Thursday, April 19, 2007

Volunteers are being drawn to youth and community

The Corporation for National and Community Service has released their annual survey of volunteerism in the U.S., showing a small drop in volunteer hours from 2005 to 2006. The broader context has been growth in volunteerism rates for a couple decades now; the data source is the Census Bureau's monthly surveying of about 60,000 households.

The report offers a variety of breakdowns on volunteerism which are interesting. For example when they compare 2006 to 1989 in terms of the different types of non-profits people are volunteering for, the big growth is for education/youth service groups (almost a doubled percentage of all volunteers now compared to then) and social or community service groups (a third more of all volunteers now than then). The recent losers of this particular sort of market share have been civic and professional groups, sports/hobby/arts groups, hospitals and health groups, and religious groups a little bit.

The report has a variety of rankings of the 50 states by volunteerism (hours, volunteers, rates of change, etc.) which shows generally that Midwesterners are volunteering at higher rates than any other part of the country. Utah is a huge outlier at the top end, I assume due to the Mormon theological emphasis on volunteering. But it would be interesting to see those breakdowns correlated with various demographics, e.g. are the states with older populations the ones with the highest volunteerism rates? And presumably various folks are busily crunching these new numbers to try to support or debunk the Charles Brooks theory about religious conservative folks volunteering more than any other group.

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