Volunteering in Canada, 2004 to 2013

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This article provides a more in-depth examination of Canadian volunteers and trends in volunteering between 2004 and 2013 than a similar Statistics Canada article (Volunteering and charitable giving in Canada, summarized elsewhere in this issue of the Arts Research Monitor). The article is based on the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, which surveyed 14,714 Canadians 15 and older about their volunteer activities.

While 59% of Canadians had volunteered at some point in their lives, 44% did so in 2013. For the 12.7 million volunteers in 2013, the most common activities include organizing events (46% of all volunteers participated in this activity), fundraising (45%), and sitting on a committee or board (33%).

The most common motivations for volunteering include making a contribution to the community (93%), using their skills and experience (77%), being personally affected by the cause supported by the not-for-profit organization (60%), and wanting to improve their own well-being or health (52%).

Among different types of not-for-profit organizations, the article notes that “about two-thirds (64%) of all volunteer hours were devoted to the four leading sectors, including 20% for social services, 18% for sports and recreation, 15% for religious organizations and 11% for education and research”. Volunteer hours in arts and culture organizations represent 6% of hours volunteered in all types of not-for-profit organizations.

Regarding barriers to volunteering, the survey results show that a lack of time is the most common barrier (cited by 66% of non-volunteers), followed by an inability to make a long-term commitment (62%), preferring to give money instead of time (54%), and not having been asked to volunteer (49%).

Summary: 

While 59% of Canadians had volunteered at some point in their lives, 44% did so in 2013. For the 12.7 million volunteers in 2013, the most common activities include organizing events (46% of all volunteers participated in this activity), fundraising (45%), and sitting on a committee or board (33%)