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The 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) shines a light on a set of activities that are important to many Canadians – charitable giving, volunteering and helping others. Most Canadians engage in at least one of these activities over the course of year. They do so out of compassion, to support the causes they believe in, and to improve their communities.
While there has been little change in the percentage of Canadians who give, volunteer or help since 2004, there has been an increase in the total dollars and volunteer hours contributed. While some of this can be attributed to simple population growth, there is evidence that donors have, on average, increased the amounts they are giving.
This report provides a descriptive overview of key findings from the 2007 CSGVP. Giving, volunteering and helping are all subject to influence by a complex set of factors that include economic conditions, demographics, social values and public policies. In addition, each of these behaviours is related to one another, and may ultimately stem from the same underlying values or orientation to the world. The exploration of all of these relationships is beyond the scope of the present report, however, the findings presented here do provide a starting point for better understanding giving, volunteering and helping in Canada.
The CSGVP 2007 demonstrates that Canadians use a variety of avenues to express their social values and pursue their interests. Almost everyone gives either money or goods to charities and nonprofit organizations. Just under half (46%) volunteered their time to an organization and 84% helped people on their own, not through an organization (for example, by doing housework for them or by driving them to appointments).
Although the vast majority of Canadians engage in these activities, the level of their involvement varies dramatically. Half of Canadian donors gave $120 or less per year and half of volunteers contributed 56 hours or less. On the other hand, a small number of people are highly engaged in these activities – 10% of donors provided 62% of the total value of donations and 10% of volunteers contributed 54% of all volunteer hours.
As we have noted, giving, volunteering and helping are linked such that people who engage in one activity are likely to engage in the others. For example, volunteers are more likely to make charitable donations than are those who do not volunteer and they are also more likely to give help directly to others. As a result, those who are highly active in one area are also likely to be highly active in other areas. Indeed, the CSGVP shows that a small group of 14% of Canadians provided 59% of all donated dollars and 40% of all volunteer hours to charitable and nonprofit organizations.
The title of this report—Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians—summarizes its central theme. Canadians, as a people, give, volunteer, and help one another directly. While some do more than others, these behaviours are nevertheless broad and pervasive. Many channel their compassion and contributions though charitable and nonprofit organizations and many also engage directly, providing help and assistance on their own. Through their involvement they have helped to make their communities and their country better places in which to live.