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Women, People in Utah, Most Likely to Volunteer

(July 24, 2006) Women are more likely to volunteer than men in every state in the United States, according to a new report on volunteerism released by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings is an annual survey of 60,000 households begun in 2002 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The study is the first to provide a detailed breakdown of America’s giving habits and patterns by state and region, including state-by-state rankings and profiles of volunteering in reach region and state.

Females volunteer at significantly higher rates than do males in every state. In addition, women with children under age 18 volunteer at a significantly higher rate (39.9 percent) than do women without children (29.0 percent), while women who work are far more likely to volunteer (36.1 percent) than women who do not work (27.2 percent).

The study also found that adult volunteering generally follows a life cycle, with people age 35-54 most likely to volunteer. The rate of participation declines with age, especially for individuals over 65.

The top volunteer activities by category are mentoring, tutoring, coaching and refereeing (35.0 percent), fundraising (29.7 percent) and collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (26.3 percent).

State Rankings

Utah leads the U.S. in nearly every category of volunteering, including highest volunteer rate (48.0 percent), annual hours donated by a typical volunteer (96) and overall volunteer rates by seniors (51.8 percent), college students (62.9 percent) and young adults (45.4 percent).

Behind Utah in rates of volunteerism are Nebraska (42.8 percent), Minnesota (40.7 percent), Iowa (39.2 percent) and Alaska (38.9 percent). The national average is 28.8 percent.

The states with the highest average number of hours contributed annually are Utah (96), Idaho (64) and Arizona, Maryland and Montana (60). The national average is 50 hours per year.

In contrast, the states with the lowest volunteerism rates are Nevada, New York, Louisiana, Florida and West Virginia.

Religion and Race

The greatest percentage of volunteers serves primarily through religious organizations (34.8 percent).

However, while the influence of religion and the size of a state’s rural population appear to have a positive influence on volunteer rates, some states with lower religious activity or substantial urban populations (e.g., Vermont and Michigan, respectively) have very strong volunteer rates. In addition, Bible Belt states (generally Southern states, stretching approximately from Virginia to Texas) have a lower volunteer rate than most Midwest and West states.

The study also found that, in general, volunteer rates for minorities are substantially lower than non-Hispanic whites in most states. “The fact that minorities have lower volunteer rates may suggest that organizations will need to reach out to them more in the future or face volunteer shortages as white non-Hispanics become a smaller part of the U.S. population,” said Robert Grimm, director of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Office of Research and Policy Development. “Similarly, with the aging of the boomer population, we need to challenge ourselves to make sure their volunteering prevalence does not decline with age.”

About the Study

Volunteer in America: State Trends and Rankings features a two-page state profile for each state and the District of Columbia that displays information on the number of people volunteering, the volunteering rate, the number of hours volunteered, the primary organizations at which volunteers perform work and the types of activities volunteers perform in each state.

The full report is available on the Corporation for National and Community Service website.

The report is based on data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics through a “volunteering supplement” to the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2002 to 2005. The volunteer supplement is administered annually to about 60,000 households nationwide.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, established in 1993 and based in Washington, D.C., is a government agency that provides opportunities for nearly 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America.

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