Volunteers and Donors: Facts & Figures

The Long Read

What festivals get from their volunteers seems fairly obvious – a sudden influx of enthusiastic people who take on a wide variety of roles, from handing out brochures to conducting audience research, cleaning the festival site and pretty much anything else they get asked to do. For a large festival, that’s hundreds of hours of work, sometimes highly skilled.

But what do volunteers get out of donating their time? What motivates them, what makes them feel truly rewarded? And would it be a very good or a very bad idea to ask them to contribute also financially to the organization that they support with their donated skills and times?

Hill Stratégies, an arts research consultancy based in Hamilton, Ontario, has recently published their updated version of  Volunteers and Donors in Arts and Culture Organizations in Canada in 2010. It’s the 40th report in their  Statistical Insights on the Arts series and it is based on statistics queried from Statistics Canada’s 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP), a survey of more than 15,000 Canadians 15 or older.

It’s full of data on volunteer and donors in the arts, and also gives comparisons with volunteers in other nonprofit sectors.  As such, it’s a practical tool that can help arts organizations to understand the wider context and to make decisions, for example on their volunteer benefit structure or recruitment techniques.

Here are some snippets from the report about volunteers:

  • Arts and culture volunteers tend to stay with the same organization for a relatively long period of time: 42% of arts and culture volunteers were with the same organization for at least five years.
  • The top 10% of arts and culture volunteers (i.e., those who volunteered at least 286 hours) contributed 61% of total volunteer hours in arts and culture organizations. (…) The top 25% (who volunteered at least 110 hours) contributed 80% of total volunteer hours in arts and culture organizations.

A few more about individual donors:

  • The $108 million donated to arts and culture organizations represents, on average, $141 per donor.
  • The top 25% of donors, who contributed at least $125, accounted for 75% of total donations.

And about both:

  • While there are very similar numbers of arts and culture volunteers (764,000) and donors (760,000), there are relatively few people who do both. Roughly 87,000 people both volunteered and donated in arts and culture organizations in 2010.

The full report is available from Hill Stratégies website.

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