Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey

    Volunteering and charitable giving in Canada


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    • In 2013, 12.7 million Canadians or 44% of people aged 15 years and older did volunteer work. They devoted about 1.96 billion hours to their volunteer activities, a volume of work that is equivalent to about 1 million full-time jobs.
    • The volunteer rate in 2013 (44%) was lower than that recorded in 2004 (45%), in 2007 (46%) and 2010 (47%).
    • However, the total number of hours Canadians volunteered remained stable between 2010 and 2013.
    • Just like the general population, the population of volunteers is aging. In 2013, 28% of all Canadian volunteers were aged 55 and older, compared to 23% in 2004.
    • Older volunteers are more likely to do certain types of activities. For example, in 2013, 42% sat on a committee or board, compared to 34% of volunteers aged 35 to 54 and 26% of volunteers aged 15 to 34. Older volunteers are also more likely to provide health care or support, such as companionship, through an organization.
    • Also mirroring the overall population, volunteers are becoming more and more educated. From 2004 to 2013, the percentage of volunteers aged 25 to 64 with a university degree rose by 4 percentage points to 39%.

    Charitable giving

    • In 2013, the vast majority of Canadians (82%) made financial donations to a charitable or non-profit organization.
    • While the proportion of people aged 15 and over who made a financial donation was down by two percentage points from 2010, the trend in the donation amount followed the opposite direction.
    • Between 2010 and 2013, the total amount donated by Canadians to charitable or non-profit organizations increased by 14% to $12.8 billion.
    • Older donors gave more on average. For example, donors aged 75 and over gave an average of $726 to non-profit or charitable organizations, compared to $531 for all Canadian donors.
    • In 2013, older Canadians aged 55 and older accounted for 34% of the total population aged 15 and over and 35% of donors. However, they contributed 47% of all donations made during the year.
    • In 2013, the 10% of donors who gave the most contributed $8.4 billion or 66% of all donations made during that year. In comparison, in 2010, the 10% of donors who gave the most contributed $7 billion or 63% of total donations.
    • In 2013, donations made to religious organizations represented $5.2 billion, or 41% of all dollars given in that year.
    • Among non-religious organizations, organizations in the health sector ($1.7 billion) and social services organizations ($1.6 billion) ranked second and third in terms of amount collected from individual donors.
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