Episode 11: Volunteer Rates + The Philanthropic Closet

Part 1: Robert Grimm & Nathan Dietz

Where are America’s volunteers? That’s literally the question posed, and answered, by a new study from the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy: “Where Are America’s Volunteers? A Look At America’s Widespread Decline in Volunteering in Cities and States.”

Robert Grimm, director of the Do Good Institute, and Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar, examine volunteer rates from 2002 to 2015, down to a state, county and metro level. They found declining numbers nationwide, including a drop in volunteering rates across 31 states, including historically volunteer-rich states like Minnesota and Utah. Not one state saw an increase in the volunteer rate.

Rural and suburban areas, which historically have higher levels of social capital than urban areas, saw the biggest declines, down about 5 percent between 2004 and 2015. Volunteer rates tended to drop in metropolitan areas with fewer places to volunteer, in places where people may be less likely to know their neighbors, and in places where there is more economic distress.

Part 2: Lyle Matthew Kan

One out of 10 LGBTQ people said they have left their job at a nonprofit due to an environment that was “not very accepting.” As many as one-third said they were depressed at work because of an unwelcoming work environment.

Lyle Matthew Kan is director of research and communications at Funders for LGBTQ Issues. He discusses  “The Philanthropic Closet: LGBTQ People in Philanthropy,” their inaugural Diversity Among Philanthropy Professionals (DAPP) survey, conducted with support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, in collaboration with SMU DataArts.

The survey found that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people account for more than 16 percent of those on staff or boards of participating foundations but the majority of those working in philanthropy are “in the closet,” meaning they have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity to most work colleagues. By comparison, 54 percent of LGBTQ people working the corporate sector are “out.”

Multiple research efforts have confirmed that “out” LGBTQ employees enjoy greater job satisfaction, stronger job commitment, better health outcomes, and higher productivity when compared to “closeted” LGBTQ employees, according to the survey.