Research done recently points to the rise of Individual Social Responsibility or ISR. ISR is an integral part of peoples’ daily lives encompassing a broad range of activities beyond volunteering, including their environmental footprint, purchasing decisions, choice of employer, charitable donations, and vacation choices. ISR has been defined as “the continuing commitment to behave ethically and contribute to people’s development while improving the quality of life of other individuals, groups, teams, as well as society at large.” 44% of Canadians volunteer through organizations.
Outside of doing work for organizations, Canadians are also:
- Mobilizing outside of organizations: mounting public awareness and social advocacy campaigns, raising funds through digital channels, organizing events, and mobilizing people around issues that matter to them.
- Crowdfunding: crowdsourcing funds to pay for funerals, participate in a peace mission, or retrofit a van to make it accessible.
- Making informed decisions: about their consumption habits based on a company’s corporate social responsibility practices and making lifestyle changes to reflect their social and environmental concerns.
ISR combined with pressures on time in today’s society means community organizations need to be creative in the opportunities they make for allowing people to contribute. This could include micro-volunteering opportunities, which are quick activities with short commitments that are usually done quickly. Another example could be advocacy opportunities such as signing a petition or raising awareness through personal social media.
Some of these opportunities, particularly those using social media, may mean that some of the keenest supporters will never be fully known to their local Nonprofit organization. Organizations may then need to decide that traditional means of extending their relationships (e.g. turning a volunteer into a donor) or recognizing efforts (e.g. volunteering awards).
Canadians are making choices and taking actions every day to build a stronger, kinder Canada – making ethical purchases, engaging in causes they care about, and greening their daily commute. Volunteering and ISR, whether formal or informal, long- or short-term, recurring or one-off activities, build confidence, competence, connections and community.