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Andrew Robinson
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N.L. maintains best donor rate in Canada

Penny Rowe, CEO of the Community Sector Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, is pleased with the latest results of the Canadian Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating. — Telegram file photo

Newfoundland and Labrador is once again leading the way in charitable donations, based on the latest findings of a Statistics Canada survey.

The 2010 Canadian Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, released Wednesday, found the province had the highest donor rate in Canada (92 per cent). The figure represents the percentage of the population aged 15 and over who made at least one donation to a charity or non-profit group within a 12-month period.

“That’s a very high level of civic engagement,” said Penny Rowe, CEO of the Community Sector Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. “It means only eight per cent of the population are not giving anything.”

The 2010 figure represents a one percentage point increase over the donor rate from the 2007 survey. Average annual donations also increased from the 2007 survey ($300) to 2010 ($331). The Canadian average in 2010 was $446.

“It could be that there’s more money in the province,” said Rowe. “It could be that’s the natural increase from inflation over this period of time. It could be that people are more efficient and effective in their fundraising, and it could be that people are affiliating themselves with more causes and being more generous.”

The volunteer rate in Newfoundland and Labrador also improved in the latest survey, jumping from 46 per cent in 2007 to 52 per cent in 2010 among citizens aged 15 and over. The 2010 figure was above the Canadian average of 47 per cent and ranked sixth among all provinces and territories.

However, the latest data also identified a continuing trend among volunteers in the province of committing less time to such endeavours. Average annual volunteer hours for those surveyed dropped from 176 hours to 155. In the 2004 survey, that figure was 188.

“That could be attributable to the fact more people are engaged who are just getting engaged (in volunteerism),” said Rowe, “but the good news is that we have more people doing the volunteer work that needs to get done.”

The Canadian average for annual volunteer hours is 156.

Amongst other data, Rowe was particularly pleased with the volunteer rate for people in Newfoundland and Labrador between the ages of 15 to 24. At 74.2 per cent, it was the best result in Canada and an eight-percentage point improvement over the 2007 survey result.

“We’re constantly hearing in this province that young people don’t get engaged, and yet when you look at the six age (ranges),  young people 15 to 24 have a higher rate of voluntary participation than any other age group.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s donor rate was second-best within the same age group across Canada, at 78.5 per cent, trailing only Nova Scotia.

Rowe was also pleased to see the volunteer rate for people aged 25 to 34 improve from 2007 to 2010 — from 41 per cent to 46 per cent. She has heard concerns expressed within her sector about who will succeed older volunteers once they are no longer able to contribute.

“What we can see is these younger people are starting to participate at a rate higher than they did when the last survey was done, so that’s probably a very good signal.”

Rowe noted the survey does not provide data on a regional basis within the province, and said it would be valuable for the provincial government to consider conducting a survey of its own on charitable donation and volunteer trends.

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Community Sector Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia

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