Today we are releasing our annual report on Volunteering in America, the most comprehensive data on volunteering ever assembled.
The report found that last year saw the biggest single year jump in volunteering since 2003. More than 63 million Americans volunteered, an increase of almost 1.6 million over the previous year. These volunteers gave more than eight billion hours of service valued at nearly $169 billion dollars. That’s good news.
It means Americans have responded to these tough economic times by volunteering in big numbers. This spike in volunteering demonstrates the generosity of the American spirit. In difficult times, Americans are coming together – working with their neighbors to find solutions. Instead of turning away from problems, people are turning toward problems.
This report is also a challenge for us to work harder to engage more Americans more effectively in service. We know that service works – that it solves local problems. But it is not yet working on the scale we need, or in some of the communities where we need it most. Our data shows that 26.8 percent of Americans volunteered in 2009 through formal organizations. That’s good, but not good enough.
That’s ultimately why we put out this annual report – not just to take a pulse on volunteering, but to give nonprofit and government leaders a roadmap to increase it.
I encourage you to watch our video and visit VolunteeringinAmerica.gov to read the report. The site is easy to use and has a wealth of information on volunteering information for the nation, every state, and nearly 200 cities. It also has tools for national service programs, nonprofits, and government leaders to strengthen their volunteer efforts.
The growth in volunteers is good news for our movement. Expanding the number of Americans who serve their communities is very important. But we must also ensure that volunteers are having an impact. At the end of the day, it won’t mean a thing if we increase the number of volunteers, and a million kids are still dropping out of school each year, or 15 million people are still out of work, or the social and environmental fabric of our communities continues to decline. That means focusing on tough problems and better measuring results to make sure our efforts are making a measurable difference.
This report shows the depth of America’s compassion at a time of need. More important, it can help us unleash even greater citizen power to solve local problems. I hope you find it useful in your work.
All the best,
Patrick A. Corvington
CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service