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June 05, 2021

Canadians give back to their community

Count me in.

I worked for many years for a non-profit association that relied solely on its volunteers.

Just witnessing the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteer board of directors and volunteers who worked diligently organizing business and social events was inspiring.

And volunteerism is not only rewarding but it is also contagious. In fact, many people who attended the events often asked how they could volunteer to help out as well.

This group of individuals held full-time jobs yet gave so willingly and selflessly of their time and talents.

According to a new study by BMO Financial Group, 70 per cent of Canadians say they volunteered for a charitable organization in the past year.

And 90 per cent feel it is important that their place of employment encourages volunteering however, only 30 per cent say their employer has a program in place.

Eric Tripp, President, BMO Capital Markets, says, "The benefits associated with volunteering include helping those in need and achieving a sense of satisfaction.

"Helping out with a charity or community organization provides a unique opportunity to help even the odds and improve the lives of others."

So what compels people to volunteer?

The study revealed that the top reason most Canadians volunteer is the desire to give back to the community (68 per cent). Other reasons people volunteer include feeling a sense of duty (38 per cent); a chance to meet people (35 per cent); it helps reduce stress (33 per cent); and it's a good professional experience (24 per cent).

The top areas people support by volunteering include local community programs (27 per cent); children's charities (19 per cent); health programs and disease research (17 per cent); and poverty (11 per cent).

The study also found that 80 per cent of Canadians under the age of 35 have volunteered in the past 12 months.

Even in high school, a part of many students' curriculum is community service, which encourages them to volunteer in their community and at the same time gain valuable life and work experience.

Tripp adds, "Giving back, whether through volunteering or philanthropy, is everyone's duty to make society work better. We shouldn't think of it as an optional action, we should think of it as another item on our to-do list as citizens."

I like that list.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

Do you volunteer in your community? Do you feel volunteering is important?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...