Inspiring Innovation Surrounding a New Canadian Volunteer Landscape

  • by Michelle Turchanikova


Every day, we are re-shaping the way we support our communities during this pandemic. It is without a doubt that 2020 will be a memorable year full of changes around employee engagement, charitable investment, and of course – volunteering. Volunteering continues to be a deep-rooted tradition in Canada, and people strive to help each other and their communities to improve the quality of life in this country. In this post, we will be reviewing an insightful report pulled together by Volunteer Toronto. This report inspires us to keep our wheels turning as we reflect on the inspirational volunteer initiatives and stories in 2019-2020.

Volunteer Toronto is a charity that builds caring communities by connecting volunteers to the causes that need them. News, opportunities, and events are updated almost daily with what our communities need from us as volunteers. Companies leverage their information to keep employees inspired and up to date with how they can help – this includes both in-person and virtual volunteering, along with skilled-based volunteering and charities who need a little extra support during these difficult times.


Due to the pandemic, 43% of non-profits have laid off volunteer engagement staff or have reduced their hours, resulting in millions of volunteers dismissed from roles on the frontlines. As a result, 50% of pandemic response in Toronto is happening at the grassroots level. Whether you are a business, charity, government agency, or non-profit organization, we can all agree – it is now time to reflect and evolve.


Volunteer Toronto stepped up to collaborate with communities to better understand their immediate needs and future needs and put together tactics, support, and solutions to help drive impactful change. Acting quickly in March 2020, a Volunteer Response Team launched within 24 hours to assist with community needs. The team, reaching over 10,000 people and growing every day, continues to receive alerts with volunteer roles and opportunities which are localized to help with easy participation and sign-up opportunities.


In the spring of this year, Volunteer Toronto worked on building out sector forums for volunteers who work on the frontlines. This helped drive progressive discussions around barriers with volunteer participation. These forums continued throughout Summer 2020 and will likely play a big part in the future of volunteering as well.


This report covers many areas of inspirational impact and pioneering solutions. Through partnerships with companies and other charities, Volunteer Toronto stands as a leader in volunteerism. There is transparency, honesty, and practicality in their statistics, which can also motivate employers to better understand where their programs may help play a role as well.


As you continue to think about the future of community investment in your organization, a charity such as Volunteer Toronto can be a helpful partner in setting realistic goals and filling the gap in community needs. Each month, at least 30,000 people are visiting their website, looking for information on available roles, events, and content to further engage in volunteerism and giving back.  Over the last year, there were 9,000 youth engaged in programming, 989 potential board members trained, and over 12,000 people attended informational events.


These increasing numbers are clear indicators of the importance of volunteering in Canada. Amid an ongoing pandemic – volunteering is essential in our communities, and it is amazing to see how people are open to learning about how they can help. There is a volunteer spirit in Canada that lives in all of us, and there is no better time to work together, get creative, and innovate to keep this spirit alive.

Visit the report to dive deeper into their research and findings.

About Michelle Turchanikova

As a Corporate Social Responsibility Practitioner in Canada, Michelle Turchanikova is passionate in helping corporations explore the possibilities of giving back in purposeful and meaningful ways, through employee engagement and impactful story telling. With her recent completion in Inner Engineering, Michelle believes there is value in understanding and cultivating our inner purpose, vision and values, and aligning our authenticity to our careers to power our passion.