Volunteering in America

Volunteering and Civic Life In America

Volunteering and Civic Life in America, an annual research report issued by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship, shows that volunteering in the U.S. remains a strong component of the fabric of our nation across generations, enriching both our communities and those who serve. Volunteering is a key component of civic life, along with charitable giving, community involvement, voting, and other activities.

Volunteering Remains Strong | 1 in 4 Americans volunteer (26.5%), enhancing opportunities for their neighbors and communities.  64.5 million Americans served 7.9 billion hours.

The report finds 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.

Americans’ commitment to volunteering spans across generations.  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. Volunteering among teenagers (ages 16-19) has trended positively over the past six years up nearly 3 percentage points since 2007.   Volunteers age 65 and over spent a median of 90 hours on volunteer activities in 2012, the highest among any age group, and far above the 50 median annual hours served by the general volunteer population.  Working mothers continue to volunteer at a significantly higher rate than the population as a whole.  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 without children (23.8 percent).

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment | Volunteers have higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers | 27% overall, 51% without a high school diploma and 55% living in rural areas.

In addition to improving the lives of neighbors and communities, volunteers can improve their own lives by gaining skills, experience, and contacts that can help be helpful in finding employment.  Our “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment” study found that volunteers have 27 percent higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.  This effect may be due to developing new skills and expanding personal networks.

Momentum is building around national service and its key 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 began by tutoring and mentoring youth, supporting veterans and military families, expanding economic opportunity, and rebuilding communities after natural disasters. AmeriCorps members – and the 4 million volunteers they mobilized last year  – continue to drive positive change in our country’s areas of greatest need. Earlier this year, President Obama announced the creation of the new Task Force on Expanding National Service to identify new ways the public and private sectors can expand national service as a strategy for tackling national priorities and create a pathway to opportunity for those who serve.

To find local volunteer opportunities in your area, visit Serve.gov.

National Service Blog

Tags: CNCS, AmeriCorps, SIFund, highlight
By Wendy Spencer
Tags: CNCS, National Service, Senior Corps, foster grandparents, Mayors Day of Recognition, mayors4service, highlight

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