Research Synthesis: Volunteering

SPARC BC

At SPARC BC, we’re committed to building a just and healthy society for all. For over 50 years, we have worked in partnership with individuals, organizations and all levels of government to meet the social development needs of people and communities.

Volunteerism is an essential component of British Columbia’s (BC) community social services (CSS) sector. It serves as a key support and enabler for CSS organizations contributing to community well-being. This report synthesizes findings and key insights on volunteerism from research conducted by the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) and its community research partners, with the aim of improving our understanding of and identifying opportunities for CSS sector strengthening.

Volunteerism reflects altruism, with individuals generously offering their time, experience, and skills— free of charge—to assist others. In the CSS sector, volunteers play a crucial role in facilitating positive change, addressing service gaps, helping service providers extend their impact on limited budgets, and strengthening community bonds.

Volunteerism in Canada

Volunteerism plays a vital role in addressing social development needs across Canada, with significant implications for the CSS sector. For instance, volunteerism serves as a cornerstone of social cohesion and community resilience, contributing to various aspects of social development, including healthcare, education, and poverty reduction. Statistics Canada’s data highlights the widespread engagement of Canadians in volunteer activities, underscoring the significance of volunteerism in addressing societal challenges.

According to the latest report by Statistics Canada (2021), over 24 million Canadians aged 15 and over volunteered their time in 2018, representing 79% of the population. The total number of volunteer hours amounted to approximately 5 billion, equivalent to over 2.5 million full-time year-round jobs. (Statistics Canada, 2021). These figures underscore the substantial contribution of volunteers to the Canadian economy and social fabric.

To learn more about this research project and its findings, view the entire body of work here:

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