New Report Shows 1 in 4 Americans Volunteer

Washington, DC (December 16, 2013) – A new national study finds that millions of Americans make volunteering a priority, logging in 7.9 billion hours in 2012. The annual “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” research shows volunteering in the U.S. remains stable and strong across generations, with Gen Xers and parents leading the way.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation engaged TD employees and local volunteers to plant trees in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, which was hit hard by 2012 Superstorm Sandy.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation engaged TD employees and local volunteers to plant trees in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, which was hit hard by 2012 Superstorm Sandy.

The 2013 Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) report found that one in four adults (26.5%) 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. And 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 Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “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% 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%, respectively.

The full analysis and customizable data sets can be found at VolunteeringInAmerica.gov.

Source: New Federal Report Finds 1 in 4 Americans Volunteer,” Corporation for National & Community Service news bulletin (December 16, 2013).