Economic Contribution of Volunteers

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Volunteers’ contributions are worth approximately $14 billion per year in Canada (Martinson & Halpern, 2011; National Seniors Council, 2010). This value is equivalent to 1.4% of Canada’s GDP.

The actual calculation of the economic value of volunteers is complex and requires the consideration of a number of factors. Volunteer Canada (2010) states, “Volunteer Canada believes that any measurement on the value of volunteer involvement must consider the resources needed to support volunteering and the social and economic development volunteering generates, integrating qualitative and quantitative measurements. Both aspects of measurement must be considered equally valid and compelling and each measurement presented in isolation of the other presents an incomplete picture of the true value of the contribution of volunteers.”

Though volunteers are not considered to be a replacement for employees, the amount of work that they provide through their commitment are seen as equal to work done by paid workers. It is important to see the economic value of our volunteers in the Niagara Region, and express it in terms of dollar amounts to highlight the unpaid work they are offering to our community. As well, Volunteer Canada points out that “many funders ask organizations to measure the economic value of volunteer time for the projects they fund.”

Source: Volunteer Canada
Retrieved From: http://volunteer.ca/content/assigning-economic-value-volunteering and http://volunteer.ca/content/discussion-paper-attaching-economic-value-volunteer-contribution

Volunteer Calculator by Imagine Canada
This tool is available on the Imagine Canada website.

Source: Imagine Canada
Retrieved From: http://volunteercalculator.imaginecanada.ca/eng/default.asp?tabsel=1

Ontario Partnership Project
A 2011 Partnership Project report published by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration highlights the nearly $50 billion economic impact of the for social profit (not-for-profit) sector in Ontario, and the related volunteer activity:

“The sector’s human resources are its greatest strength. Approximately one million people – 15 percent of Ontario’s total workforce – are employed in the not-for-profit sector. Five times that number are volunteers. The total economic impact of the sector is nearly $50 billion, representing more than 7.1 percent of GDP, a figure greater than the automobile and construction industries combined.

Each year, more than 5 million Ontarians donate over 820 million hours of their time to worthy causes in their communities. These volunteers govern and work with over 46,000 incorporated not-for-profit and charitable organizations. Their volunteer time is valued at the equivalent of 400,000 full-time jobs. Ontario’s volunteers have a strong impact on the quality of life and the economic and social well-being of the province. They also play a critical role in attracting new investment and jobs to communities by providing a strong recreational, cultural and social infrastructure.”

Source: Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Ontario Trillium Foundation
Retrieved From: http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/keyinitiatives/partnership/part_project.pdf

Value Generated by the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP)
The CVITP is a collaborative initiative between the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and community organizations. The organizations host tax preparation clinics and arrange for volunteers to prepare income tax and benefit returns for eligible individuals who have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

Source: Revenue Canada
Retrieved From: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/volunteer/

The INCommunities database lists CVITP clinic sites in Niagara. Currently, demand for these clinics far exceeds supply; INCommunities is partnering with the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network to encourage additional host sites. These clinics allow low income earners the ability to receive various tax benefits, credits and monthly incomes such as Old Age Security.

It is necessary for low income earners to demonstrate a completed tax return has been filed in order to access benefits such as subsidized housing and childcare subsidies. Income received goes directly back into our local economy and reduces the burden to other income systems.

Source: INCommunities
Retrieved From: http://niagara.cioc.ca/bresults.asp?SubjID=1133

The United Way of Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie estimates that the time invested by a volunteer preparing a tax return for a low income Niagara resident equates to a dollar return value of approximately $1,874 an hour!

This amount is based on the following formula: Assuming that a single individual with no children earns $12,000 a year, that person would receive $954 in entitlements after filing his or her income tax return. At one Niagara Falls tax clinic site in 2014, four volunteers prepared 167 returns over a period of 85 hours. Based on the previous assumption, that’s a total value generated by volunteer activity of $159,318 over 85 hours or $1,874 an hour.

Source: United Way of Niagara Falls and Fort Erie
Retrieved From: Personal correspondence with Carol Stewart-Kirkby, ED, United Way of Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie http://www.unitedwayniagara.org/

Trend in Volunteering Statistics for Niagara Region Senior Services
Trend in Volunteering Statistics for Niagara Region Senior Services (from 2011 to 2013)

  • Also, Seniors Services benefits from the services of over 800 volunteers who contribute at least $1 million in services and raise approximately $.25 million annually for various resident needs.” Niagara Region Report COM 10-2012

Retrieved From: http://www.niagararegion.ca/council/Council%20Documents/OCRBW-COM%2010-20122012-04-11%20114303.pdf

  • In 2012, Seniors Services’ residents and clients received at least 88,000 hours of service from the 906 volunteers who are involved in the Niagara Region’s eight long—term care homes and community programs. The estimated value of these hours, using a minimum wage value of $10.25/hr., is approximately $902,000; however, the actual value is much greater given the many high skilled services our volunteers provide.“ Niagara Region Report COM 10-2013
  • The various volunteer fundraising initiatives provided the long-term care homes with approximately $273,000 in 2012, to support the homes’ purchases of resident care equipment and other quality of life improvements for the residents of the homes.” Niagara Region Report COM 10-2013

Source: Niagara Region Community Services
Retrieved From: http://www.niagararegion.ca/council/Council%20Documents/OCRBW-COM%2010-20132013-03-19%20113826.pdf

  • “In 2013 952 volunteers again contributed well over $1 million (donations of time and money) to our homes: volunteers provided 83,274 hours of service to the residents and clients of our long-term care homes and community programs (at just the minimum wage rate the value exceeds $850,000)” Niagara Region Report COM 07-2014

Source: Niagara Region Community Services
Retrieved From: http://www.niagararegion.ca/council/Council%20Documents/COM%2007-2014.pdf

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