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Americans Spend 50 Hours Per Year Volunteering

RSS XML FeedBackground Active Jun 16, 2006 to Jun 30, 2006

A federal report released this month by the Corporation for National and Community Service finds that in every state women volunteer at a higher rate than men, and women with children and women who work have higher volunteer rates than other women. The top volunteer activities by category are mentoring, tutoring, coaching and refereeing, fundraising, and collecting or serving food.  The study also found that of America’s 65.5 million adult volunteers, more serve through religious organizations than any other type of organization.

“Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings” is based upon the most statistically significant study of volunteering ever conducted in America – an annual survey of 60,000 households begun in 2002 by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the first study to give a detailed breakdown of America’s volunteering habits and patterns by state and region. The full report, including highlights, state-by-state rankings, profiles of volunteering in each region and state, statistical tables, and technical notes, is available at

On a national level, 65.4 million or 28.8 percent of American adults volunteered in 2005, an increase of nearly 6 million volunteers since 2002. American volunteers spent a median of 50 hours per year volunteering, and gave a total of 8.2 billion hours of volunteer service in 2005. Using Independent Sector’s estimate of the dollar value of a volunteer’s time, volunteering in America equated to a value of $147.6 billion dollars in 2005. The typical American volunteer is a white female who gives 50 hours per year volunteering through a religious organization as a tutor, mentor, coach, or referee.

Among key findings, the study reveals that:

  • Females volunteer at significantly higher rates than do males in every state; nationwide, women with children under age 18 volunteer at a significantly higher rate (39.9%) than do women without young children (29%), and women who work volunteer at a significantly higher rate (36.1%) than women who do not work (27.2%).
  • The greatest percentage of volunteers serve primarily through religious organizations (34.8%).
  • The highest regional volunteer rate last year was in the Midwest, at 33.3%.
  • The largest growth in volunteering since 2002 has come from the South (2.4 million) and the West (2 million). 
  • The top volunteer activities by category are mentoring, tutoring, coaching, and refereeing (35%), fundraising (29.7%) and collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food (26.3%).
  • Adult volunteering generally follows a life cycle, with people age 35-54 volunteering at the highest rate, and rates subsequently declining as people age, particularly for individuals over 65.

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