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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

63 Million Americans Do it. Do You Do It Too?

What did nearly 63 million Americans do last year? They volunteered.

That sounds like a big number. But, even with many efforts underway to boost volunteerism, that's 2 million fewer than the prior year. In fact, the volunteerism rate fell to 25.4% - the lowest percentage since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data.

Here's how the figures stack up over time:

  • 2003: 63.8 million or 28.8%
  • 2004: 64.5 million or 28.8%
  • 2005: 65.4 million or 28.8%
  • 2006: 61.2 million or 26.7%
  • 2007: 60.8 million or 26.2%
  • 2008: 61.8 million or 26.4%
  • 2009: 63.4 million or 26.8%
  • 2010: 62.8 million or 26.3%
  • 2011: 64.3 million or 26.8%
  • 2012: 64.5 million or 26.5%
  • 2013: 62.6 million or 25.4%
While there are several theories on why volunteerism rates are declining, the gap between supply and demand appears to be a strong contender. Many nonprofits just don't have the capacity to manage volunteers. For example, VolunteerMatch reported that 11.6 million people visited its site last year. But there were less than 140,000 volunteer opportunities listed during that period. Additionally, LinkedIn for Good reports that 975,000 people have expressed interest in volunteering. But on the flip side, only 1,000 volunteer positions have been posted by nonprofits.

Aside from noting the declining rate in volunteerism, there were additional findings that came out of the Current Population Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which was based on information from 60,000 households). Those findings include:

  • Women volunteer more than men. This holds true across all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics.
  • 35- to 44-year-olds were most likely to volunteer (30.6 percent).
  • Volunteer rates were lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.5 percent).
  • 33% of volunteers reported the main type of organization that they volunteered for (most hours) as religious. 25.6% said educational or youth service related and 14.7% said social or community service organizations.
If you were among those 63 million Americans who volunteered last year or if you are thinking of joining them, then take a few minutes to review our Guide To Volunteering. Our tip sheet will help you pick a charity and assess how best you can help it achieve its mission.

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