The Business of Doing Good

Study reveals Abbotsford’s not-for-profit organizations drive social benefits and economic growth

16 December 2021News & Announcements

There is a correlation between a city with a strong not-for-profit culture and a thriving community with a robust economy, according to a new study released by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).
The economic and social impact of 278 Abbotsford not-for-profit organizations is highlighted in The Business of Doing Good. This study was initiated by the ACOC and led by Dr. Garry Fehr, Associate Vice-President, Research, Engagement and Graduate Studies, UFV; with oversight by the Chamber’s Not-For-Profit Committee and the ACOC Board.
Abbotsford’s not-for-profit sector generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually and spends these funds on wages, goods, services, and capital expenditures to fulfill their organizational missions. These funds are then re-injected into the local economy, creating a “multiplier effect” of 1.7 times their initial economic impact. In other words, every dollar spent by the not-for-profit sector has an impact of $1.70.
Key statistics from the study include:

  • $497,278,295 — total revenue generated by the not-for-profit sector in 2019, with an eventual impact to Abbotsford’s economy of $845,373,951.
  • $333,744,655 — total expenditures by the not-for-profit sector in 2019 with an eventual impact of $567,365,913, of which 53.2 percent was dedicated to employee salaries and wages, and 39.7 percent on goods, services, and contractor fees.
  • 4,579 — the number of people employed in the not-for-profit sector in Abbotsford
  • 1 million+ — the estimated total hours volunteers devote to Abbotsford’s not-for-profit organizations, or approximately 40 hours per year per volunteer.

“As one of the most philanthropic cities in the country according to Statistics Canada, it is not surprising that Abbotsford’s not-for-profits are having a tremendous impact on our community,” says Katerina Anastasiadis, CEO of the ACOC, noting that the 170,000 Canadian not-for-profit organizations contribute 8.5 percent of the national GDP, or $189 billion. “This report has really confirmed the integral role our not-for-profit sector plays in the well-being of Abbotsford.”
The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce is a leader in BC among chambers of commerce in improving advocacy and services to the not-for-profit category of membership, having established a not-for-profit committee in 2017. This study has been the committee’s main focus, along with promoting partnerships between businesses and the not-for-profit sector.
“There is a huge opportunity for businesses to partner with the not-for-profit sector for positive mutual benefit. Giving back is good for business and good for the community,” notes Anastasiadis. “Partnering with a charity attracts and retains employees and customers. At the core, people want to feel good about how they spend their time and money.”
In addition to economic impact, the study examined the societal benefits of Abbotsford’s not-for-profit sector. The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were used as a guide to classify and understand the social benefits resulting from the activities of the organizations in this study.
“We are seeing a primary focus on health and education initiatives that better equip people to become more resilient, productive contributors to an equitable society,” says Fehr. “Societies that are more socially and economically equitable have been shown to have less crime and stronger community bonds.”
The Report also profiles social impact stories by four local organizations: Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF), 5 and 2 MinistriesFraser Valley Child Development Centre, and the Mennonite Central Committee BC.
In the wake of the recent flooding, the ACOC, along with two members of its Not-for-Profit Committee — UFV and ACF — jumped into action and established the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund. More than $2 million was raised in the first month in support of local relief efforts — a clear example of the sector’s tremendous community benefit.
“It was seamless to set up this emergency fund together,” says Anita Nielsen, Executive Director, Advancement & Alumni Relations at UFV, and Chair of the Study Committee. “The not-for-profit sector is so well established in our region and is playing a key role in its recovery and helping those affected build back quickly and with lasting strength.”
Read the The Business of Doing Good to learn more about the value of contributions made by the non-profit sector.

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