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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
It took a lot of time but the rewards of serving in the hospital and on the ambulance are well worth it.
Eighteen volunteers put in 4,320 hours a year and serve approximately 25,200 meals at St. John’s Samaritans Table in Stark County, Ohio. The volunteers manage all aspects of the weekly program and make sure that no one leaves the table hungry.
As part of their Leadership Morgan Hill class project, the Class of 2009 is organizing a community Volunteer Fair in September that will connect organizations with community members looking for opportunities to volunteer. Their goal is to make their new organization, Volunteer Morgan Hill, and the Volunteer Faire a permanent part of the community.
I am a summer intern in the Office of the Mayor of New York City, and I am a proud member of the brand new NYC Service team. NYC Service is a new municipal initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to answer President Obama’s national call to service, and its primary goal is to increase volunteerism and civic engagement in the city
I know that volunteering makes our community a better place to live and extends a helping hand to those in need.
If you are reading these words with your eyes scanning across the screen, you might forget that there are many for whom that is not possible. Nancy wants to make sure all people, whether blind or sighted, have a chance at a great education.
Approximately 1,500 global Cisco employees and contingent workers volunteer their time to train and respond to a variety of emergency situations through Cisco's Emergency Response Team (ERT).
Mary was weary of responding to the President's call to service, but during an afternoon working with special needs children at a local pool, she quickly discovered that volunteering offered much more.
Veterans First Executive Director, Deanne Tate, was moved to tears thanking volunteers for volunteering and spending the day helping veterans in need. It was an honor to participate on this rebuild project and help honor the service men and women who have given so much to our country.
Among the many difficulties facing the Appalachian communities of Southwest Virginia is the quality of education. With limited funding, many primary and high schools struggle to meet the Standards of Learning (SOL), set forth by the state of Virginia in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act. In recent years, the rural elementary schools of Russell County have sought to incorporate an environmental education aspect in their curriculum. They’ve experienced difficulty in implementing the project due to lack of resources and few qualified instructors.
Right To Play sponsored an exchange program between athletes in Jordan and the United States. The program recognizes the universal appeal of sport as an ideal vehicle to inform, educate and empower entire communities.
Kids and teens with behavior problems often fall far behind in their academic development. Mary knew this because of her own son. She decided to get involved with a local literacy program to help youth involved in the juvenile justice system get a solid education.
On August 6th, nearly 40 volunteers - some as young as 7, donned gloves, grabbed shovels and rakes, and hauled trash to help beautify and revitalize Milwaukee's 30th Street Industrial Corridor. Many of the community's industrial sites are underutilized and volunteers hope that clean-up projects like this one will help attract new business and revitalize the community.
Linda Loi has been volunteering in the Golden Gate National Park for the last five years. First in the Urban Trail Blazers Program and most recently with the program Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders, Loi has dedicated hours of her time each week to giving back, not just environmentally but also as a youth leader and role model to others in her programs.
Health Corps strives to help stem the crisis of child obesity through school-based health education and mentoring, as well as community events and outreach to underserved populations.
The local Czechoslovak Society of America group in North Riverside, IL, volunteered over 300 hours at the town library to complete a special project.
This community event provides our entire community with heightened crime and drug prevention awareness; generates support for and participation in local anticrime programs; strengthens neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and sends a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
For her July birthday party, Cara M. told friends and family to forget the usual gifts and leis. Instead, she asked guests to bring cans of food for her church's food pantry, reminding them that even in idyllic Honolulu neighbors were struggling with hunger and homelessness.
What started with a single vegetable garden on the grounds of USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. has grown into global movement. In their offices across the country and all over the world, USDA employees are volunteering their time to create community gardens, demonstrate sustainable agricultural techniques that everyday people can incorporate into their homes and lives, and showcase the importance of preserving the environment and conserving energy.
These citizens will be especially active during National Health Center Week, August 9th - 16th, 2009. Visit NACHC’s site www.healthcenterweek.com to find out about Health Center Week events near you.
Summer Advantage USA, a national non-profit that provides summer learning opportunities for youth in grades K - 8, led its young scholars through a process of identifying community challenges and implementing service projects. Here, these young people reflect on their work.
Keeping the veterans community active is the best way to honor those who have served.
Busy working mom Kenya was driving home from her children's little league game when she wondered, "why don't we have this for service?" To teach her children and others in the community the importance of service and time with family, Kenya came up with the Family Service Team Program.
We found a solution to help military girls fight low self-esteem, grow in leadership, and unite with those who understand their struggles. The Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs will bring together 500 military girls from across California for the first ever weekend conference for military girls to empower one another in sisterly support.
The YMCA Earth Service Corps joined forces with the Washington Trails Association to get dirty at Mount Saint Helens for a week of environmental restoration.
A Community Health Corps member shares their story of service.
This young man learns that putting his still-struggling second-language skills to work in his community parent education role is a win-win.
160 Odyssey House staff, clients and community volunteers tackle record breaking rainfall to build a new playground at the Family Re-Entry supportive housing facility in the South Bronx.
United We Serve to Save Energy & the Earth!! I organized a home energy efficiency event in Battle Creek, Michigan. The overarching goal was to reach out to the Battle Creek community to help lower their energy costs and decrease carbon pollution emissions.
One volunteer shares the story of how she benefitted personally through service to her community.

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