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Volunteering in the United States

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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These two reports (Volunteering in the United States and Giving and Volunteering in the United States 2001) highlight the volunteer activities of Americans. The more detailed of the free reports, from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that slightly more than one in four Americans (age 16 or over) volunteered during the survey year (Sept. 2001- Sept. 2002). The 27.6% volunteer rate in the US is very similar to the rate reported in Canada in 2000 (26.7%). The report summary also notes that a typical volunteer spent 52 hours volunteering during the year, with volunteers aged 65 and over devoting the most time (a median of 96 hours each).

Of the 59 million volunteers in the US, only about 2.4 million (or 4.0% of volunteers) devoted the most time during the survey year to a “sport, hobby, cultural or arts” organization. This category falls between support for environmental or animal care organizations (1.6% of volunteers) and support for civic, professional or international organizations (6.1%). Volunteer support in all of these areas falls well below the support given to religious organizations (34%) and educational/youth-service related organizations (27%). Although women volunteered in greater numbers than men overall, volunteers in sport, hobby cultural and arts organizations were equally divided between women and men. Table 4 of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report provides details of sport, hobby, cultural and arts volunteers by age, race, educational attainment, marital status, presence of children at home, and employment status.

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