What motivates someone to volunteer?
And what are they volunteering for?
How many hours a month are they donating to favorite organizations?
Understanding trends in volunteering in the U.S. may be helpful to your efforts recruiting volunteers for your organization. Here are facts about volunteering that we have found.
Volunteering Statistics 2016
People of all ages volunteer their time. For 2016, the percentages of the total number of volunteers in America by age were very similar.
- 18 to 34-year-old adults made up 28%
- 35 to 54-year-old adults made up 33%
- Adults aged 55 and older made up 34%
More women than men volunteer, 28 percent of women volunteer vs. 22 percent of men. Across all age groups and education levels, women volunteer more than men.
Married people volunteer more than single people. Parents with children under the age of 18 are more likely to volunteer (31 percent) than people without children (26 percent).
Those with higher levels of education are more likely to volunteer. Of people age 25 and older, almost 40 percent of those with bachelor’s degree or higher volunteer. Twenty-seven percent of employed people volunteer, while 23 percent of the unemployed volunteer. Employed volunteers are more likely to work full-time.
Why Do People Volunteer?
Understanding what motivates people to volunteer will help you recruit and keep volunteers.
A report from Verified Volunteers shows that 75 percent of younger volunteers (ages 35 and younger), prefer to use what they’ve learned in school or at work.
Those who are older (55 and over) aren’t as concerned with using their skills. They choose volunteering opportunities that help their communities in the best possible ways. In fact, 80 percent of those interviewed said they just wanted to help their community in any way they could.
The Verified Volunteers research report shows most volunteers are repeat volunteers. More than 61 percent of volunteers return to assist the organizations they volunteer with. These volunteers give an average of 29 hours of their time each month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most volunteers work for religious organizations (33 percent of all volunteers). Educational or youth-services ranks second (with 25 percent of volunteers). No matter the type of organization, the main activity of most volunteers is to collect, prepare and distribute food. This is good news for organizations such as Meals on Wheels or local senior centers.
Older volunteers tend to turn to religious organizations, while younger volunteers prefer to help out non-profits and educational services.
Numbers Are Down
From 2015 to 2016, the number of people who volunteered actually dropped. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics say volunteer rates have been steadily declining for more than ten years.
The president of VolunteerMatch believes the volunteering rates are falling because the United States doesn’t invest enough resources in non-profits. He believes that without resources, non-profits do not have the time or money to attract and engage new volunteers.
The most recent U.S. data about the value of volunteers is from 2015:
- 62.6 million people volunteered
- 7.9 billion hours of service were provided
- Volunteers contributed $184 billion of services
- The estimated value of a volunteer hour in the U.S. reached $23.56.
While volunteering may be down, people still want to help. And their help is invaluable. As you develop your organization's plan to recruit and retain volunteers, keep the reasons people volunteer in mind. Volunteers want to help in areas where they can do good in their communities. For more help with recruiting and retaining volunteers, download our free tip sheet, The Path to Volunteer Engagement.