Volunteerism - Ontario Nonprofit Network



ONN’s goal is to preserve and grow the spirit of volunteerism while closing the door on exploitation of unpaid labour.
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It’s time for volunteerism to evolve and once again reflect the vibrancy of our communities

Volunteerism plays an important part in building vibrant communities as it enhances social connections, encourages civic engagement and fosters a sense of belonging. The vibrancy of communities and the sustainability of nonprofits depend on volunteers: half of the nonprofit sector is entirely volunteer-run while the other half relies on a mix of paid staff, students, interns and volunteers to achieve their missions. 

Volunteers build nonprofit capacity and, in turn, nonprofits provide volunteers the opportunity to connect with others, gain valuable skills and experiences, and contribute to community building. 

However, volunteerism is rapidly changing and evolving. As a sector, it is imperative to preserve and grow the spirit of volunteering while closing the door on exploitation of unpaid labour that undermines decent work in the nonprofit sector. 

Public policy that puts forth a refreshed province-wide volunteerism strategy, and makes volunteering easier for all can reignite volunteerism.

Key areas of focus for refreshed volunteerism 

Volunteerism is rapidly changing. ONN’s recent surveys showed that nonprofits are experiencing a myriad of issues related to volunteerism, from the loss of volunteers, difficulty recruiting new volunteers, and difficulty convincing previous volunteers to return, to volunteers retiring and difficulty attracting youth volunteers. At the same time, measures such as police record check requirements add additional barriers to volunteering.

We advocate for: 

A modernized sector-wide, province-wide volunteer strategy that meets the evolving needs of both volunteers and organizations.

Barrier-free police record checks that eliminate fees for level three (vulnerable sector) checks, reduce lengthy processing timelines, and provide better clarification regarding the appropriate use of Criminal Record Checks. 

Ways nonprofits can take action to bolster volunteerism

  • Connect with us if you are working on a volunteerism policy issue or if one in this focus area bubbles up for you and your networks. Put it in on our radar to engage in potential collective advocacy efforts.
  • Access and share our paper, Volunteers and Decent work
  • Explore courses on volunteer engagement and community building offered through the Volunteer Lab.
  • Amplify our policy brief on ways to improve Police Record Checks.

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