British Columbia's Community and Volunteer Sector
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance, Province of British Columbia Pgs 2-3, BC Benefits Monthly Statistical Report Released June 1998, April 1998 Stats
British Columbia's community and volunteer organisations have long been a 'third sector' in our province's economy, although their contribution has been recognised much less than that of the public and private sectors. The community and volunteer sector includes organisations that are neither for-profit businesses, nor government.
The community and volunteer sector is responsible for providing many of the most highly-valued services in British Columbia communities, including health care services, community supports and arts and cultural services. It employs thousands of British Columbians and provides volunteer opportunities to thousands more. Increasingly, the community and volunteer sector is playing an important role in local economies, through employment and the provision of much-needed services.
There are more than 9,000 registered charities in BC, plus many more non-profit organisations that do not have charitable status. The sector plays a very significant role in British Columbia's economy. For example, even if large government-funded institutions in the sector such as hospitals and teaching institutions are not counted, the remaining 8,400-plus BC charities received $5.87 billion in revenue during 1994.
Across Canada, there are now more than 75,000 charities, and the non-profit sector receives $90 billion in revenue each year. The non-profit sector employed 1.32 million Canadians in 1993, which was nine per cent of the total labour force. These people received more than $40 billion in salaries and benefits. The potential for increased employment in the sector is significant.
Volunteer Canada estimates that there are currently close to six million volunteers in Canada. More than a quarter of all working age Canadians make a volunteer contribution, with women accounting for 56 per cent of Canadian volunteers. The average volunteer contributes 3.7 hours per week, or 191 hours per year. Nation-wide, these hours add up to a billion hours of service each year, with an unpaid value of $13 billion. It is estimated that annual volunteer labour contributions are the equivalent of eight per cent of Canada's gross domestic product.
Increasingly, the traditional view of volunteer work is broadening to include a wider range of activities and a broader cross-section of volunteers. The volunteer and community sector is affected by social and technological change as much as other sectors. Current trends in volunteerism in BC and across Canada include:
Funding of the community and volunteer sector is also a major issue, as decreasing government support in some jurisdictions has encouraged a broader view of potential funding sources. Some non-profit agencies continue to receive most of their income from government. These include libraries and museums, public foundations and community benefit and social service charities. Other organisations, including arts, cultural and recreation charities, get most of their revenue from earned income. Religious charities depend primarily on private giving. Corporate donations account for about eight per cent of fundraising revenues reported by charities in BC.
The restructuring of governments across Canada has resulted in increased responsibility being placed on the community and volunteer sector in most provinces. In some cases, the sector is now looked to as an alternative deliverer of traditional government social and human services.
The sector is increasingly recognising its own importance and the need to gain increased recognition of this by government, business and communities. The BC Council of Federations and Organisations was recently established to bring together major participants in our province's community and volunteer sector. The BC Council includes 30 provincial organisations representing between 300 and 350 community social service agencies across the province that receive contracts from the provincial government. Their mandate is to provide input into public policy and work together to improve efficiency and further the sector.
The Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance is actively involved with volunteers, including the more than 5,000 volunteers in 120 communities who deliver the Emergency Social Services program. These people ensure that local resources are in place to assist in an emergency, ranging from a localized crisis such as a house fire, to widespread disaster such as a flood, earthquake or major chemical spill.
The Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance has begun informal consultation with the community and volunteer sector to: