Sunday, May 20, 2012

Volunteers In America

Who are our volunteers? According to Volunteering in America, the rate of volunteerism tends to be higher when participants are teenagers rather than in early adulthood. Volunteer participation is lowest in the 20-24 year age group. It picks up again from that point and swells to its peak with participants from 35-44 years of age. Later in life, fewer people serve as volunteers, but they tend to contribute more hours each year per individual.

Volunteers meet crucial needs in a variety of fields. Millions devoted their time to youth mentoring, tutoring and teaching. Others donated their time and efforts to fund-raising, food service and physical labor.

In 2010, volunteers contributed 8.1 billion hours in the United States, a value estimated to be close to $173 billion! As budget challenges increase, the time contributed by volunteers takes on a greater importance in many organizations. Over 60 percent of the people who volunteered in 2009 returned to volunteer again in 2010.

Research shows that strategies aimed at enriching the volunteer experience all influenced whether volunteers returned to their jobs the following year. Those organizations which recognized their volunteers, trained them, offered them opportunities to advance professionally and matched their volunteers' skills to the tasks at hand had higher numbers of returning volunteers.

Washington ranks 11th among the states for its rate of volunteerism with 1.7 million people contributing 218.9 million hours of service in 2010. That's 42.2 hours per resident! Aren't you proud to be one of them?

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