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Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians: Highlights from the 2004 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating

September 8, 20068 September 2006

Volunteers & donors / Nonprofit sector information

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Full report:

This report, based on a representative sample of over 22,000 Canadians, provides basic information about volunteers and donors in the entire non-profit sector in 2004. The report also provides some statistics specifically related to arts and culture volunteers.

Regarding volunteers, the report notes that “nearly 12 million Canadians, or 45% of the population aged 15 and over, did some volunteering” through a group or organization. These 12 million volunteers contributed about 2 billion hours – the equivalent of one million full-time jobs – to all types of organizations. The average number of volunteer hours was 168 per person in 2004.

Four types of organizations were most successful in attracting volunteers: sports and recreation organizations; social services organizations; education and research organizations; and religious organizations. Each of these four types of organizations attracted 10% or 11% of Canadians. The number of volunteer hours was dominated by the same four types of organizations.

The report estimates that 3% of the Canadian population (15 and over) volunteered in an arts and culture organization in 2004. These arts and culture volunteers provided an average of 120 hours each. The total number of hours volunteered in arts and culture organizations represents 4% of the hours volunteered to all types of organizations.

Regarding financial donations, the report notes that $8.9 billion was donated by the 22 million Canadians who reported giving some money to a charitable or other non-profit organization. Overall, 85% of the population 15 years of age or over reported a donation. The average donation level (on a yearly basis) was $400.

Religious organizations received the largest share (45%) of total donations, followed by health organizations (14%). No statistics regarding arts and culture donors or donations are provided in the report.

The report emphasizes the fact that a small number of donors contributed a significant portion of overall donations. The one-quarter of donors “who gave $325 or more during 2004 provided 82% of the value of all donations”. The most generous donors tend to be older, have high income levels, and have high levels of education.

Similarly, the one-quarter of volunteers “who contributed 180 hours or more accounted for 77% of total volunteer hours”. In contrast to the top donors, the top volunteers “were broadly distributed throughout the population. However, those who attend religious services on a weekly basis and those who have university degrees were much more likely than others to be top volunteers.”

On a provincial level, the highest volunteer rates were in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta. The highest donor rates were in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick. The highest average levels of donations were in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba. Quebec ranked last among the provinces in both the volunteer rate and the average level of donations. In fact, the average donation in Quebec ($176) was much lower than in the next-lowest province (Newfoundland and Labrador, $291) and about one-third of the level in the province with the highest average donation (Alberta, $500).

The data are not directly comparable to figures from 1997 and 2000 surveys because of changes in the survey approach and questionnaire.

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