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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
One volunteer shares the story of how she benefitted personally through service to her community.
Stephanie explained how she would be reading a large print book and described her visual limitations. We stopped after each page for interactive comments and even corrections in the reading of the material! These kids were avid readers and didn’t miss a beat...
There is nothing like brightening a stranger’s day with a thank you, and a kind gesture.
On July 23rd, in support of United We Serve’s Community Renewal Week, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims and Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion teamed up with Teens 4 Good at the East Poplar Urban Farm to harvest potatoes for donation.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia participated in two United We Serve volunteer projects at the end of July including a park clean up and weatherization of a home.
Believe me, volunteering does wonders for a wounded soul because I received far more than I gave.
The Woodville Community Library is not only a place where citizens of Woodville, WI and the surrounding area can borrow books, audio books, and movies, but it is also a community hub of information and activity.
Disheartened by the state of the local cemetary and the lost memory of past neighbors, a Sumter, SC family takes matters into their own hands.
Whole Foods shoppers know that when they donated their unwanted cell phones at Secure the Call’s collection barrels in Ann Arbor and West Bloomfield, MI that not only were they ‘greening’ their community, but they were also helping to keep the Detroit area safe.
The Breakthrough Leaders Program's main focus is leadership and one way we did that was by volunteering at a near by care center.
One of the most beautiful places in the Deckers Creek watershed is the scenic gorge along route 7 in Morgantown, WV. Despite the beauty found here, the area is frequently used as a dumping ground for trash.
Zenniah had the challenge and support she needed to succeed when she was a young scholar at Higher Achievement in DC. After graduating from the program, Zenniah immediately returned as a volunteer to help other young people from her community get on that same path to success.
As part of ARAMARK Building Community and United We Serve's Community Renewal Issue Week, Rodney, Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens, and 150 other ARAMARK employees spent the day volunteering at the East Baltimore Development Inc (EBDI) Community Center -- a place of great importance to Rodney.
The mission of Always Ready Kids was inspired by my Aunt Betsy who is a 9/11 survivor. Aunt Betsy was pushing the revolving door of the Center when the first plane hit. She says that what helped her survive is that she “was prepared with basic items” in her purse like a flashlight and handkerchief. Aunt Betsy is proof that preparedness saves lives.
I get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction to be able to give something back to the hospital whose dedicated employees worked so hard to give my husband his life back. They gave me my life back too.
When I arrived at work the other day (I collect tolls and distribute information at a booth along a 20-mile stretch of road that cuts through the park), a memo sat by the cash register: To: All Department of Interior Employees From: Secretary Subject: United We Serve What a revelation. Just a short time ago, I sat in an audience hearing from the First Lady about the idea that this summer, service would become an activity of all Americans. Now, two months later, a memo from the DOI Secretary announces a “call to action for all employees to participate in United We Serve and commit to a volunteer service goal this summer.”
Z, a middle school student in a Summerbridge learning program, didn't stand out. Until he started doing Calculus...
What does "active citizenship" mean for first- and second-generation Korean Americans? What's their role in addressing social problems in their own communities? This student wants to help LA-area youth figure that out.
Through our Community Emergency Response Team training, we came up with a disaster plan for our community. We have had many drills. We separate our community into six sections and send teams of two out to check approximately 50 homes per team.
By helping to care for others and feeding others, the love and compassion of the souls shines brightly. There is nothing more important in life than love for others.
My name is Robby Riess, Assistant Cubmaster of Pack 353 Brooklyn, NY & Brooklyn District Committee Camping Chairman. We set out to tackle the task of getting a few scouts for the much needed clean up of the shorelines of Floyd Bennett Field which impacts the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge area of Gateway National Parks.
In 2006, Kristin teamed up with four of her friends to start Birthday Wish. In the past two and a half years, they have helped over 80 families throw birthday parties for their children. The experience has strengthened her friendships and taught her that "young people can make a difference." She advises: "Don't think you can't get it done, don't think a task is too big and never give up."
When NEA teachers get together for their annual conference, they don't just go to meetings. This June, over 400 college students and retired teachers affiliated with the National Education Association pitched in to revitalize an elementary school in San Diego.
During these past few years, I have seen several major events consisting of structure fires, vehicle accidents, vehicle fires, search & rescues and wild fires. It is teamwork that has proven time after time, that we can perform a task that sometimes leaves you wondering why risks are taken.
A little help to get back on their feet.
I started interning with New Jersey Community Water Watch , which is a program ran by AmeriCorps and NJPIRG in a joint project. The program works by informing community members and students and encouraging them to be active stewards of their local water ways.
For three weeks, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been collecting men's and women's business attire in an agency-wide effort to donate clothes to unemployed Americans seeking to re-join the workforce.
These Target team members are putting their skills to work for local kids to promote education and literacy. How could you use your own talents to support a community project?
Each spring since the restoration, the Bohemian Hall has a fund raising event called “Long Live the Squeeze Box”. Musicians donate a song or two for the event to help with restoration projects. This year we took it one step further.
The Sons of Norway answer the President's call to service.

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