The fact is, Canada’s non-profit sector has an astounding reach. According to research from Imagine Canada, the non-profit and charitable sector employs 8.1 million Canadians and contributes an average of 8.1 percent of GDP, which is more than the retail trade industry and close to that of oil, mining and gas extraction.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the people who are the life blood of the sector — donors and volunteers. According to Statistics Canada’s 2013 General Social Survey — Giving, Volunteering and Participating (GSS GVP), released in January of this year, 82 percent of Canadians donated to a charitable or non-profit organization in 2013, while 44 percent volunteered their time. The GSS GVP provides even more proof of the generosity of Canadians:

  • The average annual amount per donor in 2013 was $531. Overall, Canadians gave $12.8 billion to charitable or non-profit organizations in 2013.
  • Canadians contributed almost 2 billion volunteer hours,  the equivalent of 1 million full-time jobs — and spent an annual average of 154 hours volunteering.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

While this generosity is worthy of celebration, the GSS GVP did highlight some troubling trends. As we noted in an article about the report, the demographic trends are a cause for concern: “In 2013, Canadians aged 55 and older accounted for 34 percent of the total giving population aged 15 and older. However, this group contributed 39 percent of all volunteer hours and 47 percent of all donated dollars.”

Hope for the future

Still, there is hope for the future, and that hope is squarely placed on Millennials. The GSS GVP found that 66 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 had experience with volunteering and the 2013 Millennial Impact Report (US) found that 73 percent of those surveyed had volunteered their time for a non-profit in 2012 and 83 percent had made a financial gift. These figures show a remarkable opportunity for non-profit and charitable organizations to engage young Canadians.

And so, we’d like to offer our deepest gratitude to all of the volunteers, donors and employees who do so much every day to make our country a better place. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”