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New study results: Volunteering continues to rise in momentum and impact

Volunteers pay it forward by preparing bags of groceries for those in need
Volunteers pay it forward by preparing bags of groceries for those in need
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On February 24, 2014, The Non Profit Times reported on the results of a new study which examines the continuing upward trend for national volunteerism with promising results. According to the article, 'more than one in four adults volunteered through nonprofit organizations, with a total of 64.5 million Americans contributing almost 7.9 billion hours of their time'. The study was conducted by The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC). The study findings, "Volunteering and Civic Life in America", released the results yesterday.

Although the volunteer rate of 26.5 was slightly lower than the 2012 figure of 26.8, the study findings show an overall increase of 64.3 volunteers. According to the article, 'the estimated value of the volunteer service is almost $175 billion, based on the estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour ($22.14 according to Independent Sector)

Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, said, "Volunteering is a core American value. Americans who volunteer enrich our community and keep our nation strong. 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. Volunteering goes beyond helping people: studies have shown that the volunteers themselves benefit, whether through increased job prospects, better health or even better overall well-being."

According to the article, the top five states by volunteer rates (based on a three-year moving average from 2010-2012) were Utah at 43.8 percent, Minnesota at 37.7 percent, Idaho at 36.5 percent, Kansas at 36.4 percent and Iowa and Nebraska, both coming in at 36 percent. The top metropolitan areas by volunteer rate last year were Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota at 36.7 percent, Rochester, New York at 35.1 percent, Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 33.6 percent, Seattle, Washington at 33.5 percent and Salt Lake City, Utah at 33 percent. Fifty one cities were studied, concluding a median volunteer rate of 27.3 percent.

The study findings include some interesting highlights from 2012 regarding not only who makes up the American volunteer force, but how the act of volunteering impacts involvement in monetary charitable donations. Individuals over the age of 65 volunteered nearly two times as many hours per volunteer than the overall population. The rate of volunteerism among teenagers has increased close to 3 percent since 2007. Median volunteering hours have increased from 50 hours to 90- hours and individuals born between 1965 and 1981, Generation X, had 'the highest volunteer rate of any age group.'

According to the article, 'volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers, with almost 80 percent of volunteers having donated to charity compared with 40 percent of non-volunteers. More than half of all citizens (50.7 percent) donated at least $25 to charity in 2012.'

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