It’s National Volunteers Week! What are you doing to help our community?

David F. Rooney

It’s National Volunteers’ Week! What are you doing to help out in our community?

A lot of people give money in lieu of physically joining a group or service organization but nothing beats actual membership and participation. And a lot of our local groups and organizations really, really need the membership.

The Knights of Pythias, the Masons, Toastmasters, Elks, Lions, Loyal Order of the Moose and other clubs contribute mightily to community life but suffer from declining membership.

The age of local volunteers is also a concern. Many are in their 50s, 60s and 70s and their organizations would benefit from an infusion of fresh, younger blood. There are few better ways to meet local people and build a real home in Revelstoke than to volunteer with a local group.

According to a national study by Statistics Canada the vast majority of Canadians provided either time or money to charitable and non-profit organizations in 2010.

In 2010, nearly 24 million people, or 84% of the population aged 15 and over, made a financial donation to a charitable or non-profit organization, for a total of $10.6 billion. Both the percentage of the population donating and the total amount of donations were relatively unchanged from 2007.

At the same time, more than 13.3 million people, or 47% of the population, volunteered their time through a group or organization.

The study said Canadians volunteered nearly 2.1 billion hours in 2010, the equivalent of nearly 1.1 million full-time jobs (assuming 40 hours per week for 48 weeks). The hours volunteered for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics represent approximately 0.7% of this total. Overall, the total number of hours remained relatively unchanged from 2007.

The average annual donation in 2010 was $446 per donor, virtually unchanged from 2007. Those who gave the most were more likely to be older, to have a higher household income and a formal education, or to attend weekly religious services or meetings.

Canadians who volunteered did so for an average of 156 hours in 2010, relatively unchanged from 2007.

Those who volunteered the most hours tended to be older, widowed and no longer in the workforce. They were also likely to not have any children at home and to attend weekly religious services or meetings.

However, the highest rates of volunteering were found among Canadians who were younger, were single, married or in a common-law relationship, or had young children at home.

The proportion of the population who made a financial donation to charitable and non-profit organizations was highest in the Atlantic provinces. However, the donors from the Western provinces donated higher average amounts. This pattern is, for the most part, unchanged from 2007.

Donor rates were the highest in Newfoundland and Labrador (92%) and in Prince Edward Island (91%). These were significantly above the national average of 84%. Rates for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut were the lowest nationally.

Charitable donors from Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia donated about $550 on average to a charitable or non-profit organization in 2010, among the highest in the country. Average donations were lowest in Quebec.

This information comes from the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP). It is the fifth in a series of surveys that began with the National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating in 1997. The survey was last conducted in 2007.

Starting this spring, Canadian Social Trends, a Statistics Canada flagship publication, will present a series of analytical articles exploring in more depth the topics of charitable giving, volunteering, employer support to charitable behaviours and new Canadians.

Click here to find out more about volunteerism in Canada.