Statistics Canada released the results of its 2010 Canadian Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) last Wednesday.
Released every three years, this iteration again provides some intriguing updates to how much (and how many) Canadians are giving back to their communities.
Here's the first number on StatCan's list: 24 million.
That represents the number of Canadians who made donations to charities in 2010.
Think about that. That's close to 84% of Canadians who took time to fish into their wallets or purses and shell out some cash for a cause. It also represents a total of $10.6 billion donated in 2010. However, the survey notes that both the percentage of the population donating and the total amount of donations remained virtually unchanged from 2007, with the average donation in 2010 at $446.
Volunteering also unchanged
The survey also found that the percentage of Canadians who volunteered in some form in 2010 also saw flat movement since the 2007 CSGVP.
Canadians volunteered nearly 2.1 billion hours in 2010, the equivalent of nearly 1.1 million full-time jobs, the survey found. But once again, Statistics Canada quickly notes that these numbers are unchanged from 2007. The average hours volunteered by Canadians in 2010 was 156, down from 166 in 2007.
However, while the hours remained flat, Volunteer Canada notes that there were actually more than 800,000 more volunteers in Canada in 2010 than in 2007.
Ruth MacKenzie, president and CEO of Volunteer Canada noted happily that in 2010 13.3 million Canadians over the age of 15 (the starting age used by Statistics Canada) were volunteers.
"It appears as though more Canadians are beginning to get involved in a vast range of volunteering options that work better with their lifestyles," she said. "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'."
As an interesting side-stat, the CSGVP takes into account how much volunteerism at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics impacted the survey's numbers. It turns out volunteers at the games accounted for 0.7% of the total hours in Canada.
Another thought-provoking fact revealed by the survey is that the bulk of actual volunteer hours was attributed to senior citizens and retired Canadians; but the highest rates or volunteerism were found among "Canadians who were younger, were single, married or in a common-law relationship, or had young children at home."
Volunteer Canada, a partner on the survey, notes that with these findings, the survey demonstrates that Canadians aged 15-24 are more engaged in volunteering than any other age bracket.
"The survey dispels the myth of disengaged youth," the organization said.
MacKenzie goes a step further.
"These findings show how critical it is to ensure young people have positive experiences when volunteering," she said. "Meaningful experiences can instill civic participation as a core value which can then lead to people being actively engaged throughout their lives."
East vs. West
Also of interest are the regional giving and volunteering numbers. The survey found that Atlantic Canadians made, on average, the highest number of donations to charitable and nonprofit organizations in the country. In contrast, donors from the West donated higher average amounts. The CSGVP breaks these trends down as follows: "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 nonprofit organization in 2010, among the highest in the country. Average donations were lowest in Quebec."
As far as volunteering statistics go, the survey found that 58% of the population of Saskatchewan and 56% of the population of Prince Edward Island aged 15 and over volunteered the most in the country, higher than the national average of 47%. Conversely, the Northwest Territories and Quebec were among the provinces and territories with the lowest volunteer rates.
"When comparing the amount of time volunteered, volunteers from Nova Scotia devoted 207 hours on average to volunteer work in 2010, the highest average in Canada. Volunteers from Yukon and Quebec devoted the fewest hours on average," according to the report.
Talkin' about the generations
Volunteer Canada also provided some interpretations about generational participation rates based on the outcomes of the survey.
The 2010 CSGVP data shows a difference in volunteering habits among different strata of the baby boom generation, the generation born between 1945 and 1964. Based on the data it has analyzed thus far, Volunteer Canada says that a greater proportion of boomers aged 45 to 54 volunteer than those aged 55 to 64; 45.4% versus 40.8%, respectively. But 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," MacKenzie notes on Volunteer Canada's website. "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."
She adds: "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 frontline volunteer aid in war-torn regions of the world."
More statistical analysis on the way
Throughout 2012, both Volunteer Canada and Statistics Canada will release more information from the 2010 CSGVP as part of an ongoing 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 compendium edition featuring a compilation of all the forthcoming articles mentioned above is also slated for issue later in 2012.
And in case you're wondering how the survey comes about, the current CSGVP was a joint initiative between numerous federal government departments and nonprofit sector organizations, including the Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Imagine Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and Volunteer Canada.
Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf is president of WordLaunch professional writing services in Toronto. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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