A federal study shows that 1 in 4 Americans volunteered through an organization and two-thirds helped their neighbors. Connecticut has an annual volunteer rate of 29.1 percent, with 797,150 volunteers serving 87.1 million total hours per year, ranking the state 18th in the nation. The annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America research, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), shows that service to others continues to be a priority for millions of Americans.
The report found that 62.6 million adults (25.4 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2013. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 7.7 billion hours. The estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $173 billion, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.
Overall, in Connecticut:
- 1% of residents volunteer
- 797,150 volunteers
- 1 million hours of service
- $2.0 billion of service contributed
- 4 volunteer hours per capita
- 1% of residents engage in “informal volunteering” (for example, doing favors for neighbors)
- 8% frequently discuss politics with family or friends
- 8% frequently eat dinner with other members of the household
- 7% frequently talk with neighbors
The levels of formal and informal volunteering in Connecticut both exceed the national average. Connecticut’s volunteer rate among teenagers placed the state at #5, and among young adults was #10, the state’s highest rankings.
Nationwide, more than 138 million Americans (62.5 percent) also engaged in informal volunteering in their communities, helping neighbors with such tasks as watching each other’s children, or house sitting. Other civic health indicators found that two-thirds (68.5 percent) of Americans have dinner with their family virtually every day, while three in four (75.7 percent) see or hear from friends and family at least a few times a week. More than a third (36.3 percent) are involved in a school, civic, recreational, religious, or other organization.
“The civic health of our country is strong when people trust and help their neighbors and engage with their government,” said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “Civic engagement is essential to the life our country. That’s why all sectors of society from non-profits, to businesses, to our government must redouble their efforts to promote greater connections among Americans.”
The research shows that overall rate of volunteering is slightly lower than the previous year, but the overall rate remains stable across demographic lines:
Americans ages 35-44 had the highest volunteer rate (31.3 percent) followed by those age 45-54 (29.4 percent). One in five of those defined as “Millennials”, those of ages 16-31, (21.7 percent) volunteered. The age groups with the highest median hours among volunteers are ages 65-74 (92 hours) and those 75 and older (90 hours).
The volunteer rate of parents with children under age 18 (32.9 percent) remained higher than the population as a whole (25.4 percent) and for persons without children under 18 (22.7 percent). The volunteer rate among young adults (aged 18-24) attending college was 26.7 percent, nearly double the volunteer rate of young adults not attending college (13.5 percent).
The research also found that volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Nearly eight in 10 (79.2 percent) volunteers donated to charity, compared to four in 10 (40.4 percent) non-volunteers. Overall, half of all citizens (50.7 percent) donated at least $25 to charity in 2013.
“Volunteers enrich our communities and keep our nation strong. Service also connects us with our neighbors and provides a chance to use our skills for the common good. There are so many ways we can make a difference for those in need,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The top 10 states were Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Washington and Alaska and Oregon, tied for #10.
Between 2011 and 2013, average values in states ranged from 17.8 percent (Louisiana) to 44.6 percent (Utah). Rankings are based on a three-year moving average. Among Connecticut’s neighboring states, Vermont ranked #12, New Hampshire ranked #24, Massachusetts ranked 33rd, Rhode Island ranked 42nd, New Jersey ranked 45th, and New York ranked 50th, according to the NCoC data for the 50 states and Washington DC.
As the federal agency for service and volunteering, CNCS engages more than five million Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, National Days of Service, and other programs. NCoC is a congressionally chartered organization dedicated to strengthening civic life in America.