By: Chip McComb
Emerging Media Specialist
In June, the Corporation for National and Community Service released Volunteering in America 2010: National State and City information Issue Brief. This report highlighted some interesting information that will have an effect on the state of volunteerism in America for years to come.
- In 2009, 63.4 million Americans volunteered to help their communities. This represents a 2.7% increase over 2008 and is the largest single-year increase in the United States since 2003.
- Volunteers served 8.1 billion hours, which are estimated to provide $169 billion of value overall. This equates to volunteer time worth $20.86 per hour.
- Educational and religious volunteer activities account for more than 62% of volunteer hours.
The report points not only to the promising growth of volunteerism in the United States, but to some interesting conclusions about future volunteer rates among different geographic areas. For instance, lower volunteer rates can be attributed to:
- Long commute times. The average commute times for residents within a geographical area correlate to lower volunteer rates.
- High unemployment rates. On the state level, higher unemployment rates correlate to lower volunteer rates.
- Foreclosure rates. Volunteer rates are lower in cities with more foreclosures
Conversely, volunteerism in a community increases in relation to:
- Home ownership. As home ownership increases, the volunteer rate within a city tends to increase
- Education. Volunteerism correlates strongly with education level. Specifically, communities see a upturn in the number of volunteers as the numbers of those who hold a GED or high school diploma increase.
- Community associations. Communities with clubs and associations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, etc., also have higher volunteer rates
I think Kiwanis can draw some important conclusions from this information. First, it’s important to build clubs in areas with lower volunteer rates. The presence of our clubs can and does transform communities. Second, our members must be as committed to their communities as they are to Kiwanis. Consider this quote from the report:
“The research literature on social capital (connections within and between social relationships) indicates that it is more challenging to build citizen engagement in communities where residents do not have a long-term commitment to the community and where a sense of anonymity may make it more difficult to know one’s neighbors.”
I encourage you to read the report at www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/assets/resources/IssueBriefFINALJune15.pdf.