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Volunteering and charitable giving in Canada

March 16, 201616 March 2016

Volunteers and donors / Non-profit sector information

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Based on the General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering, and Participating, this article highlights the gifts of time and money made by individuals to all types of not-for-profit organizations in 2013.

Overall, 44% of Canadians volunteered a total of 1.96 billion hours in not-for-profit organizations in 2013, “equivalent to about 1 million full-time jobs”. The percentage of Canadians 15 or older who volunteered during the year decreased very slightly from 45% in 2004 to 44% in 2013. The change was very small but still statistically significant. During the same timeframe, the number of hours volunteered remained fairly stable (1.98 billion hours in 2004 and 1.96 billion hours in 2013).

On average, each volunteer donated 154 hours in 2013, a statistically significant decrease from 168 hours in 2004. The article indicates that older Canadians are less likely to volunteer but contribute more hours than younger residents. In fact, the average number of hours volunteered in 2013 was well above the overall average (154 hours) for Canadians 55 and older (203 hours for those between 55 and 64 years of age, 231 hours for those between 65 and 74, and 196 hours for those 75 and older). On average, men volunteer more hours per year than women (164 and 154 hours, respectively).

Among the provinces, the volunteer rate is well above the national average (44%) in Saskatchewan (56%), Manitoba (52%), Nova Scotia (51%), Prince Edward Island (50%), Alberta (also 50%), and British Columbia (49%). Quebec residents have a volunteer rate of 32%, well below the Canadian average (44%). The average annual hours volunteered is highest for residents of Nova Scotia (181 hours), New Brunswick (180), and Prince Edward Island (179), and lowest for residents of Quebec (123 hours). (The General Social Survey did not survey residents of the three territories.)

Regarding donating, the article finds that 82% of Canadians donated a total of $12.8 billion to not-for-profit organizations in 2013. The proportion of Canadians 15 or older who made a donation decreased from 85% in 2004 to 82% in 2013, but the amount donated increased from $10.4 billion to $12.8 billion over the same timeframe. (All of the financial figures in the article are adjusted for inflation.) Both changes were statistically significant.

The average annual gift per donor was $531 in 2013, a statistically significant increase from $469 in 2004. The article indicates that “donors aged 55 and over gave the most”, with the average annual donation exceeding $700 for those 65 and older. The average annual donation increases for each age group, with the strongest increase between those who are 35 to 44 years of age ($427) and those who are 45 to 54 years of age ($664). Men tend to donate higher amounts than women ($580 and $484, respectively).

Among the provinces, the average annual donation is highest for residents of Alberta ($863), British Columbia ($704), and Saskatchewan ($680), but lowest in Quebec ($264), New Brunswick ($345), and Newfoundland and Labrador ($350). The donor rate is highest in Newfoundland and Labrador (87%) and lowest in B.C. (78%).

Religious organizations receive 41% of all donations (a significant decrease from 45% in 2004), followed by health organizations (13% in 2013) and social service organizations (12%). Donations to arts and culture organizations represent 1% of donations to all types of not-for-profit organizations.

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