Help us build the Common Good Retirement Plan

Canada’s nonprofit workers have been on the frontlines of some of the most crucial issues facing our country today, but when it comes to the retirement income crisis, much has yet to be done to support many of the sector’s dedicated employees and freelancers.

Thanks to the Common Good initiative, the nonprofit and charitable sector has an exciting opportunity to help its workers overcome one of their biggest financial challenges and secure the retirement they deserve.  

Approximately 850,000 nonprofit and charitable workers lack a workplace retirement plan, and many others are in lower-quality, high-fee plans.  

About 1.7 million nonprofit and charity workers in Canada¹ ¹Excluding hospitals, universities & colleges, business & professional associations and unions. StatsCan National Survey of Nonprofit & Voluntary Organizations (2003)
Almost half work for nonprofits that do not offer a workplace retirement plan² ²HR Council For the Voluntary & Non-Profit Sector Report “Toward a Labour Force Strategy for Canada’s Voluntary & Non-profit Sector” (2008)

Many employers in the sector find it challenging to provide a high-quality retirement plan.  That’s why a coalition of prominent philanthropic foundations, nonprofit sector leaders, and retirement security experts has launched the Common Good initiative.

We now need your support to build a collective retirement income plan based on the principles of some of the world’s best pension plans.

Common Good Principles


Would be overseen by an independent, skills-based board with a legal duty to put plan members’ – not shareholders’ – interests first


Would be open to all sector workers, whether full-time, contract, part-time or freelance


Would allow members to continue saving in the plan, even if they change jobs or employment status, or relocate


Would offer lower fees and professionally-curated investments structured to deliver the most retirement income for every dollar you or your employer contributes


Employees' contributions would be flexible, and employer contributions optional


As a community-based plan, spouses and common-law partners would also be eligible to participate

Commit to the Common Good

In order to launch this retirement plan, we need a critical mass of nonprofit employers, employees, and freelancers to commit to joining the plan.

We are seeking confirmed support from at least 50 organizations by the end of November and are proud to introduce the following employers who have made a commitment to offer Common Good to their employees, should it proceed.

Even if your organization already offers retirement benefits, we want to hear from you.

Our goal is to make the Common Good Retirement Plan a reality within the next year.

Our Committed Employers

  • "As a small regional land trust with limited resources, we have been looking for ways to provide health and retirement support to our staff for a while, but it has proved challenging.  Most programs available are too difficult to sustain over time or just out of our reach financially. Common Good is starting from a different place in that it is being designed specifically to eliminate the barriers that non-profits face in providing deserving staff with important benefits.  Not only will a successful program help staff, it will help our organization to attract and retain good people."

    Mark Bisset
    Mark Bisset Executive Director, The Couchiching Conservancy
  • “Social Services Network endorses and supports the idea of offering retirement options to small not-for-profit organizations like ours.  We believe the Common Good Retirement Initiative is critical from three perspectives:

    1. Increases the opportunity to recruit candidates for positions in small agencies that otherwise we would not be able to attract competitively
    2. Provides a great incentive for staff and rewards their passion and commitment to the organization
    3. Strengthens the NFP sector as a whole, compared to the private and public sectors where benefits are often better
    This is a boost for the sector if enough organizations get behind the idea.  We need to send the message that making a career choice to work in the NFP sector does not mean that one has to wholly sacrifice financial security.”

    Alykhan Suleman
    Alykhan Suleman Executive Director, Social Services Network
  • “I have been waiting for an initiative like the Common Good Retirement Plan for a long time.  For us in the not-for-profit sector, especially in small organizations like mine, thinking about providing this kind of benefit for our staff and ourselves is almost impossible.  I fully support this initiative and hope it becomes a reality soon. I truly believe it will be a great way of compensating our dedicated staff for all their efforts!”

    Maria Reolin
    Maria Reolin Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association of Peel Region
  • “It’s time for a united front from NGOs across this country to stand up and challenge the standard belief, ‘Oh, you work in non-profit so you make less money and have no security,” with action.  This movement could be the catalyst and platform to redefine what security looks like for community-based organizations. My belief as a leader is that the future sector (whom we need to stand up for) will not need to advocate for their fair pay, benefits and retirement; that equal compensation will be a given, and we will continue to focus our efforts on benefiting our communities.”

