Volunteering in Canada
Canadian Social Trends, April 16, 2012
IssueVolunteers and donors
This article examines the volunteer time given to not-for-profit organizations in 2010, based on a Statistics Canada survey of 15,482 Canadians 15 and over (the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating).
The volunteer rate (i.e., the percentage of Canadians 15 or older doing volunteer work) was 47% in 2010, which is a small but statistically significant increase from 2004 (45%). Total volunteer hours were 2.1 billion in 2010, which is a very small (and not statistically significant) increase from 2004. The 2.1 billion volunteer hours are the equivalent of about 1.1 million full-time, full-year jobs. The average hours per volunteer decreased by 7%, from 168 hours in 2004 to 156 in 2010. The median volunteer time was 55 hours per volunteer in 2010.
The top 25% of volunteers – Canadians who volunteered at least 161 hours in 2010 – represent over three-quarters of all volunteer hours (77%). The top 10% of volunteers (minimum 390 hours, the equivalent of about 10 full-time weeks) represent 53% of all volunteer hours.
Among different types of not-for-profit organizations, sports and recreation organizations receive the most hours (19% of total hours), followed by social service organizations (18%), and religious organizations (15%). Volunteer hours to arts and culture organizations represent 5% of hours volunteered in all types of not-for-profit organizations.
The article notes that “most volunteers devoted their energies to only one or two non-profit or charitable associations”: 50% worked for just one organization, 28% for two organizations, and the remaining 22% for three or more organizations.
The most common activities done by volunteers include fundraising (45% of all volunteers participated in this activity), organizing events (44%), sitting on a committee or board (33%), and teaching or mentoring (30%).
While younger Canadians are more likely to volunteer than older Canadians, younger people tend to give fewer hours. Single individuals, those with a university education, and higher-income Canadians are more likely to volunteer than other Canadians. Men and women tend to volunteer at fairly similar rates (48% for women and 46% for men).
The article indicates that “volunteers who were motivated enough to approach their main organization on their own initiative gave more hours, on average, than other volunteers – 142 versus 97 hours.” In addition, “people who were involved in community activities in their childhood or adolescence have a greater tendency” to become involved in volunteering, service clubs, and other organizations.
Among the provinces and territories, the volunteer rate is highest in Saskatchewan (58%), followed by Prince Edward Island (56%), Alberta (55%), Nova Scotia (54%), Manitoba (53%), and Newfoundland and Labrador (52%). The volunteer rate is lowest among residents of Quebec and the Northwest Territories (both 37%). The average hours volunteered are highest in Nova Scotia (207 hours per volunteer), followed by British Columbia (178), Northwest Territories (173), and Ontario (164).