The scope and value of volunteerism in Canada is impressive. It is estimated that one in three Canadians volunteer. The value of these contributions is well in excess of one billion hours a year – an estimated 500,000 full-time jobs. Saskatchewan has been recognized as the province with the highest per capita rate of volunteerism for several years in a row – higher than the national average. Our volunteers are the backbone of the cultural sector and help many non-profits accomplish some of the most innovative, not to mention cost-effective, community programming in the country.


Volunteers typically fill certain roles in non-profit organizations:

  • Determine policy as part of a governance group with legal responsibility for an organization, such as a Board of Directors;
  • Develop policy options as part of a working group, or committee, which works in key areas to develop options for a Board of Directors; and
  • Provide labour – including time, talent and expertise, as part of a group working for a cause, event, program or activity.


Non-profit organizations usually depend on the generous contributions of volunteers – particularly when they are starting up – when they lack financial resources to pay staff. The volunteer experience can be a meaningful opportunity to learn new skills, gain experience, support change, and help out one’s community.


People volunteer because of a desire to make positive differences in the world and more close to home, in the communities they live. Most hope that their contributions matter and benefit others in some way.

Volunteers often explain their interest and/or motivation for volunteering as:

  • Helping others;
  • Advancing their careers;
  • Getting away from the troubles of their everyday lives
  • Interacting with other people;
  • Being recognized for their efforts;
  • Fitting cultural norms; and
  • Helping the community.


Besides the intrinsic rewards of volunteering, certain factors keep volunteers coming back time and again. According to the report, What determines a Volunteer’s Effort?, by Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, organizations that want to achieve high levels of effort form their volunteers must ensure that volunteers accept their roles. This means ensuring that volunteers:

  • Have clearly defined roles;
  • Understand these roles;
  • Feel a sense of confidence in their ability to fulfill these roles;
  • Are satisfied with the extent to which they perceive themselves as helping their community and others; and
  • Are satisfied with the organization’s overall performance.

Other links:

Managing Volunteers in Your Organization

Checklist Screening Volunteers for Your Organization

The Role of Volunteers in Non-profit Organizations by Jack Shand, CAE and Kenneth Thacker, Canadian Society of Association Executives. 2002. http://www.csae.com/Resources/Bookstore/Book/tabid/185/ArticleId/1312/Role-of-Volunteers-in-Non-Profit-Organizations.aspx
How do Canadian Volunteers want to be recognized. Volunteer Canada, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, 2013. http://volunteer.ca/content/2013-volunteer-recognition-study
What Volunteers Contribute: Calculating and Communicating Value Added, by Jack Quarter, Laurie Mook, Betty Jane Richmond.  Volunteer Canada.  Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, 2002. http://www.imaginecanada.ca/files/www/en/library/iyv/quarter_man_english_web.pdf
Assigning Economic value to Volunteer Activity: Eight Tools for Efficient Program Management, by Michelle Goulbourne, and Don Embuldeniya. Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, 2002. http://sectorsource.ca/sites/default/files/resources/files/goulbourne_man_english_web.pdf
Valuing the Rural Volunteer Toolkit. The Ontario Rural Council, with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, 2002. http://www.fcssaa.org/sites/default/files/documents/Valuing%20The%20Rural%20Volunteer.pdf
Volunteer Screening, Volunteer Canada, 2014. http://volunteer.ca/content/screening