VOLUNTEERING IN THE
September 2004 through September 2005
time dollar value
Idaho Ranked Second in
Nation for Hours Volunteered
second in the nation for the annual median number of
volunteer hours donated in a year and 14th in the number of
people volunteering. This according to "Volunteering
in America: State Trends and Rankings" a new study by the
Corporation for National and Community Service.
The report is based upon the
most statistically significant study of volunteering ever
conducted in America - an annual survey of 60,000 households
begun in 2002 by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the
first study to give a detailed breakdown of America's states
More than 65 million people
volunteered in the U.S. during 2005, increasing from 5.6
million people since 2002. The figure represents
almost 29% of the U.S. population and the economic
equivalent is almost $150 billion dollars in services each
The national volunteer rate is
28.8%. Idaho's rate is 35.5% (14th nationally).
Utah is first with a 48% volunteer rate, Nevada came in last
The national median number of
volunteer hours worked is 51 hours per year. Idaho's
is 64 hours (second). Utah again came in first with 96
hours, North Dakota came in last with 36 hours.
The report also shows volunteer
rates by seniors, baby boomers, young adults and college
students. The full report, including highlights,
state-by-state rankings, profiles of volunteering in each
region and state, statistical tables, and technical notes,
is available at
According to the Department of Labor Statistics of the U.S.
Department of Labor, about 65.4 million people volunteered
through or for an organization at least once between
September 2004 and September 2005.
The proportion of the population who volunteered was 28.8
percent, the same as in each of the prior 2 years.
Volunteers are defined as persons who did unpaid work
(except for expenses) through or for an organization.
Volunteering Among Demographic Groups
One-fourth of men and about one-third of women did volunteer
work in the year ended in September 2005, about the same
proportions as in the 2 prior years. Women volunteered at a
higher rate than men across age groups, educational levels,
and other major characteristics.
By age, persons age 35 to 44 were the most likely to
volunteer (34.5 percent), closely followed by 45- to 54-year
olds (32.7 percent). Teenagers also had a relatively high
volunteer rate, 30.4 percent, perhaps reflecting an emphasis
on volunteer activities in schools. Volunteer rates were
lowest among persons in their early twenties (19.5 percent)
and among those age 65 and over (24.8 percent). Within the
latter group, volunteer rates decreased as age increased.
Whites volunteered at a higher rate (30.4 percent) than did
blacks (22.1 percent) and Asians (20.7 percent).
Among Hispanics or Latinos, 15.4 percent volunteered.
Married persons volunteered at a higher rate (34.1 percent)
than never-married persons (23.0 percent) and persons of
other marital statuses (23.1 percent). Parents with children
under age 18 were more likely to volunteer than persons
without children of that age, 37.0 percent compared with
Among employed persons, 31.3 percent had volunteered during
the year ended in September 2005. By comparison, the
volunteer rates of persons who were unemployed (26.4
percent) or not in the labor force (24.4 percent) were
lower. Among the employed, part-time workers were more
likely than full-time workers to have participated in
volunteer activities—38.2 versus 29.8 percent.
Total Annual Hours Spent Volunteering
Volunteers spent a median of 50 hours on volunteer
activities during the period from September 2004 to
September 2005. This was down slightly from the level in the
three previous surveys. Men spent 52 hours volunteering and
women spent 50 hours. Median annual hours spent on volunteer
activities ranged from a high of 96 hours for volunteers age
65 and over to a low of 36 hours for those 16 to 19 and 25
to 34 years old.
Type of Organizations
Most volunteers were involved with one or two
organizations—69.6 and 18.9 percent, respectively.
Individuals with higher educational attainment were more
likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were
individuals with less education. Parents also were more
likely to volunteer for more than one organization than
persons with no own children under 18.
The main organization—the organization for which the
volunteer worked the most hours during the year—was most
frequently either religious (34.8 percent of all volunteers)
or educational/youth service related (26.2 percent). Another
13.4 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for
social or community service organizations.
Older volunteers were more likely to work mainly for
religious organizations than were their younger
counterparts. For example, 45.0 percent of volunteers age 65
and over performed volunteer activities mainly through or
for a religious organization, compared with 27.5 percent of
volunteers age 16 to 24 years.
Younger individuals were more likely to volunteer through or
for educational or youth service organizations.
Among volunteers with children under 18 years old, 45.2
percent of mothers and 36.1 percent of fathers volunteered
mainly for an educational/youth service-related
organization, such as a school or sports team. Parents
were more than twice as likely to volunteer for such
organizations as persons with no children of that age—51.5
and 21.6 percent, respectively. Conversely, volunteers with
no children under 18 were considerably more likely to
volunteer for some other types of organizations, such as
hospitals or other health organizations and social or
community service organizations.
Activities for Main Organization
Volunteers were able to report more than one activity that
they had performed for their main organization. Fundraising
was the most commonly reported activity (29.7 percent),
followed by collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving
food (26.3 percent), engaging in general labor or supplying
transportation to people (22.5 percent), and tutoring or
teaching (21.3 percent).
Educational attainment influenced the types of activities
volunteers performed. People with higher levels of
educational attainment were more likely to provide
professional or management assistance, tutor or teach,
mentor youth, coach, referee, or supervise sports teams, or
provide counseling, medical care, fire/EMS, or protective
services. They were less likely to collect, prepare,
distribute, or serve food, or be an usher, greeter, or
Parents were considerably more likely than those without
children to engage in several types of volunteer
activities—fundraising, tutoring or teaching, mentoring
youth, and coaching, refereeing, or supervising sports
teams. This may be because parents often volunteer for
organizations in which their children are involved.
How Volunteers Became Involved with Main
Two in five volunteers became involved with the main
organization for which they did volunteer work on their own
initiative; that is, they approached the organization. A
slightly larger proportion, almost 43 percent, was asked to
volunteer, most often by someone in the organization.
Reasons for Not
Among those who had volunteered at some point in the past,
the most common reason given for not volunteering in the
year ended September 2005 was lack of time (45.6 percent),
followed by health or medical problems (15.2 percent), and
family responsibilities or childcare problems (9.3 percent).
Lack of time was the most common reason for persons in all
age groups except those age 65 and over, who reported health
or medical problems as the primary reason.
The data in this release were collected through a supplement
to the September 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS). The
CPS—a monthly survey of about 60,000 households conducted by
the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor
Statistics—focuses on obtaining information on employment
and unemployment among the nation’s civilian
non-institutional population age 16 and over. The purpose of
this supplement to the CPS was to obtain information on the
incidence of volunteering and the characteristics of
volunteers in the