OTF Research on Aging and the
Not-for-Profit Sector

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has identified population aging as a key issue facing the NFP sector in Ontario and is actively engaged in promoting understanding and discussion of the issues. In addition to this research project, we have sponsored two broad discussions about aging in collaboration with SIG@MaRS and the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat

The first event, led by SIG@MaRS, was a symposium in December 2010 that looked at some innovative approaches in the UK and Canada. OTF led a second symposium in April 2011 to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the not-for-profit (NFP) sector as a result of population aging. We also highlighted some early success stories and shared some of the insights from this work with participants. 

OTF started this research project in late 2010 to learn more about Ontario's aging population.  We began by doing some background research on the demographics and issues. We also benefited from the advice of an advisory group made up of external experts and OTF staff. Most recently, we hired consultants, Caryl Arundel and Associates, to help us better understand the related opportunities and challenges for the NFP sector.

What we have done:
  • A background report, Ontario's Aging Population: Challenges and Opportunities (pdf), that investigates current demographic information and outlines a number of issues related to the impact of population aging on the NFP sector, including vulnerable populations, service issues, volunteerism and human resources.
  • An analysis of the 8% of Ontario NFPs that serve the elderly (from the 2003 National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (NSNVO) survey). 
  • Preparation of two community snapshots in Peterborough and Hamilton. Input was received from stakeholders that participated in focus groups, interviews or a survey, as well as a review of documents.
  • Preparation of snapshots of two Toronto organizations that serve the older adult population. The snapshots of WoodGreen Community Services and Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office are based on interviews and a review of documents.
  • Survey of funders on their perceptions of the readiness of the NFP sector for the demographic changes. 
The following web pages share the highlights of our findings to date.

Note on language:
Throughout the discussion of our research findings, we employ a number of different terms referring to older Ontarians. When we use the term "seniors," we are specifically referring to those 65 years and older. "Older adults" is a more inclusive term that includes people who may be under the age of 65. The NSNVO survey uses the term "elderly" and we kept their use of the term when speaking of the results from this survey.

Download OTF's background report on aging in Ontario:
Ontario's Aging Population (pdf)
Demographic Change and Implications of an Aging Population for the Not-for-Profit Sector in Ontario (pdf)