Volunteering in America

Last week a federal report was released providing a wealth of information about volunteerism in America.  The report is based on data “collected through a supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) September Volunteer Supplement. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The executive summary of the 2010 data contains the following:

  • In 2010, the national volunteer rate was 26.3 percent, with 62.8 million volunteers donating approximately 8.1 billion hours of service. The dollar value of this service was nearly $173 billion . . .
  • Generation X, born between 1965 and 1981, has made great strides in volunteering; serving at a rate of 24.7 percent in 2002 compared to 29.2 percent 2010—a difference of 4.5 percentage points. Baby Boomers volunteered at a rate of 28.8 percent and Millennials at 21.2 percent.
  • Service also takes place informally when people work with neighbors to address or fix a community issue. In 2010, 8.1 percent of Americans volunteered informally, totaling approximately 19 million individuals.

So What?

Local churches and other religious nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers.  According to the data for the most recent three years, more people volunteer for religious groups than for any other type of group.  Interestingly, educational groups rank second.

  •  Does your congregation track volunteers? If so, have you noted the number of volunteers has increased, decreased or remained level the last few years?  What about the number of hours volunteered?
  • Are you surprised to learn that members of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981) now volunteer at a rate greater than the national average? Why or why not?


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