Approximately a quarter of all American adults volunteered through an organization in 2015, while nearly two-thirds helped their neighbors in some manner, an annual report from the Corporation for National and Community Service finds.
According to the report, Volunteering and Civic Life in America, 62.6 million adults (24.9 percent) volunteered in 2015, providing nearly 7.8 billion hours of service valued at $184 billion (based on Independent Sector's estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour). In addition, more than 138 million Americans (62.5 percent) engaged in an informal volunteering activity such as watching a neighbor's children, helping an elderly person with shopping, or house sitting.
At the state level, Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Idaho counted the largest percentage of volunteers among their populations, while Minneapolis-St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and San Jose came in as the top large metropolitan areas for volunteering. The report also found that working mothers and Generation X were the most likely to volunteer their time; that millennials had the lowest rates of volunteering; and that volunteers were more likely than non-volunteers to talk to their neighbors, discuss politics or local issues with family and friends, and do favors for their neighbors.
According to CNCS, a growing body of research indicates that communities with higher levels of civic engagement have been linked to lower crime rates, improved health outcomes for aging adults, lower rates of mental illness, improved academic outcomes for children, improved employment outcomes for job seekers, and greater community resilience following a disaster.
"When we stand shoulder to shoulder to serve with others, we gain another perspective on the lives we share, while using our time and talents to build a stronger nation," said Wendy Spencer, the organization's CEO. "Each year, millions of Americans do extraordinary things as volunteers; this is America at its best. As we enter the holiday season, we are calling on all citizens to unite in service as a way to unify our country and keep our communities strong."