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At 2 Billion Hours Volunteered, Canada Ranks 15th In The World

The World Giving Index (WGI), an annual report published by the Charities Aid Foundation, ranks over 140 countries according to how charitable they are. Ranking is based on how much they help a stranger, how much they volunteer and how much they donate. The aim of the WGI is to provide insight into the scope and nature of giving around the world.

According to the World Giving Index, in 2013, Canada ranked second in the world. Then third in 2014 and fourth in 2015. It only gets worse from there. Last year, Canada came in 15th. Indonesia was number one in 2018 followed by Australia, New Zealand and, wait for it, the United States.

Despite a steady drop in our WGI rank, some of the most recent research from Stats Canada shows that about one-half of Canadians volunteer annually. 84 percent of Canadians also donate money to charities and non-profits each year; on average $446 dollars per person for a combined $10.6 billion.

Over 13 million people – 47% of Canadians aged 15 and over – volunteer over 2 billion hours annually. And impressive number but, if the WGI tells us anything, it’s not to get too comfortable. In keeping with the ‘80:20 Rule’, a small proportion of volunteers do most of the work.

10% of volunteers in Canada

account for over 50%

of all volunteer hours.

Like many of the over 170,000 charities and non-profit organizations in Canada, Haven Toronto relies on volunteers to help deliver services year-round. A small, dedicated and passionate team of individuals, groups and corporations volunteered on 100 days at Haven Toronto last year. In that time, our volunteers helped serve 55,000 meals and distribute over 13,000 articles of clothing.

(A reminder that there are still 365 days in a year, and Haven Toronto is open every one of them.)

The decision to volunteer is often influenced by personal circumstance, by work and by family. 43% of volunteers in Canada said they did their volunteer work as part of a group, with co-workers, friends and neighbours. 25% said they volunteered with family.

Where to volunteer is also often based on personal circumstance. Sports and recreation rank number one with 12% of the volunteers and 19% of the volunteer hours in Canada. Another 12% of Canadians volunteer for non-profit organizations providing social services. Volunteering in education and research, religious organizations and health organizations makes up the difference.

When you look at the reasons for volunteering, there are two re-occurring themes: one, volunteering to give back and, two, volunteering to gain experience.

There are volunteers who use the opportunity to expand their expertise, fill their resume and grow their networks. And there are volunteers who wish to make a difference and improve the lives of others. Both groups will tell you volunteering is fulfilling.

Although one could be considered philanthropic, the other may be considered more pragmatic. That said, both could also be viewed as self-serving. Wait! What?! Self-serving? From someone who has experience volunteering, here's why:

"You will undoubtedly take more

from the experience

than you can give."

There is something special about volunteering, about the fulfilling feeling you get from helping others – no matter what the reason. If that's self-serving, we hope more people have a selfish side to them.

For more information about volunteering at Haven Toronto, visit




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