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Connecting and Giving: Report on How Mid-Life and Older Americans Spend Their Time, Make Connections, and Build Communities (2010)


Civic engagement is becoming more personal and individual. Mid-life and older Americans are less likely to join or get involved with organizations. This study released by AARP focuses on the current civic involvement and volunteer rates across generations in the U.S. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents reported volunteering on their own instead of with an organization in 2009, compared to 34 percent in 2003.

Key Points

The report focuses on four main aspects of volunteering: 1) how people spend their non-working time, 2) what organizations they are a part of, 3) what civic activities they spend time on, and  4) the ways they help others by volunteering and giving. It presents informational survey findings but does not extensively assess the barriers and incentives associated with these volunteer activities. The research findings are based on 1,475 interviews with Baby Boomers, Silent, and Greatest Generation members, and 500 from members of Generation X for comparison.

Other report highlights include:

  • Volunteering is still very popular for AARP members. Fifty-three percent of members say they have volunteered through an organization in the past year and spent an average of 6-10 hours per month volunteering.
  • Age correlates with volunteering. Generation X has the highest volunteer rates (77.5 percent) while the Greatest Generation has the lowest (71.6 percent).
  • Volunteers are mainly motivated to volunteer because of the feeling of personal responsibility to help others in need (68 percent of respondents). Volunteers mostly participate in activities that serve the basic needs of those that they help (i.e., helping persons with disabilities, collecting clothing, fundraising money for a cause, and serving food).

How to Use

The report provides a detailed summary of the survey conducted by AARP to understand better volunteer rates and the level of civic engagement across different generations in the U.S. Local officials can use this report as a reference to gain an understanding of volunteer trends among different age groups in their communities. Though the information presented does not offer much assessment, officials can analyze the survey findings to formulate plans to increase community involvement in social activities and volunteer programs.

View full report: Connecting and Giving: How Mid-Life and Older Americans Spend Their Time, Make Connections and Build Commuties – 2010 (PDF – 345KB)

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