Volunteers and Donors in Arts and Culture Organizations in Canada in 2013

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This is the first of three reports in this issue of the Arts Research Monitor that is based on Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering, and Participating (a survey of 14,714 Canadians 15 or older). This report delves into arts and culture statistics, while the two other reports focus on all volunteers and donors in Canada.

A key finding of this report is that there were “1 million donors and 900,000 volunteers in arts and culture organizations” in 2013. The 896,000 arts and culture volunteers represent 3% of all Canadians 15 or older. Arts and culture volunteers gave a total of 107 million hours in 2013, the equivalent of approximately 56,000 full-time, full-year jobs. The report estimates that this work effort would be worth about $1.9 billion.

In 2013, each volunteer gave, on average, 120 hours of their time to arts and culture organizations, more than the average hours volunteered in any other type of organization. The top 10% of arts and culture volunteers (who donated at least 294 hours) “contributed 55% of total volunteer hours in arts and culture organizations”. Arts and culture volunteers also tend to be very loyal: 39% of them volunteered with the same organization for at least five years.

The most common motivations for volunteering in arts and culture organizations are making a contribution to their community (94% of arts and culture volunteers) and using their skills and experiences (86%).

On a provincial level, the report cautions that “the estimates of volunteers in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec have a relatively high margin of error and should be used with caution”. That being said, the report does indicate that the four Western provinces have the highest proportion of the population who volunteer in the arts and culture, led by Saskatchewan (5%), British Columbia (also 5%), Manitoba (4%), and Alberta (also 4%).

Between 2004 and 2013, there was a 23% increase in the number of arts and culture volunteers, compared with a 7% increase in all volunteers. Similarly, the 22% increase in the number of hours volunteered in arts and culture organizations is much higher than the 1% increase in volunteer hours in all types of not-for-profit organizations.

In 2013, 3% of Canadians 15 or older (1 million people) donated to an arts and culture organization. Total donations were $162 million, representing just over 1% of donations to all types of not-for-profit organizations. On average, donors gave $159 to arts and culture organizations, ranking sixth out of 13 types of not-for-profit organizations.

Three motivations were noted most commonly by arts and culture donors: helping a cause in which they personally believe (95% of arts and culture donors), feeling compassion towards people in need (91%), and making a contribution to the community (also 91%).

Similar to the provincial estimates of volunteers, the report indicates that the four Western provinces have the highest proportion of the population who donate to arts and culture organizations, led by Manitoba (5%), British Columbia (4%), Alberta (also 4%), and Saskatchewan (also 4%). The report warns that “the estimates of donors in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and each of the Atlantic provinces have a relatively high margin of error and should be used with caution”.

Between 2007 and 2013, the number of donors to arts and culture organizations grew by 34%, much higher than the 6% increase in all types of not-for-profit organizations. During the same timeframe, there was a 46% increase in the value of donations to arts and culture organizations (after adjusting for inflation), compared with the 16% growth in donations to all types of not-for-profit organizations.

Summary: 

A key finding of this report, which delves into statistics on arts and culture volunteers and donors, is that there were “1 million donors and 900,000 volunteers in arts and culture organizations” in 2013.