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National Service Blog - Archive
by
Wendy Spencer

During this holiday season, we are reminded of a timeless lesson:  it is better to give than receive, more blessed to serve than be served. And our new Volunteering and Civic Life in America report shows that Americans embrace this idea -- not only during the holidays, but all year long.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) issues this research every year in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship. The research provides a wealth of information on volunteering and civic life, including trends and demographics for the nation, every state, and 126 cities. This in-depth “look under the hood” helps local leaders better understand volunteer dynamics and develop strategies to engage more citizens in meeting community needs. 

Volunteering Remains Strong | 1 in 4 Americans volunteer (26.5%), enhancing opportunities for their neighbors and communities.  64.5 million Americans served 7.9 billion hours.

Our new report shows that volunteering remains stable and strong across the United States, and has a strong pull across generations. Altogether, more than 64.5 million adults volunteered through an organization in 2012, for a national volunteer rate of 26.5 percent, essentially unchanged from the prior year. Volunteers gave nearly 7.9 billion hours of service, worth an estimated $175 billion, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.

We found that Americans commitment to volunteering spans across generations:

  • America’s teens continue to increase their level of volunteering, rising by nearly 3 percent during the last six years.
  • Generation X volunteers (current age 32 to 48) are riding an even-longer streak of volunteering increases, and they now have the highest volunteer rate of any age group.
  • Not to be outdone, our seniors 65 and over are staying involved, contributing a median of 90 hours annually, a figure far above the level of the general population.

Like last year, we found that parents are the backbone of community volunteering, with more than one-third of those living with children under 18 taking the time to help. And let’s not forget our country’s working moms, who volunteer significantly more than the general population in addition to all of their other responsibilities.

Volunteers are the giving heart of America, essential to our nation’s social and economic well-being. They do hard-but-important work: helping kids learn to read and stay in school, rebuilding communities after disasters, connecting veterans to services, bringing life back to forgotten neighborhoods, and much more.

Volunteering also connects us with our neighbors and provides a chance to use own skills for the common good. Our Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment study showed that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. These connections create benefits that are even more pronounced for volunteers who don’t have a high school diploma or who live in rural areas, increasing the likelihood of finding work by 51 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

This spirit of generosity doesn’t end with the time volunteers give. Our research found that volunteers are twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers, with 8 in 10 volunteers ready to open their wallets for a good cause, compared to just 4 in 10 for those who don’t volunteer. 

All of this is great news for our nonprofits, our communities, and our country, and says so much about the nation in which we are blessed to live.

This time of year is often when we reflect on the past year and set our goals for the next. Given all the good it does for you and your community; resolve to make volunteering a part of your life in 2014.

Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Learn more about the 2013 Volunteering in Civic Life in America research at VolunteeringinAmerica.gov. To find a volunteer opportunity in your community, visit Serve.gov. This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post Impact blog.

