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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community
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A little help from a volunteerAccording to the 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating millions of Canadian volunteers continue to play a vital role in their communities. But there appear to be some significant changes in volunteer participation since the 1997 survey. Listed below are the top ten trends in volunteering as identified by Volunteer Canada. The topics offer a wide range of practical and philosophical discussion points.

1. Much comes from the few

One in four Canadians volunteer. Over one-third (34%) of all volunteer hours were contributed by the 5% of volunteers (who gave 596 hours or more of their time).

2. The new volunteer

  • More young people volunteer to gain work-related skills.
  • More seniors who travel or have multiple activities have less time available for volunteering.
  • More new Canadians volunteer to develop work experience and to practice language skills.
  • More persons with disabilities view volunteering as a meaningful way to participate in community life.

3. Volunteer job design

Volunteer job design can be the best defense for changing demographics and fluctuations in funding.

4. Mandatory volunteering

Mandatory volunteer programs through Workfare, Community Service Order and school mandated community work have created a new category of volunteers sometimes called "voluntolds."

5. Volunteering by contract

The changing volunteer environment is redefining volunteer commitment as a negotiated and mutually beneficial arrangement rather than a one-way sacrifice of time by the volunteer.

6. Risk management

Considered part of the process of job design for volunteers, risk management ensures the organization can place the right volunteer in the appropriate activity.

7. Borrowing best practices

The voluntary sector has responded to the changing environment by adopting corporate and public sector management practices including:

  • Standards, codes of conduct
  • Accountability and transparency measures around program administration
  • Demand for evaluation, outcome and import measurement

8. Professional volunteer management

Managers of volunteer resources are working toward establishing an equal footing with other professionals in the voluntary sector.

9. Board governance: challenges and contradictions

Volunteer boards must respond to the challenge of acting as both supervisors and strategic planners.

10. Volunteer development

Volunteer development is a pro-active response to the declining numbers of volunteers. By offering opportunities for training and growth, managers of volunteer resources can recruit and engage potential volunteers while retaining current participants.

A growing practice among voluntary organizations is to have volunteers keep time sheets of their hours. The reasons are two fold. The first reason is for volunteer recognition award celebrations. The second reason is that it helps organizations receive funding from sponsors and/or the government. Volunteer Canada estimates that if volunteers were getting paid they would receive $10.00 to $12.00 per hour. Voluntary organizations are in the position to say we couldn’t afford to operate, provide these services, and benefit the community, group, or cause without volunteers. Yet voluntary organizations still have infrastructure expenses such as paid staff, utility bills, telephone bills, insurance, office equipment, and furniture.



To find out more about the cataloguing of volunteer hours and the responses by non-profit/voluntary organizations, please see Estimating and Reporting the Value of Volunteer Contributions. This report was compiled in 2004 through the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy’s Knowledge Development Centre.
 

To succeed, non-profit organizations must also be aware of the motivations for and barriers to volunteering and donating. The Canadian Centre for Philanthropy compiled the following two reports based upon the results of the 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP):

Motivations and Barriers to Volunteering (PDF)
Motivations and Barriers to Donating (PDF)

Each report examines the reasons some Canadians cited for their commitment, or lack thereof, to non-profit or voluntary organizations.
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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community
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