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Piggy bank with Canadian coinsiStockphoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The level of charitable giving in Canada remained steady through the uneven economic recovery, with about 84 per cent of the population donating to a charity or non-profit organization.

Almost 24 million Canadians made a financial donation in 2010, for a total of $10.6 billion, Statistics Canada said Wednesday. Both the percentage of the population donating and the total amount of donations were little changed from 2007, before the recession.

The average annual donation was $446 per donor in 2010, similar to three years earlier.

Those who gave the most were more likely to be older, have a higher household income and a formal education, or attend weekly religious services or meetings, the report said.

Donations vary considerably across geographic regions. The portion of the population who made a charitable donation was highest in the Atlantic provinces, while donors from the Western provinces gave higher amounts on average.

Charitable donors from Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia donated about $550 on average to a charity in 2010, among the highest in the country. Average donations were lowest in Quebec.

Almost half, or 47 per cent of the population, volunteered their time through a group or organization, a proportion that also held steady since 2007. Their near-2.1 billion hours volunteer hours is the equivalent of nearly 1.1 million full-time jobs. (The hours volunteered for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics represent about 0.7 per cent of the total).

Those who volunteered the most hours tended to be older, widowed and no longer in the workforce, the study said. They also tended to not have kids at home and to attend weekly religious services.

Volunteers from Nova Scotia devoted 207 hours, on average, to volunteer work in 2010, the highest average in Canada.

The report is based on data from the 2010 Canada survey of giving, volunteering and participating and is the fifth of a series of surveys that started in 1997. It is based on responses from more than 15,000 Canadians aged 15 and over who were asked about how they give and volunteer. The last time this survey was conducted was 2007.