Keywords: AmeriCorps, Education, Literacy, Minnesota, Reading
With his Michigan town in need of a cleaning and beautifying committee, a local resident took matters into his own hands.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" Across the country, Americans will answer that question by making the January 18, 2010 King Holiday a national day of service. We here at the Corporation for National and Community Service are asking individuals in the tech community to think about how you can help serve others on the King holiday and throughout the year. What can technologists do to help others on the King Holiday? There is a spectrum of involvement - from organizing a large-scale hackathon, to utilizing the King Holiday to build a blog for charity - everyone fits in according to whatever you can give.
Now is a great time to start planning a King Holiday project and I thought I would share this email from our Acting CEO, Nicola Goren.
Volunteers have the power to transform their community. As co-founder of Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden, I have witnessed how people of all ages and abilities can come together to make a difference, transform neglect into beauty, and inspire change in other communities. In less than two years, volunteers took a historic landmark park from probation to elation. This is our story.
Our project is the landscaping and on-going care of the grounds of the new Hospice House of St. Mary's County.
From January 9 in San Diego to June 12 in Sacramento, Melissa W. will join others to walk up the California coast and over to Sacramento to raise diabetes awareness and encourage healthy habits among middle school students.
The Beaches Veterans Association holds monthly cook-outs, rotating between organizations. All proceeds goes to the USO No Dough Dinners.
This past September 12, Pepperdine University alumni, parents, and friends took part in service projects around campus, across the nation, and around the world as part of the 21st annual Step Forward Day.
Feeling overwhelmed sometimes by the magnitude of the poverty, homelessness, and violence in this country and in our world, a volunteer learns to keep giving, keep loving, keep trying. “You never run out of capacity for these things,” she says.
My partners and I have started an off season youth football camp to better prepare the youth of our community in the fundamentals of the game and at the same time keep them occupied and off the streets.
In celebration of Global Youth Service Day 2009, high school students in El Paso planted tree seedlings behind three major non-profit organizations to provide a windbreak and safety screen for their outdoor areas.
The members of Western Fraternal Life Association Lodge #144 in Mosinee have made addressing community needs their top priority.
In my hometown of Reno, Nevada, about 60 low income, older veterans live in a subsidized-housing complex. Most live alone and have no family living nearby to help. The majority of them have no cars or even telephones. An added complication is that several are physically or mentally disabled.
The College Assistance Migrant Program Alumni Association will launch the 2nd National Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive Challenge in March 2010. This national service learning program promotes the engagement of U.S. Hispanic college health students as organizers in a national donor recruitment campaign. The students organize blood drive campaigns on their college/university campuses as part of this national competition.
I am currently serving my second AmeriCorps term with Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) in Washington, DC. YSOP coordinates opportunities for youth to engage in meaningful service in Washington, DC and New York City.
Green Road Community Center in Raleigh has a brand new playground today thanks to a coordinated effort of 200 volunteers from Foresters™ and the community who erected the facility.
Students in Murtaugh, Idaho are building a community entrance to their town to attract highway passerby’s and highlight their town's natural beauty.
The folks are trained through the city's Community Emergency Response Team and are prepared for wind, snow, ice, power outages and earthquakes. Kloshe Illahee is a community of citizens ages 55 and up. Residents embarked on their neighborhood emergency plan in 2005. The plan was finalized in 2006. Now, the group is preparing a revision, with the goal of continuing self-sustainability in preparation for a disaster.
For 32 years, Chore Service has performed minor household repairs to help elderly and disabled remain safe in their homes. The driving force of Chore Service has been the dedicated, compassionate volunteers who perform the repairs. These are extraordinary people, willing to lend their time and considerable talents to help others.
I have taken the call of our President. I started an organization in my Community called ' Wheels for Education " . What we do is take students from the inner city of Philadelphia to College campuses.
Our team members grab a cup of coffee, some eggs and bacon, a tool, and a hardhat – and the day’s adventure begins.
In Wimberley, $3 million dollars has been collected through monthly, volunteer-driven Market Days. Since the 1960's, that money has gone exclusively towards providing important resources to the town and its citizens.
I have been working with American WWII veterans since 1994, making many of them guests of honor where once they were in combat.
A student learns that "art can be an exceptionally powerful tool toward communications and healing when words and discussions fall short." The exhibit she organizes is about restoring a connection: between victims of domestic violence and a community through a visual narrative form -- ART.
Gary van der Wege, a member of the 2004 U.S. Paralympic Fencing Team, visited with the youth at the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio on September 11th. Gary shared with the club his inspiring story of how he became a paralympian.
During the first "Make a Delicious Difference Week," 10,000 Kraft Foods employees in more than 32 countries gave their time to help fight hunger, support healthy lifestyles, and build stronger communities around the world. It was the largest volunteer initiative ever in Kraft Foods’ history.
We have heard your engaging message across the Atlantic. Since President Obama and the First Lady have launched "United We Serve" in June, the students of the American School of Barcelona, Spain, from pre-school to high school, are responding enthusiastically to your call of service with volunteerism in our community to strengthen the world.
Volunteers at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., have contributed more than 32,00 hours of service to the community. Celebrating 50 years of service, the hospital established the Sibley Heart Pillow Project this year to provide heart-shaped pillows to breast cancer patients for use after surgery.
The current economic downturn and challenges of raising a family in the 21st century has an impact on young boys.
College student in Binghamton rally around their community after an unimaginable tragedy.

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