Despite Its Benefits, Fewer Americans Are Volunteering

Photo (cc) by USFS Region 5

Were you one of the nearly 63 million Americans who volunteered in 2013? If so, give yourself a pat on the back.

In addition to making you feel good, volunteering has both economic and community benefits. According to 24/7 Wall St., the 7.7 billion hours of volunteer work in 2013 had a monetary value of $173 billion.

Sadly, the percentage of Americans who volunteered dropped from its peak of 28.8 percent in 2005 to 25.4 percent in 2013. Sandy Scott, senior adviser at the Corporation for National and Community Service, explained to 24/7 Wall St. that volunteers are vital to many services and organizations:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our nonprofits and schools and shelters and neighborhood organization, hospitals, hotlines. They provide enormous social and economic value for our country.

Interestingly, though you may expect people who have more free time to volunteer, that’s usually not the case. Scott said the most typical volunteer is a busy, working mom.

Although volunteering increases your chances of getting hired for a job, Scott said it’s rare that you see an unemployed job seeker donate their time.

“If you’re unemployed and volunteering, you’re honing your job skills, you’re making contacts, you’re showing a can-do attitude, and you’re increasing your social capital, your skills and doing all the things you should be doing to help find a job,” Scott said.

Based on data from the CNCS, Utah puts the rest of the country to shame when it comes to volunteering. Utah residents lead the nation with both the highest percentage of volunteers and the highest number of hours (85 on average) donated per volunteer. These states also earned top spots on the volunteering list:

  1. Utah: 45.3 percent of residents volunteer.
  2. Wisconsin: 35.5 percent.
  3. Kansas: 35 percent.
  4. Minnesota: 34.9 percent.
  5. Idaho: 34.9 percent.

According to 24/7 Wall St., these are the states that volunteer the least:

  1. Louisiana: 16.7 percent of residents volunteer.
  2. New York: 18.8 percent.
  3. Florida: 19.3 percent.
  4. Nevada: 19.5 percent.
  5. Arkansas: 19.5 percent.

I love to volunteer. After I had children I cut back on some of my volunteer work, but I’ve continued to stay involved with my local United Way and county planning board.

Do you volunteer your time? What organizations or services do you help? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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