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Volunteer rate rises to 26.8% in 2011

VOLUNTEERING IN THE UNITED STATES -- 2011


The volunteer rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 26.8 percent for the year 
ending in September 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
About 64.3 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least 
once between September 2010 and September 2011. The increase in the volunteer 
rate in 2011 followed a decline of equal size in 2010.

These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 
2011 Current Population Survey (CPS). The supplement was sponsored by the 
Corporation for National and Community Service. The CPS is a monthly survey of 
about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment 
among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. 
Volunteers are defined as persons who did unpaid work (except for expenses) 
through or for an organization. For more information about the volunteer 
supplement, see the Technical Note.

Volunteering Among Demographic Groups

The volunteer rate of women increased from 29.3 percent to 29.9 percent in the 
year ending in September 2011, while the volunteer rate for men, at 23.5 percent, 
changed little. Women continued to volunteer at a higher rate than did men across 
all age groups, educational levels, and other major demographic characteristics. 
(See tables A and 1.)

By age, 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds were the most likely to 
volunteer (31.8 and 30.6 percent, respectively). Persons in their early twenties 
were the least likely to volunteer (19.4 percent). Among the major race and 
ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate (28.2 percent) 
than did blacks (20.3 percent), Asians (20.0 percent), and Hispanics (14.9 percent). 
The volunteer rate for blacks increased in 2011. For all other major race and ethnicity
groups, the volunteer rates were little different from the rates in 2010.

As in earlier years, married persons volunteered at a higher rate (32.3 percent) 
in 2011 than did those who had never married (20.9 percent) and those with other 
marital statuses (21.5 percent). The volunteer rate of parents with children under 
age 18 (33.7 percent) remained higher than the rate for persons without children 
(24.1 percent).

Individuals with higher levels of educational attainment engaged in volunteer 
activities at higher rates than did those with less education. Among persons age 
25 and over, 42.4 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 18.2 
percent of high school graduates and 9.8 percent of those with less than a high 
school diploma.



Table A. Volunteers by selected characteristics, September 2007 through September 2011

(Numbers in thousands)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
                                       September 2007   September 2008   September 2009   September 2010   September 2011 
                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                          
                                      Number   Percent  Number  Percent  Number  Percent  Number  Percent  Number  Percent
                                              of popu-         of popu-         of popu-         of popu-         of popu-
                                               lation           lation           lation           lation           lation 
                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                         
                  Sex                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                         
Total, both sexes.....................60,838    26.2    61,803   26.4    63,361   26.8    62,790   26.3   64,252   26.8  
 Men..................................25,724    22.9    26,268   23.2    26,655   23.3    26,787   23.2   27,354   23.5  
 Women ...............................35,114    29.3    35,535   29.4    36,706   30.1    36,004   29.3   36,898   29.9  
                                                                                                                         
                  Age                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                         
Total, 16 years and over..............60,838    26.2    61,803   26.4    63,361   26.8    62,790   26.3   64,252   26.8  
 16 to 24 years....................... 7,798    20.8     8,239   21.9     8,290   22.0     8,297   21.9    8,578   22.5  
 25 to 34 years....................... 9,019    22.6     9,154   22.8     9,511   23.5     9,140   22.3    9,691   23.3  
 35 to 44 years.......................12,902    30.5    13,016   31.3    12,835   31.5    12,904   32.2   12,566   31.8  
 45 to 54 years.......................13,136    30.1    13,189   29.9    13,703   30.8    13,435   30.3   13,420   30.6  
 55 to 64 years....................... 9,316    28.4     9,456   28.1     9,894   28.3     9,830   27.2   10,449   28.1  
 65 years and over.................... 8,667    23.8     8,749   23.5     9,129   23.9     9,184   23.6    9,547   24.0  
                                                                                                                         
 Race and Hispanic or Latino 
         ethnicity                                                                                       
                                                                                                                         
White.................................52,586    27.9    53,078   27.9    54,078   28.3    53,556   27.8   54,432   28.2  
Black or African American............. 5,010    18.2     5,325   19.1     5,712   20.2     5,580   19.4    5,934   20.3  
Asian................................. 1,887    17.7     2,022   18.7     2,060   19.0     2,207   19.6    2,304   20.0  
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.......... 4,279    13.5     4,662   14.4     4,873   14.7     4,982   14.7    5,151   14.9  
                                                                                                                         
    Educational attainment (1)                                                                                        
                                                                                                                         
Less than a high school diploma....... 2,394     9.0     2,427    9.4     2,242    8.6     2,231    8.8    2,461    9.8  
High school graduates, no college (2).11,379    18.6    10,998   18.1    11,408   18.8    10,887   17.9   11,049   18.2  
Some college or associate degree......15,468    30.7    15,519   30.0    15,931   30.5    15,505   29.2   15,946   29.5  
Bachelor's degree and higher (3)......23,799    41.8    24,620   42.2    25,490   42.8    25,870   42.3   26,218   42.4  
                                                                                                                         
