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Volunteering in America Research Highlights – 2011


Local government’s greatest resource is the active participation of its community. Knowing volunteer trends and rates enable efficient community planning and allocation of government services. This report by the Corporation for National and Community Service is an analysis of  volunteerism in 2011 based on the latest data collected from the annual U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS).

Key Points

The overarching volunteer rate has declined slightly since 2010, but the same number of volunteer hours (8.1 billion) remained steady between 2010 and 2011. People are volunteering longer in number of hours served per individual, but volunteer retention is slightly down from 65.5 percent to 63.5 percent in 2010.

Other plan highlights include:

  1. Every generation has a “volunteer life cycle” which is similar between them. This includes high volunteerism in the teen years with a drop-off in early adulthood and old age. New research indicates a significant shift in Generation X and in Baby Boomers. Generation X is volunteering at a higher rate than other generations at 2.3 billion hours, which is especially notable for the dramatic swing (“an increase of 110 million hours since 2009” (page 1)) from their low participation rate throughout their teens and early twenties.  Baby Boomers are volunteering longer and later in life, marking a rise in volunteerism in older age segments
  2. Noting the ranking of your state and metropolitan area can help determine what is normative, what can be set as a goal, and what is a need area for local governments and planners. In 2011, Utah’s volunteer rate at 44.5 percent was number one for the nation. Rounding out the top five was South Dakota at 37.2 percent. For metropolitan areas, Minneapolis-St.Paul ranked first with a 37.1 percent volunteer rate.

How to Use

Now is the time to recruit Generation X and Baby Boomers to your cause. Time is money. Volunteers contributed an estimate $173 billion worth in time to their respective causes nationwide. Coming out of the Great Recession, local communities are learning the value of knowing their local volunteer rates, finding ways to boost them, and the tangible and intangible benefits that has on livability.

View full report: Volunteering in America Research Highlights – 2011 (PDF – 373KB)

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