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The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) has released a new paper, Volunteers and Decent Work: What’s the connection, which covers what organizations can do to preserve the spirit of volunteering, while closing the door on exploitation of unpaid labour.
From the Executive Summary:
“Volunteers play a key role in the nonprofit sector: for example, half of all organizations in Ontario are volunteer-operated, with no paid staff. Other nonprofits achieve their mission through a mix of paid staff, students, interns, and volunteers. The reliance on volunteers is a key strength of the sector: it benefits organizations, volunteers, and society by building the capacity of nonprofits; enables volunteers to connect with others and contribute to building community; and promotes civic engagement to build strong and connected communities.
“At the same time, however, there have long been concerns (particularly during times of austerity) that volunteer labour might somehow displace nonprofit jobs to help them meet demand for programs and services when budgets are tight. A 2007 survey of 661 nonprofits across Canada found that 25.5 per cent of organizations agreed with the statement that “some activities carried out by volunteers today were performed by paid staff in the past.”4 According to another study in 2014, 9.2 per cent of the volunteers surveyed reported that they replaced a paid staff member in the organization.5 The replacement of paid staff by volunteers occurred mainly to help the organizations cope in times of need.”
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