Who volunteers and why do these individuals give up their free time to volunteer? According to Statistics Canada, the majority of volunteers come from those that are under 50 years old. The largest number of volunteers comes from the 15-to-24 age bracket at 58 percent. The lowest percentage of volunteers come from those that are 65 years and older. The main reason behind the high percentage of those under 50 volunteering the most, comes from youth and their community service commitments and resume building. At the opposite end of the spectrum, poor health was attributed to the lower percentage of those over 50.
Marital status also played a part in the volunteering statistics. Single people volunteer the most because of their availability. The lowest percentage group were windows. Most widows are older and as previously mentioned the lowest age brackets are those over 50 years old.
When analyzing income and volunteering, the higher earners are volunteering more with the largest group of volunteers coming from those that earn $100,000 or more. The lowest group to contribute to the volunteering sector are individuals that earn less than $20,000.
Volunteering can also be used as method to meet the daily physical fitness requirements. In a study that compared those that did volunteer with those that did not volunteer, research indicated that those that did volunteer were 1.8 times more likely to meet the daily physical fitness requirements. Even better were those individuals that volunteered with something that had to do with the environment. These individuals were 2.6 times more likely to meet the dial physical fitness requirements (Librett, Yore, Buchner, and Schmid, 2005).
According to Twynam, Farrell & Johnston in 2003 volunteering motivational factors can be divided into four categories solidary, purposive, commitment and external traditions. Solidary volunteers are motivated by desire for social interaction and networking potential. Purposive volunteers volunteer to make themselves useful and to be contributing members of society. Commitment motivated volunteers feel an external expectation from a club or society to volunteer as well as a commitment to that organization. Finally individuals motivated by external traditions feel pressure from family and other external sources to volunteer. These four motivational factors are comparable to the volunteer continuum (obliges, altruistic career volunteers, self-interested, and role dependents) that Twynam et al alluded to in their article.
Librett, J., Yore, M., Buchner, D., & Schmid, T. (2005). Take pride in america’s health: Volunteering as a gateway to physical activity. American Journal of Health Education, 36(1), 8-13.
Twynam, G. D., Farrell, J. M., & Johnston, M.E. (2003). Leisure and volunteer motivation at a special sporting event, Leisure/Loisir, 27(3-4): 363-377.