Skills and Leadership Development in Canada's Nonprofit Sector

Overview

According to our 2008 Labour Force Study, budgets for staff training and development are nearly universal among the sector’s largest employers (those with 100 or more employees), but are less prevalent in the mid-sized (those with 10 to 99 employees) and small organizations that make up the vast majority of the sector.

This 30-month initiative supported the development of skills and leadership in the nonprofit sector and was comprised of three specific projects:

Understanding the state of skills development
Asking the question: Is there a leadership deficit?
Developing an occupational standard for Managers of Volunteer Resources

Understanding the state of skills development

The HR Council’s Labour Force Study drew attention to the availability of learning and development opportunities as a key factor in successful recruitment and retention. While nonprofit employees responded that they are satisfied with their jobs overall, they reported lower satisfaction with opportunities for professional development and career advancement than with other aspects of their jobs.(1)

In response, the HR Council convened with stakeholders to identify skills development goals in addition to recommending further action for achieving these goals. To support stakeholders in this process the HR Council analyzed skills development strategies used by other sectors in Canada and internationally.

Current State Report Current State of Skills Development: The Canadian Nonprofit Sector

A sector-wide leadership and skills development strategy is critical if the sector is to continue to grow and play a vital role not only as major sources of employment but also as agencies responsible for a growing role in the delivery of services.
This Current State Report is designed to develop a strategic skills development plan for the nonprofit sector in Canada.

Skills Development: Using Evidence-Based Information to Inform Practice

The goals and actions outlined in this report are intended to assist nonprofit organizations – in particular HR managers, Executive Directors and other leaders involved in skills development – to identify and act on ways to strengthen skills development at a cost that is manageable for organizations.

 




Asking the question: Is there a leadership deficit?

There are concerns about where future nonprofit leaders will come from to fill vacancies as baby boomers exit the labour force. In a similar vein, key informants from the HR Council’s Labour Force Study(2) also identified the impending leadership deficit as an issue and raised questions about how the sector will handle leadership succession. There is much speculation about who will take on these key leadership positions and about the challenges boards will face recruiting people with the right skills.

Our response:

  • Providing stakeholders with research-based information about recruitment for top positions
  • Stepping up outreach to members of nonprofit boards to support their critical role in recruiting top executives
  • Clarifying stakeholder concerns and perspectives in addition to promoting stakeholder dialogue on prospects for future leadership in the sector

Findings from the proposed research and stakeholder inquiry provided evidence-based information about the competencies of newly-hired leaders and the competencies boards recruit for. In doing so, the project identified challenges organizations face in hiring for top paid positions, informed the development of strategies and highlighted specific resources and tools to meet these challenges. Given the changing demographics in Canada’s labour force, this research will pay particular attention to inclusion and diversity in hiring for top positions.

Driving Change Survey—Headline Findings

Selected findings from A National Study of Canadian Nonprofit Executive Leaders

Driving Change: A National Study of Canadian Nonprofit Executive Leaders

The HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector is asking an important question: Is there a leadership deficit?

Driving Change: A National Study of Canadian Nonprofit Executive Leaders: Supplemental Analysis Report

This report presented nine key findings of the Driving Change research, highlighting the perspectives of nonprofit Executive Directors in Canada, along with the views of board members. Of the nine key findings, two areas – Executive Director retention and Board support – leant themselves to further analysis. This report details the outcomes of this additional analysis.

 




Developing an occupational standard for Managers of Volunteer Resources

As we built upon the overall portrait of skills development in the sector, research and stakeholder input pointed to the need for concrete action to support professional development for one particular key occupation in the sector: Managers of Volunteer Resources. The coordination and administration of volunteers is an important area of nonprofit work; in 2007 alone over 12.5 million Canadians volunteered with various nonprofit organizations.(3)

The HR Council has partnered with the Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources (CAVR), the national umbrella organization for practitioners, to develop and validate an occupational standard for Managers of Volunteer Resources and to develop related communications materials. This occupational standard will benefit employers in recruiting and retaining their Managers of Volunteer Resources as well as help incumbents with career planning and management.

What is an occupational standard and why should I care?

Occupational standards identify and group tasks associated with a particular occupation and describe the knowledge and skills that a worker must demonstrate to be considered competent in that occupation. Occupational standards describe the skills and knowledge needed to perform competently in the workplace.

NOS National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources

This report focuses on developing and validating a National Occupational Standard (NOS) for the Manager of Volunteer Resources occupation. The NOS provides the foundation for further development of key human resource and career planning tools.*

*There are limited hard copies of the National Occupational Standards and related materials available. To inquire about obtaining one, please contact the Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources (CAVR).

National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources: How-to Guide

To maximize the value of the Occupational Standards, guidance must be provided to end-users by demonstrating practical uses for the standards in their organization in the products of the How-to Guide. With this document, the Occupational Standards become an integral part of the Human Resources processes within the sector.

National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources: Task Chart

This chart quickly references nine major categories of tasks that are meant to help support the work of Managers of Volunteer Resources. For more details, please see the National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources document.

 


 

For more information about this project please contact info@hrcouncil.ca


1. Report #2: Findings from Canada-wide Surveys of Employers and Employees. HR Council for the Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector, 2008.
2. Report #1: A Framework for Understanding the Sector’s Labour Force. HR Council for the Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector, 2007.
3. Canadian Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 2007.