Your Connection to Canada’s Volunteering Community

Nearly one million more volunteers since 2007

Mar 21, 2010

Newly unveiled research today from Canada’s most comprehensive study on giving and volunteering confirms an increase of nearly one million volunteers nationally. The 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating also reveals that young Canadians, 15-24, have consistently participated in volunteering more than any other age group for over a decade.

In 2010, a force of 13.3 million Canadians over the age of 15 participated in volunteering, an increase of more than 800,000 since 2007. These Canadians contributed 2.1 billion total volunteer hours. However, average annual volunteer hours decreased to 156 in 2010 from 166 in 2007. According to Statistics Canada, “the number of hours volunteered varied from one hour to a few thousand hours.”

“It appears as though more Canadians are beginning to get involved in a vast range of volunteering options that work better with their lifestyles,” said Ruth MacKenzie, President & CEO of Volunteer Canada.

“These findings are consistent with our landmark research study, Bridging the Gap, which suggests volunteering is now more widely accepted as an inclusive activity for many, not just something for a distinct class of ‘do-gooders’.”

Another noteworthy finding is that community involvement changes through different stages of life. 

The survey dispels the myth of disengaged youth. Canadians aged 15-24 volunteer more than any other age group at a rate of 58 per cent versus the overall rate of 47 per cent. This is a trend seen in the CSGVP since 2004.

“These findings show how critical it is to ensure young people have positive experiences when volunteering,” said MacKenzie. “Meaningful experiences can instill civic participation as a core value which can then lead to people being actively engaged throughout their life.”

The 2010 CSGVP data also highlights the difference in volunteering habits among baby boomers, the generation born between 1945 and 1964. A higher proportion of boomers aged 45 to 54 participate in volunteering than those aged 55 to 64 (45.4 per cent versus 40.8 per cent, respectively). However, boomers aged 55 to 64 contribute more average annual volunteer hours than those aged 45 to 54 (201 hours versus 167 hours, respectively).

“Boomers are a complex generation with diverse characteristics spanning substantially different points in their life cycle – everything from high-skills professionals to empty nesters to those caring for both children and aging parents, or perhaps even their children’s children,” said MacKenzie.

“All of these lifestyle realities compete with potential time for volunteering, which may explain the shifts we see in the data as boomers get older.”

MacKenzie said, “In this day and age, we’re seeing people find ways to engage in volunteering as never before – everything from quick bursts of micro volunteering through mobile handsets and Facebook applications, to leadership roles for all kinds of causes, to front-line volunteer aid in war-torn regions of the world.”

In the coming months, more information from the 2010 CSGVP will be released as part of an editorial series in Canadian Social Trends, a publication by Statistics Canada. These articles will explore in more depth the topics of volunteering and also charitable giving, as well as an article on the volunteering and giving habits of new Canadians and another on employer-supported volunteering. A special edition featuring a compilation of all these articles is also slated to be issued later in 2012.

At Volunteer Canada (www.volunteer.ca), we encourage all Canadians to get involved in their communities and we work with all types of organizations to engage today’s volunteers. Our expertise is backed by original research, practical knowledge, and our unique network of insight, which includes a broad range of organizations, from individuals to small volunteer centres to national corporations with thousands of staff.

Bridging the Gap (www.volunteer.ca/study) provides data about the changing culture of Canada’s voluntary sector. It captures what Canadians want in their volunteer experiences, their issues in finding satisfying volunteer roles, and what organizations can do to enhance their volunteer base, achieve their missions and ultimately build stronger communities.  The research focuses on youth, families, baby boomers, and employer-supported volunteers. The study was conducted in the summer of 2010 by Volunteer Canada, in partnership with Manulife Financial, Carleton University Centre for Voluntary Sector Research & Development and Harris/Decima.

ATTN. EDITORS: Please visit http://volunteer.ca/media-centre/media-kit to access data tables outlining key volunteering trends from 1997 to 2010. Reference pages to provincial data are available at the media link above, and Volunteer Canada is available to facilitate media interviews with provincial and territorial representatives.