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Volunteering Grows, But Giving Money Still Considered Easier

(Feb. 25, 2008) The percentage of Americans who volunteer grew by 10 percent in 2007, according to a study by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The survey, which polled 1,000 adults across the United States, found that 74 percent of American adults said they participated in some type of volunteer service in 2007.

Despite the increase, Americans continue to say that giving money is easier than giving one’s time. Fifty-two percent of respondents in the survey said it is easier to give money, compared to 30 percent who said it is easier to give time. Sixteen percent said both are equally easy.

Factors Affecting Giving, Volunteering

Age, income, education and employment status all affect attitudes about giving. Older individuals tend to prefer giving money, while younger people tend to give more of their time. Fifty-eight percent of seniors (age 65+) and 53 percent of pre-retirees (age 55 to 64) favor giving money over time versus 44 percent of young adults (age 18 to 24).  

Young adults are also three times more likely than seniors to say giving one’s time is easier than giving money (49 percent versus 15 percent). They are also twice as likely as pre-retirees (49 percent versus 24 percent) to find giving time easier.

Those working full-time and retirees said giving money is easier (58 percent and 54 percent, respectively), while those working part-time (42 percent) and those not employed (38 percent) indicated that giving one’s time is easier.

Talk Louder Than Action?

The survey also found a wide gap between individuals who say they are willing to volunteer and those who actually do, according to the Chronicle.

For example, almost three out of four respondents said they would be willing to serve a meal to a homeless person, but just 13 percent had actually volunteered at a homeless shelter.

In addition, 71 percent said they were willing to clean a park, but only 32 percent had done so.

About the Survey

Telephone interviews were conducted for Thrivent Financial by Synovate TeleNation Research, Chicago, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, 2007, among a nationwide sample of 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older. The margin of error for questions posed to all 1,000 respondents is +/- 3 percent.

A press release about the survey can be found on the Thrivent Financial website. The Chronicle of Philanthropy story about the survey can be found here.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities.

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