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Volunteerism in the Sector

Why Volunteer?

Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the BC community social services sector. By dedicating their time and skills without demanding monetary compensation, volunteers enable various community initiatives and charities, non-profit organizations, and community organizations to concentrate their resources on addressing the needs of communities across the province. Volunteer BC estimates that volunteers across the province contribute over 269 million hours of volunteer work each year.1

While the collective efforts of volunteers improve local services and help build stronger, more connected communities, volunteers also benefit from their service. People who volunteer experience increased physical and mental health, increased social skills, make new friends and form connections in their communities, and gain knowledge, skills and experiences that are useful for other parts of their lives (at home, school, careers, etc.). Studies about volunteering have found numerous mental health benefits to volunteers including reduced stress levels, lower rates of depression, an overall enhanced sense of life satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and increased sense of belonging.

Read Volunteer BC’s 2022-2023 annual report for more volunteer statistics and information here.

Motivations to Volunteer

People choose to volunteer for many reasons. One tool used by researchers to understand motivations for volunteering includes the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI).  The VFI was designed by E.G. Clary and colleagues in 1998. The VFI categorizes volunteer motivations into six dimensions:


Choosing to volunteer for altruistic and/or humanitarian reasons (to help others, give back to society, etc.).


Volunteer out of curiosity to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities (to develop a new perspective/worldview, learn through hands-on experience, etc.).


Volunteer as a means for personal growth and development (to make new friends, to be needed by others, etc.).


Volunteering can serve as a coping mechanism or a way to bolster one’s ego (volunteer as a distraction from hardships in one’s own life, to feel less lonely, etc.).


Choosing to volunteer to strengthen social ties (volunteer alongside friends/family,  connect with others in the community, etc.).


Volunteer to gain experiences that can translate to work-related opportunities (resume-building, networking,  exploring different career options, etc.).

Volunteerism Research Articles

Research Synthesis: Volunteering

Volunteerism is an essential component of British Columbia’s (BC) community social services (CSS) sector….

Dimensions of Community Social Service in BC

The community social services sector provides an array of services and supports to people across British Columbia (BC)….

The Importance of Social Eating

Results from The Nourish Study on the Importance and Implementation of Social Eating in the Context of British Columbia’s Food & Community Services Sector…

Understanding Volunteerism

Volunteering provides important services and benefits to Canadian society, including health promotion, reduced health care costs, and supplements to workforce shortages….

Meaningful Youth Volunteerism in Surrey Food Systems

The Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) has been investigating evidence from around the globe, contributing to the mental wellbeing of children and youth….