Volunteering Continues Upward Trend In Hours, Value

The number of volunteers in the United States continued to climb last year, with a total of 64.5 million Americans contributing almost 7.9 billion hours of their time.  More than one in four adults volunteered through a nonprofit organization.

The overall total exceeds last year’s 64.3 million volunteers while the volunteer rate of 26.5 percent dipped slightly, from 26.8 percent. The estimated value of the volunteer service is almost $175 billion, based on the estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour ($22.14 according to Independent Sector).

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) released the findings today of their annual study, “Volunteering and Civic Life in America.”

The annual study noted the following highlights from 2012:

  • Generate X (those born between 1965 and 1981) had the highest volunteer rate of any age group. The volunteer rate for Generation X has trended upward for the last 11 years, increasing more than 5 percent.
  • Americans 65 and older donated nearly two times as many hours per volunteer than the population as a whole: A median 90 volunteer hours last year, compared to 50 hours for the general population.
  • Volunteering among teenagers is up almost 3 percent since 2007.
  • Volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to a charity as non-volunteers, with almost 80 percent of volunteers having donated to charity compared with 40 percent of non-volunteers.
  • More than half of all citizens (50.7 percent) donated at least $25 to charity in 2012.

“Volunteering is a core American value. Americans who volunteer enrich our community and keep our nation strong,” Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, said “Helping others who are in need and working together to strengthen our communities is an important American tradition that helps make our nation so resilient,” she said. “Volunteering goes beyond helping other people: studies have shown that the volunteers themselves benefit, whether through increased job prospects, better health, or even better overall well-being.”

The top five states by volunteer rates (based on a three-year moving average from 2010-2012) were:

  • Utah, 43.8 percent
  • Minnesota, 37.7 percent
  • Idaho, 36.5 percent
  • Kansas, 36.4 percent
  • Iowa and Nebraska, 36 percent

The median volunteer rate among the 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., was 27.7 percent, Oklahoma.

The top metropolitan areas by volunteer rate last year were:

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, 36.7 percent
  • Rochester, N.Y., 35.1 percent
  • Milwaukee, Wisc., 33.6 percent
  • Seattle, Wash., 33.5 percent
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, 33 percent

The median rate among 51 cities studied was 27.2 percent, Boston, Mass.