    Christina Fowler
    Christina Fowler Executive Director, The Learning Exchange
  • "The Common Good Retirement Initiative is an exciting and much needed flexible offering.  My colleagues and I were enthused to learn about the energies being spent on developing it.  Non-profit staff do all that they can to support and improve the lives of others. This is a great step in helping them enjoy the retirement that they deserve.  We have no doubt that it will have a meaningful impact on the lives of non-profit workers across the country."

    Paul M. Taylor
    Paul M. Taylor Executive Director, FoodShare Toronto
  • “CPAWS Yukon is a conservation organization, and working with groups who promote social equity and a healthy environment is important to us. For several years, our organization has been looking for a retirement savings plan that's both affordable and socially progressive. When we heard about Common Good, we were excited. We hope that soon we'll finally be able to offer our staff a retirement savings plan that's not only designed for our industry, but one that lets them feel confident that their investments align with their values.”

    Chris Rider
    Chris Rider Executive Director, CPAWS Yukon
  • “Small non-profit employers are excluded in providing a responsible financial planning program for employees due to the prohibitive cost.  All employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees have the ability to save and plan for their future retirement needs. The Common Good Retirement Initiative provides our employees the opportunity to have a flexible plan for their retirement planning, as well as supports our organization in retaining and attracting highly skilled professionals.”

    C.M. (Chuck) Dowdall
    C.M. (Chuck) Dowdall Executive Director, Kingston Literacy & Skills
  • “The Common Good Retirement Initiative presents a method of bringing the benefits of a structured retirement savings plan to non-profit and charity organizations, making it easier for people to automatically budget for their retirement.  Given the importance of savings to supplement retirement income and the sometimes complex system of navigating it alone, we at United Way of Bruce Grey look forward to being able to provide a straightforward, managed retirement savings option for staff.”

    Francesca Dobbyn
    Francesca Dobbyn Executive Director, United Way of Bruce Grey
  • “As a non-profit consulting company, we are concerned about the financial security of our freelancers.  We do not have employees, but instead a growing network of contractors from all over the world, many of whom are completely reliant on consulting income from a variety of sources.  We’re hoping that Common Good can offer a solid platform for retirement savings for our Canadian contractors, and enable them to keep contributing even when they aren’t working with LogicalOutcomes.”

    Sara Gaudon
    Sara Gaudon Executive Director, LogicalOutcomes
  • “In an era of rapid change with many economic, social and cultural dislocations, it is essential that civil society encourages collective initiatives which value the good of the many over that of the few.”

    Peter Burton
    Peter Burton Executive Director, Suoni Per Il Popolo
  • “We were very excited to hear about the Common Good Retirement Initiative at Thinking Rock.  As a small non-profit located in rural Northern Ontario, it's important for us to create local jobs in the arts and culture sector that are as sustainable, rewarding and stable as possible in order to attract and retain creative and talented northerners in this region.  Having access to an accessible, easy-to-understand, trustworthy and flexible retirement plan like that offered by Common Good - created with the unique needs of non-profit sector workers in mind - will allow us to do that in a way that simply wouldn't have been possible before, especially given our limited HR resources and small staff team.  This initiative will benefit our current staff, as well as our many contractors and temporary workers, and help us attract and retain additional core staff in the years to come.”

    Robin Sutherland
    Robin Sutherland Founding Artistic Director, Thinking Rock Community Arts
  • "As a nonprofit employer of a small team, it is important to me to provide the best possible working environment for my employees.  Motivating them to save for the future is a part of that. The Common Good Retirement Initiative will enable my organization to instil and support the habit of long-term financial planning by providing a higher quality, flexible plan for our employees with lower fees and less administrative burden for our organization."

    Meghan Moore
    Meghan Moore CEO, Loran Scholars Foundation
  • “An important part of Park People’s workplace culture is to provide opportunities for staff to expand their skills and build their career in our organization.  As a small non-profit, it’s very challenging for us to provide our staff with retirement planning. The Common Good Retirement Plan will allow us to provide those opportunities to our staff.  I am thrilled that the initiative is working to bring this new much-needed service to our sector."

