National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP)

Detailed information for 2000





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to collect data regarding unpaid volunteer activities, charitable giving and civic participation. The results will help build a better understanding of these activities which can in turn be used to help develop programs and services.

Data release - August 17, 2001


The National Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP) is the result of a partnership of federal government departments and voluntary sector organizations that includes the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Statistics Canada and Volunteer Canada. This survey is an important source of information on Canadian contributory behaviour, including giving, volunteering and participating.

The objectives of the NSGVP are threefold:

1) to collect national data to fill a void of information about individual contributory behaviours including volunteering, charitable giving and civic participation;
2) to provide reliable and timely data to the System of National Accounts; and
3) to inform both the public and voluntary sectors in policy and program decisions that relate to the charitable and volunteer sector.

Collection period: The collection period is the Labour Force Survey (LFS) interview week, usually the third week of the month.


  • Labour
  • Society and community
  • Unpaid work
  • Volunteering and donating

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The survey was administered to a sub-sample of the dwellings in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample, and therefore its sample design is closely tied to that of the LFS.

The LFS is a monthly household survey whose sample of individuals is representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. These groups together represent an exclusion of approximately 2% of the population aged 15 or over.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was extensively tested using focus groups.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

This survey uses the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample: 5 of 6 rotation groups, approximately 44,000 households. For the NSGVP, the coverage of the LFS was set at the household level. Unlike the LFS where information is collected for all eligible household members, the NSGVP only collected information from one pre-selected household member and proxy responses were not permitted.

The LFS uses a probability sample that is based on a stratified multi-stage design. Each province is divided into large geographic stratum. The first stage of sampling consists of selecting smaller geographic areas, called clusters, from within each stratum. The second stage of sampling consists of selecting dwellings from within each selected cluster.

The LFS uses a rotating panel sample design so that selected dwellings remain in the LFS sample for six consecutive months. Each month about 1/6th of the LFS sampled dwellings are in their first month of the survey, 1/6th are in their second month of the survey, and so on. One feature of the LFS sample design is that each of the six rotation groups can be used as a representative sample by itself.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2000-10-15 to 2000-12-08

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The NSGVP was administered to one randomly selected individual per household. The random selection was carried out after the Labour Force Survey (LFS) survey was completed.

Upon completion of the LFS interview, the interviewer asked to speak to the randomly selected person for the NSGVP. If the selected person was not available, the interviewer arranged for a convenient time to phone back. Proxy response was not allowed, hence the collection period was extended until December to allow the interviewers time to contact the preselected individuals.

Further sub-sampling was carried out on respondents who were not volunteers. After completion of the first set of NSGVP questions relating to volunteer activities, respondents who were not volunteers had a 65% chance of being dropped from the survey which was determined by a pre-programmed random selection process. Consequently, 13,449 respondents who were not volunteers were screened out of the survey. While these respondents were used in calculating the response rates, they are not included in the final data file.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

The first stage of survey processing undertaken at head office was the replacement of any "out-of-range" values on the data file with blanks. This process was designed to make further editing easier.

The first type of error treated was errors in questionnaire flow, where questions which did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore not have been answered) were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated involved a lack of information in questions which should have been answered. For this type of error, a non-response or "not-stated" code was assigned to the item except for certain cases where an imputation process was used to derive a value.


All imputations involved donors that were selected using a score function. For each item non-response or partial non-response records (also called recipient records), we compared certain characteristics to characteristics from all the donors. When the characteristics were the same between a donor and the recipient, a value was added to the score of that donor. The donor with the highest score was deemed the "closest" donor and was chosen to fill in missing pieces of information of the non-respondents. If there was more than one donor with the highest score, a random selection occurred. The pool of donors was made up in such a way that the imputed value assigned to the recipient, in conjunction with other non-imputed items from the recipient would still pass the edits.


The principles behind the calculation of the weights for the NSGVP are identical to those for the Labour Force Survey (LFS). However, further adjustments are made to the LFS weights in order to derive a final weight for the individual records on the NSGVP microdata file.

The first adjustment is for the use of a five-sixth sub-sample, instead of the full LFS sample. The next adjustment is to account for the random selection of one respondent from the selected household. There is an adjustment to account for the additional non-response to the supplementary survey i.e., non-response to the National NSGVP for individuals who did respond to the LFS or for which previous month's LFS data was brought forward. We then have an adjustment to account for the sub-sample of non-volunteers records. Another adjustment deals with outlier records and a final adjustment is done to match the Census projections for independent province-sex-age groups and census metropolitan area (CMA) counts (in a calibration exercise).

The resulting weight (FINWGHT) is the final weight which appears on the NSGVP microdata file.

Quality evaluation

Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures included the use of highly skilled interviewers, extensive training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and questionnaire, observation of interviewers to detect problems of questionnaire design or misunderstanding of instructions, procedures to ensure that data capture errors were minimized and coding and edit quality checks to verify the processing logic.

Interviewer training consisted of reading the NSGVP Procedures Manual, Interviewers' Manual, practicing with the NSGVP training cases on the laptop computer, and discussing any questions with senior interviewers before the start of the survey. A description of the background and objectives of the survey was provided, as well as a glossary of terms and a set of questions and answers.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

It should be noted that 'Public Use' microdata files differ in a number of important respects from the survey 'master' files held by Statistics Canada. These differences are the result of actions taken to protect the anonymity of individual survey respondents. Users requiring access to information excluded from the microdata files may purchase custom tabulations. Estimates generated will be released to the user, subject to meeting the guidelines for analysis and release outlined in Section 9 of the User Guide.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. These errors can be broken down into two major types: non-sampling and sampling.

Non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. The response rate for the 2000 NSGVP was 70.0%.

The basis for measuring the potential size of sampling errors is the standard error of the estimates derived from survey results. Because of the large variety of estimates that can be produced from a survey, the standard error of an estimate is usually expressed relative to the estimate to which it pertains. This resulting measure, known as the coefficient of variation (CV) of an estimate, is obtained by dividing the standard error of the estimate by the estimate itself and is expressed as a percentage of the estimate.

Please refer to Chapter 8 (Data Quality) of the User Guide for detailed information.


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