Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Volunteering in America

I've been browsing the latest data on a website called "Volunteering in America," which tracks trends in volunteerism around the country. It has some fascinating facts about volunteers in Washington and, more specifically, in Seattle, one of 50 large cities surveyed around the country.

Along with a lot of other details, here are a few interesting facts:
  • Washington State has 1.7 million volunteers who contribute more than 240 million hours of service per year (48.5 hours per resident), worth an estimated $4.7 billion dollars.

  • This places Washington 4th within the 50 states in the average number of volunteer hours per citizen. We are exceeded only by Utah, Idaho, and Alaska, and Oregon is close behind in 5th place.

  • Volunteer retention in Washington from one year to the next is 71.6%, the 8th highest rate ni the nation.

  • Washington is 12th overall in the percentage of its citizens who volunteer. However, in the Young Adult age group (ages 16-24), we rank 3rd, behind Utah and (by a hair) Minnesota. Our rate is 45% higher than the national average.

  • Our standing is even better in the Teenage age group (ages 16-19), where we're tied with North Dakota and Vermont for first place. Our 42.3% volunteer rate exceeds the national average by 56%.

  • The rate in Seattle is 46.9 hours per person, making it 3rd among the 50 large cities surveyed in terms of volunteer hours and 4th in terms of the percentage of citizens who volunteer.

  • The total number of volunteer hours contributed has, however, declined for four years running, from more than 150 million hours total in 2004 to less than 110 million in 2007. Interestingly, the percentage of people who volunteer has only slipped slightly (and less than the national average), suggesting that similar numbers are volunteering, but for shorter periods of time.

  • This is mirrored by the Washington state totals. The rate of volunteerism actually went up from 2006 to 2007, bucking the national trend, but total hours volunteered decreased significantly.

It will be very interesting to see how these numbers evolve over time. Will our high rate of youth volunteerism eventually lead to higher rates of adult volunteerism? How will the current financial crises affect rates of volunteerism?

Fascinating stuff.

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