Why do people choose to volunteer? There are a variety of factors that range from the desire to make a difference in the community to learning new skills and building a resume. Regardless of the motivating factor, organizations that rely on volunteer support (such as Literacy KC) certainly appreciate when people in the community get involved. While almost 1 in 4 Americans report volunteering at least once per year, volunteering rates in the U.S have steadily declined over time.
According to the U.S Department of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate of U.S citizens aged 16 & over has consistently decreased since 2002 (27.6%), when the first annual report was conducted. In 2011, 26.8% of U.S citizens reported volunteering at least once during the year. 2015’s volunteer rate was 1.9% than 2011’s, with a net loss of 1,629,000 volunteers despite a growing U.S population. The table below outlines the year to year changes in volunteering over the last five years.
That leaves many people to wonder: why is the volunteering rate is decreasing? Some of the possible reasons that have been listed include economic and financial stress, regional volunteering differences, changes in government funding, and an increase in single-parent households/households where parents hold multiple jobs. The variety of reasons given suggests that perhaps there is not a single factor causing this shift, but rather a combination of them as a whole.
The next question that is important to examine is: what types of activities are volunteers dedicating their time to? In 2015, the U.S Department of Labor Statistics found that among people who volunteered, the top three types of organizations that drew volunteers were religious (33.1%), educational & youth service related (25.2%), and social/community service related (14.6%).
The graph above shows differences in volunteer rates between men & women, along with the total volunteer rate. While women traditionally volunteer at a higher rate than men, does each gender perform the same tasks when they volunteer? The data suggests that the answer to this question is no. In 2015, the top three volunteer activities that men performed were:
- General Labor (12.3%)
- Coaching, Refereeing, or Supervising Sports Teams (9.3%)
- Collecting, Preparing, Distributing, or Serving Food (9.2%)
On the other hand, the top three volunteer activities for women in 2015 were:
- Collecting, Preparing, Distributing, or Serving Food (12.9%)
- Tutoring or Teaching (10.6%)
- Fundraising (9.9%)
Regardless of the activity that a volunteer chooses to dedicate his or her time to, the value of volunteer hours to an organization is monumental. It is estimated that as of 2015, each hour of volunteer time is worth $23.56. In Missouri specifically, there are over 37,000 Nonprofit organizations!
Literacy KC is so grateful to all of our volunteers that have chosen our organization as their destination for dedicating their time. Despite the national trend of declining volunteer rates, Literacy KC has experienced tremendous volunteer growth over the years as the organization has expanded its size and services. In 2015, Literacy KC had 355 Volunteers who dedicated 7,139 hours to the organization! That is the equivalent of 3.5 full time employees and would have cost the organization over $165,000. Have you ever thought about volunteering your time at Literacy KC? Come join a truly special community of people who are working to improve adult literacy in Kansas City. There are a number of ways to get involved! For more information about volunteer opportunities, please visit our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 816-333-9332.