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AmeriCorps Release New Volunteering and Civic Life Findings

Polly Roach | Published on 2/1/2023

On January 25th, AmeriCorps released its latest Volunteering and Civic Life in America research, providing comprehensive data on volunteering through organizations and informal helping, as well as charitable giving and other civic behaviors. The findings are based on a survey conducted by AmeriCorps and the US Census Bureau every other year; this year’s report covers volunteerism and civic engagement during the height of the COVID pandemic, from September 2020-2021.

National Findings

  • Formal volunteering: This data describes volunteering through organizations. An estimated 60.7 million people, or 23.2% of Americans, volunteered in this way from September 2020-2021. This represents a significant decline from 30% from the prior survey in 2019 – the biggest change reported since this research began in 2002.
    • Participation by women dropped 8 percentage points, while participation by men dropped 5 percentage points; women still volunteer via organizations at a higher rate than men
    • Generation X had the highest rate of formal volunteerism – 27%
    • Parents with children under 18 at home volunteered at a higher rate (30%) than people without children under 18 in their households (21%)
  • Informal Volunteering: This data describes assisting others outside of an organizational context, such as helping neighbors. An estimated 124.7 million people, or nearly 51% of Americans, informally helped others from September 2020-2021. This rate has remained relatively stable since the 2019 survey – despite challenges stemming from the pandemic.
    • Veterans helped their neighbors at a rate of 59% - 8 points higher than the general population
    • Boomers had the highest rate of informal volunteering – 59%
    • Parents with children under 18 at home volunteered informally at a higher rate (58%) than people without children under 18 in their households (49%)

Minnesota Highlights

  • We’re #3: In our state, 1,587,056 formal volunteers contributed 108.5 million hours of service through organizations between September 2020 and 2021 – service worth an estimated $3.5 billion. Minnesota’s position dropped to third place behind Utah (40.7%) and Wyoming (39.2%), after many years as the second most active state for organization-based volunteerism; 35.5% of Minnesotans volunteered through organizations during this time.
  • We support our neighbors: Minnesota’s rate of informal volunteering is in the top tier of states – more than 2,600,000 Minnesotans, or 61.9% of our residents, informally helped others during this period. That puts our state at #6, behind Montana, Nebraska, Maine, Delaware and Vermont.
  • We share our resources: 61.8% of Minnesotans donated $25 or more to charity during this period.

For those looking for volunteer rates for the Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington metro area, which typically led the pack on formal volunteerism for large metropolitan areas, I have disappointing news – AmeriCorps only provided these results for the top 12 metro areas in the country. Most recent US Census counts put the greater Twin Cities at #14 or #16, depending on what you’re looking at, so we don't have data (or bragging rights) on this anymore.

Want to do a deeper data dive? Check AmeriCorps’ Volunteering and Civic Life site – the source of the details above. Explore the findings there, including the whole dataset, and grab the resources below to share this up-to-date information on volunteerism with your colleagues, your partners – and your volunteers. 

For more background, you can also view AmeriCorps’ January 25th webinar discussing new findings - Volunteering and Civic Life during the Pandemic: The Path Forward. AmeriCorps CEO, Michael D. Smith, US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, and a panel of experienced volunteer engagement leaders shared what they have learned about community engagement, volunteer contributions and resilience during the pandemic, and provided their insights about how the Volunteering and Civic Life findings can inform our way ahead in a post-pandemic world.