Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians: Highlights from the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating

    Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians: Highlights from the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating

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    One of the remarkable features of Canadian life is the extent to which we reach beyond our families and friends to contribute to others and our communities through charitable giving, by volunteering time to charitable and nonprofit organizations and by helping individual Canadians directly. As the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) demonstrates, the vast majority of Canadians give, volunteer, and help others, although some do so much more than others. The CSGVP provides a window into these activities and enables us to understand the extent and depth of these prosocial behaviours, the motivations underlying them and also allows us to track how such behaviours evolve or change over time.

    The 2007 CSGVP is the fourth iteration of a series of surveys that began with the 1997 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP). The NSGVP was developed through a unique partnership of federal government departments and nonprofit and voluntary organizations that included Imagine Canada (formerly the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy), Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Kahanoff Foundation, Statistics Canada, and Volunteer Canada. It was first conducted as a special survey by Statistics Canada in 1997 and again in 2000 as part of the federal government's Voluntary Sector Initiative. In 2001, the federal government provided funding to Statistics Canada to establish a permanent survey program on charitable giving, volunteering and participating. The survey was renamed the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP).

    The establishment of a permanent survey program provided an opportunity to review the design of the survey to ensure that it would provide the highest quality information on an ongoing basis. Consultations were held with a variety of stakeholders from the charitable and nonprofit sector, government, as well as the academic community to identify ways to improve the survey. The survey platform was also changed. Previously, the NSGVP had been conducted with respondents who participated in the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Because of concerns about the demands being placed on LFS respondents, the CSGVP was conducted as a stand-alone telephone survey utilizing a Random Digit Dialling (RDD) frame beginning in 2004.

    Although the activities that are the focus of this study are an important feature of Canadian society, they can be surprisingly difficult to measure. The observed rates of giving, volunteering and participating in 2004 and 2007 are greater than those found in either the 1997 or 2000 NSGVP. However, the 2004 and 2007 CSGVP employ a different survey platform and a somewhat different questionnaire than did the previous NSGVP surveys. These changes make it inappropriate to compare results from the CSGVP surveys with previous NSGVP surveys (for more information, see Appendix C of the 2004 CSGVP report).

    The content of the CSGVP also varies somewhat between iterations, as some questions are cycled in or out to make room for additional content. For example, the 2004 CSGVP asked questions about the supports that employers may offer for volunteering and about participation or membership in groups, organizations and associations. The 2007 CSGVP did not contain this content, but the intent is to bring these questions back in subsequent versions of the survey. In 2007, the survey asked questions concerning youth experiences and skills obtained through volunteering that had not been asked in 2004.

    The CSGVP is the combined result of two separate but related surveys. The first component is the main CSGVP which is a national survey of Canadians residing in every province.1 The second is the CSGVP–North, which has identical content to the CSGVP but utilized different sampling techniques to account for the smaller and widely dispersed communities of the territories. Both surveys are designed to be conducted every three years.

    The CSGVP and CSGVP–North were conducted by Statistics Canada from September 10 to December 8, 2007. The CSGVP employed a representative sample of 20,510 Canadians aged 15 and older while the CSGVP–North surveyed a representative sample of 1,317 Canadians aged 15 and older. The results for both surveys have been combined for the purposes of this report.

    The CSGVP provides the most comprehensive assessment of giving, volunteering and participating ever undertaken in Canada and, to our knowledge, in the world. It provides information about how Canadians:

    • donate money and in-kind gifts to charitable and nonprofit organizations;
    • volunteer time to charitable and nonprofit organizations; and
    • provide direct help to others.

    This research allows us to report on the state of charitable giving, volunteering and helping in 2007. It provides a portrait of the many ways in which Canadians express their interests, their values about community involvement and their compassion towards others.


    1. The term Canadians is used throughout this publication to refer to the population targeted by the survey. Residents of Canada who were not Canadian citizens may have been respondents to this survey and only persons aged 15 and older were included. For a complete definition of the target population, please refer to Appendix 1, Glossary of terms.
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