When unemployment rises does it really create a pool of helping hands?

Understanding the effects of unemployment on volunteering

What’s Up.

It’s National Volunteer Week in Canada as we celebrate the charitable time and effort given by millions of Canadians across the country - 12.7 million volunteers in fact.

Broken Down.

One of the potential positives of an economic downturn is the creation of a new and bigger pool of volunteers. And we all know that many organizations are always looking for people to help out.

In Calgary, a gutting took place over the past two years in the oilpatch sending thousands to the unemployment ranks. Employment in the Calgary region peaked at 827,200 in May 2015 and dipped to a low of 794,700 in June 2016. In March 2017 it had risen back up to 820,100, however unemployment was still at 9.3% according to Statistics Canada.

Many have sought volunteer opportunities because of the additional time on their hands. Plus, we all know it’s a great resume booster.

But there’s a catch.

“When the oilpatch isn’t thriving there’s an increased amount of demand for services in the voluntary sector while concurrently having a reduction of funds. Having a healthy, thriving oilpatch actually has the impact of having less people requiring social service type organizations and more funding available for different initiatives,” says Jeff D’Silva, of Propellus, the Volunteer and Capacity Building Centre of Calgary.

Yes, there are more volunteers available today but staffing to actually accommodate and manage those volunteers is difficult. It’s a domino effect. A struggling economy leads to oilpatch layoffs which leads to less funding of non-profits which leads to those organizations also reducing staff.

When unemployment rises does it really create a pool of extra volunteers in a community? Who knew a thriving Alberta oilpatch is critical to a thriving bunch of hands.