July 28, 2008
The big give: Surprising stats about U.S. volunteers
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported yesterday that 26 percent of Americans age 16 or older volunteered for a non-profit organization in 2007. What's more, 36 percent of volunteers donated at least 100 hours of their time last year, the highest rate since 2002. (These stats courtesy of a new study by the Corporation for National and Community Service.)
Curiously, the study also found that you're more likely to volunteer if:
- You live in Seattle or Portland. Both ranked in the top five big cities with the most volunteers. (Minneapolis-St. Paul was number one.)
- You live in a college town (the more educated you are, the more you volunteer, the notion goes).
- You live in Utah (44 percent of the state volunteers -- the highest rate in the nation).
- You're a woman (29 percent of U.S. women volunteered last year; 23 percent of men did).
Perhaps the most surprising finding, courtesy of the Department of Labor's American Time Use Survey, is that people don't necessarily volunteer more when they have more leisure time; apparently those with less free time volunteer more. Check out these stats:
- 29 percent of volunteers aged 25 to 55 also spend time on child care on any given day, but just 19 percent of non-volunteers have child-care responsibilities.
- Volunteers typically spend about 15 hours a week watching the tube, while non-volunteers spend 23 hours a week in front of the TV. (Maybe it's just me, but even 15 hours sounds like an awful lot of "Law and Order.")
Accordingly to the Chronicle, the more connected to a workplace or community you are, the more likely you are to volunteer (possibly because you've been asked to do so by your employer or community group). I wonder, though, whether this year's tough economy is affecting how generous people are with their time. So I'll be curious to see this study next year.
I'm also curious to hear what you think: Are you a past or present weekly volunteer? Do the above statistics add up for you, or do you get less volunteering done when you're more pressed for time and money? Has giving back to the community helped you feel more balanced in your life, or has it made you more harried? And finally, have you ever felt pressured to participate in a workplace volunteer program? Was it ultimately a positive experience or no?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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