Ontario’s Literacy Volunteers - A Profile

In 2005, Community Literacy Ontario conducted a survey of community literacy agencies and their volunteers in order to gain a clearer understanding of the contributions made by volunteers. The results of this research are contained in CLO’s resource Literacy Volunteers: Value Added.

A basic profile of literacy agencies and their volunteers is provided in the chart below. Comparative figures for volunteers in general are also included.

 

Literacy Volunteers in Ontario

Volunteers in General*

Average Number of Volunteers per Agency

57

 

Total Number of Volunteers in Ontario’s Community-based Literacy Agencies

5,985

 

Length of Time Served

3.5

 

Age of Volunteers

58% over age 50
2% under age 21

22% are over age 55
18% under age 24

Gender Ratio

78% women
22% men

54% women
46% men

Education Level of Volunteers

65% have a post secondary degree/diploma

53% have a post secondary degree/diploma

* based on data from the 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating

This comparison highlights some of the critical differences between the ‘typical’ literacy volunteer in Ontario and volunteers in general.

Three key differences are noted:

Literacy volunteers are older - 58% of volunteers in Ontario’s community literacy agencies are over the age of 50 and only 2% of literacy volunteers are under the age of 21. This is a substantially different profile than volunteers in general.

More women than men volunteer — 78% of literacy volunteers are women, and 22% are men. The 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating found that almost equal percentages of Canadian women and men volunteer (54% and 46% respectively).

Literacy Volunteers are well-educated — 65% of volunteers in Ontario’s community literacy agencies have at least a college or university degree, compared with 53% of volunteers in Canada generally.

Understanding the profile of current literacy volunteers can help agencies recruit new volunteers. Agencies with limited resources for recruitment may choose to focus their efforts on those groups identified in the profile as most likely to volunteer in their agency.

Conversely, agencies may try to expand their volunteer base by concentrating on reaching those groups of people underrepresented in the volunteer profile. Either way understanding the profile of literacy volunteers can help inform your recruiting choices.