Dr. Megan Conway
President and CEO, Volunteer Canada
Volunteer Canada believes in the importance of strengthening Canada’s volunteering infrastructure through cross-sectoral partnerships that contribute to building a more caring, participating and engaged Canada.
Individual acts of formal and informal volunteering shape our workplaces, neighbourhoods, communities, and country. We’ve long prided ourselves as a country of people who give back — and yet current data indicates rates of volunteering are on the decline across the country. Fewer numbers of volunteers have returned after the pandemic despite data indicating that essential services such as foodbanks and shelters are in greater demand.
What can we do individually and collectively to reverse this trend, and why should we consider volunteering?
More than ever, volunteering is a critical activity that helps rebuild our communities and reconnect us to one another in small and big ways.
Volunteer Canada believes in the importance of strengthening Canada’s volunteering infrastructure through cross-sectoral partnerships that contribute to building a more caring, participating, and engaged Canada.
Volunteering, formal service, or informal volunteering through mutual aid, advocacy, and helping your neighbours, colleagues or friends is what connects us as Canadians. We volunteer because we are passionate about addressing a common challenge or goal. We also volunteer to build new skills or to learn about our community. For example, youth and newcomers gain tremendous skills through volunteering — many indicate that volunteering helps lead them toward a new job or a longer-term career. But, beyond skill development, volunteering builds friendships, connections and rootedness to something bigger than oneself.
While definitions and frameworks of volunteering evolve, what remains consistent is finding ways to contribute. Methods of volunteerism and civic engagement may change in our workplaces and communities, and new approaches and solutions are being found to support volunteering in new and exciting ways.
Volunteering need not be massive or overwhelming—there are small acts we can take together that make a huge difference. For example, you might find ways to help an elderly or sick neighbour.
Or you might introduce yourself to the staff at a local charity and find small ways of offering your time, especially during December when many organizations are challenged to meet the increased need.
Small acts of participation through formal and informal service make huge impacts, and this investment of time and energy is needed now more than ever. Our individual acts weave together with that of other Canadians to create a stronger, more resilient, more connected Canada. We encourage you to take one small step toward volunteering and participating. There are opportunities to give your talent and energy in all sorts of ways; do your research, reflect and then reach out to your local volunteer centre, find a community organization that aligns with your passions, or take a look around your community and help where you can.