Why a State of Volunteering Report
Every day in BC, thousands of people are served and supported by volunteers. There are those whose time helps protect the most vulnerable, like the volunteer who brings meals to an elderly person at home without mobility, or the volunteer who answers a suicide crisis line. There are those who form the backbone of mobilizing resources for critical services, such as the volunteers who organize and participate in huge fundraising events like the SPCA’s Paws for a Cause or the BC Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. There are the volunteers who lead movements for social change and steer forward institutions, such as the boards of directors who guide forward the missions of our non- profi t organizations. There are volunteers who serve sporadically, helping out at a special event once a year, perhaps cleaning up a local park once a month, or there are those serving in an on-going role for years at a time. Volunteers perform duties of every kind imaginable and few in BC have not had their lives touched in some way by a volunteer, whether or not they know it.
Like the job market in BC, volunteerism faces its ups and downs, challenges and changes. It intersects with changing demographics, the health of the broader non-profi t sector, economic and political shifts, and emerging community needs. The face of volunteerism in BC is diverse, with common challenges shared across diff erent regions, and other issues unique to each location. Until now, no tool existed that could capture the overall state of volunteering in our province. Such a tool can facilitate strategic research-based action to support the sector and to make the most of our province’s volunteer resources.
It all begins in 2008 …
The 2008 BC State of Volunteering Report gives both a broad view of the health of volunteerism in its many facets, as well as specific experiences and examples from which insights can be drawn from five distinct parts of the province.
The Report also includes recommendations for action to address areas for improvement suggested by the findings, highlighting challenges alongside the success stories. This study undertaken by Volunteer BC, the provincial association for volunteer centres which celebrates its 30 anniversary in 2009, is based in qualitative data gathered in 2008. In future reports, a unique methodology developed by the Social Planning and Research Council of BC will include both qualitative and quantitative data to capture the scope of volunteering in BC, and its impact on our quality of life.