    Dave Harvey
    Dave Harvey Executive Director, Park People
  • “Burnaby Community Services is dedicated to breaking the cycles of poverty and isolation.  In doing this work, our staff team dedicate themselves to improving the lives of others. We, as an employer, need to take care of those who give so much of themselves in addressing the most significant social issues in our community and helping those most vulnerable.  While we struggle to compensate our team in the way they deserve and have earned, in looking to invest in their future needs through the Common Good Retirement Plan, we hope to go some way to bridging that gap.”

    Stephen D’Souza
    Stephen D’Souza Executive Director, Burnaby Community Services
  • “People who choose to work in the non-profit sector often accept lower wages in order to do the meaningful work we do.  Saving for retirement may feel like an unaffordable luxury. Giving employees access to information and savings vehicles through the Common Good Retirement Initiative will be both empowering and enabling.  Our small organization is grateful for this initiative. It is timely and much-needed!”

    Margaret Tusz-King
    Margaret Tusz-King Executive Director, Open Sky Co-operative Ltd.

Here’s what you can do

Join the Initiative

Learn more about becoming a participating employer or member of the Common Good Retirement Plan by filling out our contact form.  We’ll get in touch with you, as well as provide a toolkit to help you introduce the initiative to your organization’s leaders and staff.

Take the Survey

We invited the nonprofit sector to answer a national retirement survey to gauge interest in the plan.  The survey is now closed, and we’d like to thank everyone who completed it.  Your contribution will help us design and launch the Common Good Plan.

Spread the Word

We need your help in getting the word out about the initiative.  Our Common Good engagement toolkit includes email templates and sample social media content.  Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @commongoodplan and share our posts.

Leading the way to retirement security

Steering Committee

Champions Council

Comprised of leaders from across the nonprofit sector who support the initiative and are committed to contributing to its success in their respective communities

Retirement Security Experts

Our Foundation Partners


  • "Retirement security is a feature of decent work in the non-profit sector.  By helping workers and organizations access a high-quality retirement plan, Common Good has the potential to raise employment standards in our sector and contribute to a more equitable, inclusive and prosperous Canada."

    Colette Murphy
    Colette Murphy Executive Director, Atkinson Foundation
  • "Low salaries are not uncommon in the nonprofit world, so it is important that these workers are given the support to start saving for their retirement.  Through my work with low-income earners, I know firsthand the challenges they face in securing their financial future.  The Common Good Retirement Plan would not only help these individuals preserve their government retirement benefits, but also assist the nonprofit sector in providing a high-quality retirement plan to its dedicated workforce."

    John Stapleton
    John Stapleton Innovation Fellow, Metcalf Foundation, and Principal, Open Policy Ontario
  • "People working in the community sector will have access to an effective and affordable retirement savings plan with the Common Good Retirement Plan.  It is being designed by people with financial expertise who also understand the nonprofit and charitable sector, and the financial pressures its employees face.  Common Good will provide people in the sector with a sound and viable retirement savings option that will make a comfortable retirement possible for many for the very first time."

    Alan Broadbent
    Alan Broadbent Chairman and Founder, Maytree
  • "Canada’s nonprofit sector labour force is not well-served by the current retirement support system (RRSPs / traditional pension).  This is because they are often lower-income or part-time workers with higher turnover rates. GIS claws back their pension, CPP and RRSP benefits.  That’s why I support the Common Good Retirement Initiative, which uses savings instruments designed to work better for this population."

    Richard Shillington
    Richard Shillington Social Policy Expert & Researcher
  • "Employees in the not-for-profit sector spend their careers working on behalf of others.  With the Common Good Retirement Initiative, we have an opportunity to support them by filling an important need for a high quality, portable retirement plan.  This innovative solution supports savings for sector employees at all income levels whether they currently have a retirement plan at work or not – and the plan has a legal duty to act in the best interests of its members.  I believe this is an excellent model with the potential to make a real difference in the financial security of so many dedicated workers."

    Rahima Mamdani
    Rahima Mamdani Vice President, Human Capital, United Way Greater Toronto
  • "At Social Capital Partners, we believe that you must tackle the present if you want to be properly prepared for the future.  The Common Good Retirement Plan is an example of a key innovation that will help the many non-standard workers in the nonprofit sector who have not been able to save for retirement through their employer.  We must address long-term financial security issues for employees if we are going to make Canada the best place to work in the nonprofit sector."

