As we approach National Volunteer Week, those of us working in the not-for-profit sector can’t help but reflect on and appreciate the crucial role volunteers play in our organizations.    

In Canada alone, we have over 24 million volunteers dedicating over five billion hours to various causes each year, a number of hours equivalent to over 2.5 million full-time year-round jobs (Statistics Canada).

At HealthPartners, our mission is furthered by over 70 dedicated volunteers who serve on our Board, committees, and who bravely share their health journeys with thousands of employees in workplaces across Canada annually. Their voices, articulating personal experiences and the transformative impact health charities, are at the heart of our organization’s purpose, to create a healthier Canada.

Health charities in Canada can attribute a great deal of their success to volunteers. Most of these organizations were founded by concerned citizens who graciously volunteered their time to make a difference. For example, The Canadian Lung Association, one of the oldest health charities in Canada was formed in 1900 by a dedicated band of citizens in the fight against tuberculosis.  In 1948, Evelyn Opal, a Montrealer diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, formed what is now MS Canada. These volunteer pioneers have laid the groundwork for some of the world’s most impactful health charities, driving progress in awareness, research, and advocacy for chronic diseases and major illnesses.

Volunteering dynamics have changed significantly in Canada over the years and with that, how we engage with volunteers must continue to evolve. Insights recently shared from Volunteer Toronto shed light on significant differences in volunteer motivations, particularly across demographics. Generation Z volunteers, for instance, are motivated differently from Baby Boomers, reflecting the shifting landscape as population demographics change.

On this National Volunteer Week, it is more important than ever that as charitable organizations, we provide the resources and tools to help our volunteers thrive, so they may continue to contribute in ways meaningful to them.

Thank you to our volunteers, and the volunteers that assist our 17 national health charities for being part of our collective and continuing the long history of creating a healthier Canada.