Annual volunteer hours valued at $167 billion

Written on Dec 12, 2018

The number of Americans who volunteered in 2018 jumped by almost one-quarter compared to two years ago and the volunteer rate eclipsed 30% of adults for the first time since data has been collected.

Volunteering in America 2018, a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), estimates that 77.3 million people volunteered in 2017, a 23% increase compared to the 62.6 million volunteers in 2015, the last time the report was issued.

Since the previous report, the overall volunteer rate increased by more than 6%. Based on Independent Sector’s 2017 estimate of $24.14 for the average value of a volunteer hour, the estimated value of volunteer service for the 6.9 billion volunteer hours was nearly $167 billion.

The CNCS data was released the same week as a study by the Do Good Institute chronicled the decline of the volunteer rate over the past 15 years.

The jump in the volunteer rate in 2017 was unprecedented in national statistics on the volunteer rate. Researchers are still trying to determine why there was such a big change between 2015 and 2017.

The Do Good Institute released its own study, chronicling the decline in volunteers and volunteer rates over the past decade or more.

It used historical data from CNCS studies on volunteering. The national volunteer rate bottomed out at a 15-year low of 24.9% in 2015. It reached a historical peak of 28.8% from 2003 to 2005 before its first significant decline in 2006, falling to 26.7%.

Thirty-one states experienced “significant declines” in volunteering between 2004 and 2015 while not one state saw an increase in volunteering over that time.

As part of a revised survey and process, CNCS data now will be released every two years. The new report combined the volunteer and civic supplements, which previously were done separately, with volunteer done every year and civic done every.

Baby Boomers still constitute the largest demographic as far as sheer number of volunteers but with the next two youngest demographics, Generation X and Millennials, close behind.

By volunteer rate, however, Generation X has the highest percentage of volunteers, but it was Millennials who saw their volunteer rate jump by more than 6% since the last report.

The volunteer rate among females was 33.8% compared with 26.5% for males. There were 44.614 million female volunteers, about 57% of the overall total. They contributed 3.9 billion hours of service, with an estimated total value of $94.5 billion.

There were 32.77 million male volunteers, about 42% of the total, who contributed about 3 billion hours of service for an estimate value of $72.4 billion.

Volunteers donated to charity at twice the rate of non-volunteers. More than half of all citizens (52.2%) donated to charity last year.

Parents volunteer at rates nearly 48% higher than non-parents, at 39.9% and totaling more than 26 million volunteers. Working mothers give more time than any other demographic, with a volunteer rate of 46.7%.

Millions more Americans are supporting friends and family (43.1%) and doing favors for their neighbors (51.4%), suggesting that many are engaged in acts of “informal volunteering,” according to CNCS.

Americans most frequently gave their time to religious groups, 32%, and more than a quarter (25.7%) volunteered most often with sports or arts groups; another one in five supported education or youth service groups.

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