and contributions to the non-profit sector is rare and only a fraction of this data is available online. The information is also not well organized, can be confusing or difficult to find. This makes it almost inaccessible to the public. For this reason, a team of five researchers from across Canada decided to create the State Funding for Social Movements database. State Funding for Social Movements is a research project that documents the history and significance of state funding in helping support Canada's vital non-profit sector.
The team used Public Accounts data from Public Services and Procurement Canada to assist them with their research. They experimented with software tools to digitize, clean, and analyze the data. This data, combined with historical research, allowed them to create a public database. The database lists grants to non-government organizations (NGOs) in Canada since the 1960s.
The researchers used this data to document the history as well as recent developments around state funding for the non-profit sector in Canada. It demonstrates how the relationship between state funding and non-profit organizations differs across movements, regions, and time periods.
As of 2020, the team’s research has resulted in numerous deliverables. These include articles in academic journals; international conference sessions; reports on funding trends; magazine articles; an online archive; and a database.
The impact of this project is transparency in public finances and state policy. Policymakers and community organizations can benefit from an accessible and easy to navigate grant database. Academics, teachers, and students can also use this resource to learn about and conduct research on Canada’s non-profit sector.