New Federal Report Finds 1 in 4 Americans Volunteer
Americans Volunteered 7.9 Billion Hours in 2012;
Gen Xers and Parents Lead the Way
Washington, D.C. — A new national study released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) shows that millions of Americans make volunteering a priority in their lives. The annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America research shows that volunteering in the U.S. remains stable and strong across generations.
“Volunteering is a core American value. Americans who volunteer enrich our communities and keep our nation strong,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “As citizens, there are so many ways we can make a difference for those who are in need, during this holiday season and throughout the entire year.”
This year’s report found that one in four adults (26.5 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2012, demonstrating that volunteering remains an important activity for millions of Americans. Altogether, 64.5 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.9 billion hours last year. The estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $175 billion, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.
The research shows that Americans’ commitment to volunteering spans generations. Key highlights of the report include:
- The volunteer rate of Generation Xers has trended upward over the past 11 years, increasing nearly 5.5 percentage points, and Generation X has the highest volunteer rate of any age group.
- Older Americans (ages 65 and older) donated nearly twice as many hours per volunteer than the population as a whole, with a median of 90 volunteer hours in 2012 compared to 50 hours for the general population.
- Volunteering has trended upward among teenagers (ages 16-19) over the past six years, up nearly 3 percentage points since 2007.
- Working mothers continue to volunteer at a significantly higher rate than the population as a whole and people who do not live with children under 18 (38.5 percent compared to 26.5 percent and 23.8 percent, respectively).
- The volunteer rate of parents with children under age 18 (33.5 percent) remained higher than the population as a whole (26.5 percent) and for persons who do not live with under 18 (23.8 percent).
- Volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Eight in ten (79.2%) volunteers donated to charity, compared to four in ten (40.4%) non-volunteers. Overall, half of all citizens (50.7%) donated at least $25 to charity in 2012.
“Volunteering is a critical component of civic life,” said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of NCoC. “When people are involved in their communities through service, giving, political involvement, and other civic actions, our country is stronger and more prosperous.”
“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,” said Spencer. “But 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 research comes on the heels of the “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment” study released by CNCS over the summer, which found that volunteers have 27 percent higher odds of finding a job while out of work than non-volunteers. Among rural volunteers and volunteers without a high school diploma, the likelihood increases to 55 and 51 percent, respectively.
As more Americans volunteer, momentum continues to build around national service and its important role in addressing critical local issues. This year marks the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, celebrating more than 800,000 members who have served our country since the program’s inception. In 2012, AmeriCorps members recruited and managed more than four million volunteers.
CNCS’ more than 360,000 Senior Corps volunteers are also helping millions of Americans find economic empowerment by mentoring and tutoring youth, helping veterans transition into civilian life, and conducting job training to unemployed individuals.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), an independent federal agency, plays a vital role in supporting the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility and is a leading grantmaker in support of service and volunteering. Through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs and initiatives, CNCS provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and address critical needs. To learn more, visit NationalService.gov.
The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a dynamic, non-partisan nonprofit working at the forefront of our nation’s civic life. NCoC was chartered by Congress in 1953 to harness the patriotic energy and national civic involvement surrounding World War II, and we’ve been invigorated by this charge ever since. Through our events, research, and reports, NCoC expands our nation’s contemporary understanding of what it means to be a citizen. We seek new ideas and approaches for creating greater civic health and vitality throughout the United States. To learn more, visit NCoC.net.
Background on the Research
The data for this report was collected through the Current Population Survey (CPS): the Volunteer Supplement. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The supplement collects data on the volunteering of adults age 16 and older. Volunteers are considered individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization at any point during the 12-month period (from September 1st of the prior year through the survey week in September of the survey year).