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Expanding the definition of volunteering

Strong civic engagement is key to creating flourishing cities of the future. How will you be part of the transformation?

 Image: Yuula Benivolski
Image: Yuula Benivolski

Published on April 09, 2018

People have an incredible power to shape their cities. Creating cities where we can all live, work, move, play and thrive starts with robust civic engagement.

Civic engagement is a process where people can become active participants in building and strengthening their communities. The level of engagement can range from being informed or consulted, to deeper engagement, where residents collaborate with organizations and decision-makers, and are empowered to take action.   

100In1Day volunteers.

Strong civic engagement, including volunteering, is a key component of creating the kind of city we want.

Volunteering is a unique type of civic engagement, one that Evergreen has fostered since our early days. According to the United Nations Volunteers, the power of volunteerism is rooted in its values of solidarity, reciprocity, social inclusion, social cohesion, empowerment and wellbeing.

But the definition of volunteering is expanding.

While reported volunteering rates are declining, informal volunteering, community organizing and social action are on the rise. Often when people give back in these ways they don’t consider themselves volunteers, but they are! 

Volunteers at Ravine Day in Toronto

Volunteering can catalyze broader civic engagement. Being an engaged citizen can spur people on to deepen their involvement through volunteering. 

By getting involved, residents are not only able to contribute in a meaningful way to making a difference in issues that matter to them, but they are able to ensure cities work for them.

Transformation in our cities starts with people: through their participation in creating and implementing solutions, sharing ideas to shape the future of cities, and giving their time and passion.

Through active participation, people are building connections, a sense of satisfaction and social cohesion. By taking action, they build skills, capacity and social capital. Working together, this makes for strong and healthy communities that thrive and grow.

Drop, Swap and Shop volunteers.

As the nation marks National Volunteer Week this month, Evergreen encourages all Canadians to get involved in making their cities better. How are you going to help shape your community and your city this year? 


Volunteer with Evergreen. 

Get involved in 100In1Day Canada, a platform for civic engagement and city transformation, on June 2.

Volunteer in your local community by finding a volunteer centre near you.