    Bill Young
    Bill Young President, Social Capital Partners
  • "As a nonprofit employer of a small team, it is important to me to provide the best possible working environment for my employees.  Motivating them to save for the future is a part of that.  The Common Good Retirement Initiative will enable my organization to instil and support the habit of long-term financial planning by providing a higher quality, flexible plan for our employees with lower fees and less administrative burden for our organization."

    Meghan Moore
    Meghan Moore CEO, Loran Scholars Foundation
  • "Those who work for our sector commit to their communities, their art, their environment.  While the organizations that employ them seek financial sustainability, the pressure to keep ‘administrative’ costs low is profound.  Often this effort means limiting benefits others take for granted; investment in retirement plans is one area employers in the sector struggle to realize for their teams.  The Common Good Retirement Initiative gives us an opportunity to offer sector employees yet another reason to stay in the sector, doing good work for good reasons.  It is an important initiative that will benefit communities across the country.  It is a pleasure to support it in anyway I can."

    Alison Brewin
    Alison Brewin Executive Director, Vantage Point
  • "The success of our non-profit and charitable sector rests on its ability to recruit and retain talented people, and one of the biggest missing pieces to achieving this has been the absence of an affordable retirement savings plan.  It's a complex challenge but a worthwhile one, considering the collective impact of those who belong to this sector.  We have a collective responsibility to care for those who take care of others, and I am excited to join the chorus for change."

    Adil Dhalla
    Adil Dhalla Executive Director, Centre for Social Innovation
  • "Retirement savings are a critical dimension of financial health, but very few workers in Canada’s nonprofit sector have access to high quality retirement savings plans.  That’s why I support the Common Good Retirement Initiative.  The people who care for our communities every day deserve our support in return and access to an affordable, accessible and portable retirement savings plan that works for them."

    Elizabeth Mulholland
    Elizabeth Mulholland CEO, Prosper Canada
  • "Why isn't this a thing already?  As someone who has worked in the social change sector for more than 10 years - I'm excited by the potential of the Common Good Retirement Plan to truly shift the way people like me think about saving for the future.  With the changing nature of work - and indeed the changing nature of retirement - a gold-plated pension after 25 years of service with the same organization just isn't in the cards for me.  Adaptive.  Flexible.  Nimble.  We all agree that these are valuable traits of people driving social change.  I think they can and should also apply to how people like me can better save for the future."

    Lee Rose
    Lee Rose Managing Director, Community Knowledge Exchange
  • "Having chosen the nonprofit sector as a career, I have seen many employees who are passionately dedicated to the mission and cause of their organizations, but have often done so at the expense of securing their financial future.  I believe in decent work, and part of that is ensuring that those who work so hard to secure the future for others can themselves depend on a good retirement.  Common Good provides a flexible, portable tool that provides the foundation for saving throughout your career, and is vital in ensuring a nonprofit workforce that can focus on good outcomes today knowing their own future income is assured."

    Owen Charters
    Owen Charters President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada
  • “The average employer in the non-profit sector is typically too small to be able to offer traditional pension plans to their employees.  A sector-wide model such as the one that Common Good is proposing is timely, sensible and simply asks that non-profit organizations work together and use one of their greatest strengths – the sheer number of them.  Critically, it provides a vehicle through which organizations could together achieve what they cannot do so alone, helping ensure that those who are working hard for the benefit of others will themselves be taken care of when they encounter the particular kind of vulnerability that comes with financial insecurity in old age.  I commend Common Good for pursuing this brilliant idea.”

    Franca Gucciardi
    Franca Gucciardi CEO, McCall MacBain Foundation
  • "A simple, cost-effective and portable way to save for retirement is essential for the well-being of people serving in the non-profit sector and to the health of the sector as a whole.  As non-profits struggle continually to do more with less, the Common Good Retirement Initiative is a shining example of positive innovation to address the non-profit retirement savings gap."

    Peter Chapman
    Peter Chapman Senior Advisor, SHARE

Secure a better retirement for all nonprofit workers

An initiative to create a national, portable retirement income plan for Canada’s nonprofit and charitable sector

Contact Us

Got questions about Common Good? Email us, and we’ll be in touch with you!

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