        Employment status                                                                                             
                                                                                                                         
Civilian labor force..................43,405    28.1    44,313   28.5    44,833   29.0    44,522   28.7   45,249   29.1  
 Employed.............................41,708    28.3    42,131   28.9    41,372   29.7    40,980   29.2   41,881   29.6  
  Full time (4).......................32,714    26.9    33,344   27.8    32,085   28.7    31,625   28.2   32,517   28.7  
  Part time (5)....................... 8,994    35.4     8,788   34.2     9,287   33.7     9,355   33.2    9,363   33.3  
 Unemployed........................... 1,697    23.2     2,181   22.3     3,462   22.9     3,542   23.8    3,368   23.8  
Not in the labor force................17,433    22.3    17,491   22.2    18,528   22.6    18,268   22.0   19,003   22.5  

  1 Data refer to persons 25 years and over.
  2 Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
  3 Includes persons with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.
  4 Usually work 35 hours or more a week at all jobs.
  5 Usually work less than 35 hours a week at all jobs.
  NOTE: Data on volunteers relate to persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities for an organization at any point
in the year ending in September. Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not
sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.
Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data. See the Technical Note for further information.



Volunteers by Employment Status

Among employed persons, 29.6 percent volunteered during the year ending in 
September 2011. By comparison, 23.8 percent of unemployed persons and 22.5 percent 
of those not in the labor force volunteered. Among the employed, part-time workers 
were more likely than full-time workers to have participated in volunteer 
activities--33.3 percent compared with 28.7 percent. (See table 1.)

Total Annual Hours Spent Volunteering

Volunteers of both sexes spent a median of 51 hours on volunteer activities during 
the period from September 2010 to September 2011. Median annual hours spent on 
volunteer activities ranged from a high of 96 hours for volunteers age 65 and over 
to a low of 32 hours for those 25 to 34 years old. (See table 2.)

Number and Type of Organizations

Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations--69.6 and 19.4 
percent, respectively. Individuals with higher educational attainment were more 
likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were those with less education. 
(See table 3.)

In 2011, the main organization--the organization for which the volunteer worked 
the most hours during the year--was most frequently religious (33.2 percent of all 
volunteers), followed by educational or youth service related (25.7 percent). 
Another 14.3 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for social or 
community service organizations. (See table 4.)

Older volunteers were more likely to volunteer for religious organizations than 
were their younger counterparts. For example, 44.9 percent of volunteers age 65 
and over did their service mainly through or for a religious organization, 
compared with 26.5 percent of volunteers age 16 to 24.

The type of main organization for which individuals volunteered also varied by 
educational attainment. Volunteering mainly for religious organizations decreased 
as educational attainment increased. Among volunteers with less than a high school 
diploma, 47.8 percent volunteered mainly for religious organizations, compared 
with 31.3 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and higher. Volunteering
primarily for educational or youth service organizations increased with educational 
attainment. Of volunteers with less than a high school diploma, 22.7 percent 
volunteered mainly for this type of organization, compared with 26.7 percent of 
those with a bachelor's degree and higher.

Among volunteers with children under 18 years old, 45.9 percent of mothers and 
37.3 percent of fathers volunteered mainly for an educational or youth service 
organization, such as a school or scouting group. Volunteers without children 
under 18 were more likely than parents to volunteer for other types of 
organizations, such as social or community service organizations and hospitals 
or other health organizations.

Main Volunteer Activity for Main Organization

Fundraising (11.0 percent) and collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving 
food (10.6 percent) were the activities volunteers performed most frequently 
for their main organization. Men and women tended to engage in different main 
activities. Men who volunteered were most likely to engage in general labor 
(13.3 percent); coach, referee, or supervise sports teams (10.1 percent); or 
fundraise (8.9 percent). Female volunteers were most likely to fundraise 
(12.6 percent); collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food (12.5 percent); 
or tutor or teach (10.7 percent). (See table 5.)

Educational attainment influenced the types of activities volunteers performed. 
College graduates were more likely than those with less education to tutor or 
teach or to provide professional or management assistance. They were least 
likely to collect, make, or distribute clothing, crafts, or goods other than 
food. Volunteers with less than a high school diploma were more likely to collect, 
prepare, and distribute food than those with higher levels of education.

Parents were considerably more likely than those without children to engage in 
volunteer activities that are related to children--including coaching, refereeing, 
or supervising sports teams; and mentoring youth.

How Volunteers Became Involved with Main Organization

Among volunteers, 41.9 percent became involved with their main organization 
after being asked to volunteer, most often by someone in the organization. 
About the same proportion (41.6 percent) became involved on their own 
initiative--that is, they approached the organization. (See table 6.)



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