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Catalogue Blog

Volunteering in America

By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

Over the past few weeks, Sherika Brooks and I have ventured “into the field” with a handful of Catalogue nonprofits –sorting books, promoting clean water, and serving meals. We are not alone in engaging in volunteer work in our community. Across the United States, over 60 million people spent time volunteering last year, contributing nearly $173 billion worth of value to their communities. In the District, about 30% of adults volunteer, and the same is true for Maryland and Virginia — which is just above the national average of 26.5%.

So who volunteers in America? Sherika and I fit the typical volunteer profile in some ways, but not others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, women volunteered more than men and middle- and older-aged adults are most likely to volunteer. (We broke the trend for adults in their early twenties, who are least likely to volunteer among all age groups.) Another interesting trend is that “individuals with higher levels of educational attainment engaged in volunteer activities at higher rates than did those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 42.4 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 18.2 percent of high school graduates and 9.8 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.” A majority of those who volunteer dedicate their time to one or two organizations, one of which is often religiously affiliated. Among all volunteers, the most common activities are fundraising and providing meals.

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