Volunteering is a selfless and often joyful act. Every day, millions of people worldwide volunteer for thousands of different companies and organizations. Many people see volunteering as a way of demonstrating what they stand for and consider valuable.
What are some of the major trends in volunteering, who are the volunteers, and what type of work they do? To answer these questions, we’ll need to look at some statistics.
Volunteers are crucial for charities and nonprofits, many of which would not survive without their volunteer staff’s dedication. Beyond nonprofits, many other organizations also benefit from volunteer work, including schools, nursing homes, medical care facilities, prisons, and government programs like animal shelters. Let’s take a look at some of the most surprising statistics about the people who dedicate their time to these causes.
The number of volunteers exceeds the number of unemployed people in six out of ten of the world’s largest countries. Moreover, it’s three times the number of people employed in financial services or mining industries, according to statistics about volunteering. The effect of their labor is equal to over 109 million full-time workers.
The next largest segment is the $1,000–$4,999 range, with 35% of people donating this amount. Moreover, 18% of people give more than $5,000, with 11% giving between $5,000 and $9,999 and 7% giving more than $10,000. On the other hand, approximately 9% of people donate $100 or less.
One of the major global volunteering trends is that most volunteer work happens outside of organized charities or businesses. It’s usually driven by people’s involvement in religious, social, or political groups. In non-industrialized countries, the gap between formal and informal volunteering is even bigger.
This calculation is based on hourly earnings released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and AmeriCorps data on volunteer hours. It’s estimated that volunteers contribute nearly $200 billion in value to US communities. The value of volunteer time in 2020 was up 4.9% from 2019.
Approximately one-third of adult Americans formally volunteer at least once a year. Moreover, 35.97% of the time spent volunteering is dedicated to fundraising. Finally, 34.22% of volunteering activity goes to collecting, prepping, or distributing food (34.22%).
Hunger and homelessness causes are the most supported in the US. The next leading cause for volunteers is health and wellness, with 13% of Americans donating to those causes. According to volunteering statistics, other top causes are religion-based and charities for animals and wildlife, with 12% and 10% of Americans supporting them, respectively.
Most of this time goes to the top four national volunteering activities: food collection and distribution, fundraising, tutoring, and general labor.
Approximately 64% of charitable givers in Australia and New Zealand donate via online platforms with a credit card—the highest percentage of people in the world that does so. Volunteer demographics are slightly different in the United States and Europe, where donors prefer to give via a bank or wire transfer, and about 15% of people donate via PayPal.
In the US, 57% of people do the same, according to statistics on volunteering. Australia and New Zealand have the next highest percentage of people who repeatedly donate—51%, and 44% of donors in Europe are enrolled in recurring donation programs. In Latin America, the number is 42%.
One surprising benefit of volunteering is that it can assist in job-hunting. Volunteers who’ve been unemployed are 27% more likely to find work. That’s especially true for unemployed volunteers without a secondary school diploma, who are 51% more likely than non-volunteers to find a job.
This statistic applies regardless of age, location, ethnicity, or the current job market. Resume statistics indicate that 91% of recruiters value soft skills as much as hard skills, and volunteering is an excellent way to develop soft skills in a real-world environment.
One of the most wonderful things about volunteering is that just about anyone can do it. There are so many opportunities and so many different ways to give back to the community that nearly anyone can find something to do, regardless of their skills or stamina. Let’s find out more about the demographics.
About 57% of volunteer work globally is done by women, and 59% of informal volunteering is done by women, as shown by global volunteering stats. Women are more likely to engage in activities like childcare or cooking for neighbors, grocery shopping for a friend, or helping with a local environmental cleanup.
In the US, 34% of women volunteer, compared to 26.5% of men—that’s 44.6 million women compared to 32.7 million men.
This fact may explain why the percentage of people who volunteer in the US is declining, according to recent volunteer facts. Since most volunteers are of working age and are also more likely to be parents with children under 18, it’s understandable that other obligations like work or childcare get in the way of volunteering.
Globally, Baby Boomers account for 37% of all volunteers, which is the largest group by about 10%. Next are Millennials, with about 25% of all volunteers globally, followed by Gen Zers, who make up 25% of the global volunteer population. Youth volunteering statistics are less encouraging because Gen Zers currently account for just 2% of all global volunteers.
Around 32% of all volunteers in America are involved in religious organizations. Approximately 25.7% of volunteers are volunteering for sport, hobby, or cultural groups, and 19.2% spend their time volunteering for educational organizations.
The Beehive State tops the list of altruistic US states, with 51% of the state’s population reporting volunteer work. Volunteer statistics by the state show that Minnesota is the second most engaged state, with 45.1% of volunteers. Oregon, Alaska, and Iowa are also in the top five. Florida has the fewest volunteers, with just 22.8% of residents volunteering.
Like many things, volunteering has changed dramatically in the last two years, primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look at the ways in which the virus has shaped volunteering trends.
Moreover, approximately 65% of organizations were forced to operate with reduced resources during the pandemic. This indicated a disruption not only to financial resources but also to volunteer resources.
According to volunteerism statistics, the percentage of virtual volunteering opportunities increased in 2020 from 32% to 51% as a result.
The increase of participation in virtual volunteering correlated with the increase in virtual volunteering opportunities. Volunteers seem willing to adapt their behaviors to continue the activity, indicating that volunteering is a valuable activity, and many see it as an important part of post-pandemic recovery.
Teamwork statistics show that online collaboration tools increase productivity by up to 30%, so perhaps virtual volunteering will boost volunteer productivity.
According to statistics about volunteerism in the United States, the biggest obstacle to volunteering during the pandemic was the fear of being exposed to the virus. People were also afraid of exposing others (19%). Furthermore, the fear of being exposed to the virus increased from 46% to 62% from March to October of 2020.
Although only 36% of Americans participated in volunteer activities pre-pandemic, almost three-quarters of them believe that the importance of volunteering will increase post-pandemic.
The devastation caused by the pandemic has inspired more people to volunteer. In fact, 85% of nonprofits report at least double the number of volunteer inquiries since the pandemic started.
People who get involved in volunteer organizations do so out of the desire to help people or animals, support a cause, or make the world a better place in some way. Volunteering statistics show that their efforts are incredibly beneficial to the causes they support, contributing nearly $200 billion and an average of 52 hours per person per year to their communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental effect on volunteer organizations as they were forced to operate with reduced financial and human resources. However, the upshot of coronavirus is that virtual volunteering opportunities have increased, and more people have been inspired to get involved with their communities post-pandemic.
In the United States, about 25% of the population volunteers. This number has decreased since the early 2000s when 28% of adults volunteered. Volunteers are most likely Baby Boomers and Millennials. On average, these people volunteer about 52 hours per year and are most likely to contribute to charities and organizations that deal with hunger and homelessness, health and wellness, faith and spirituality, and animals and wildlife.
Volunteers contribute nearly $200 billion to their communities annually, and their labor is valued at around $28.54 per hour. These are the most tangible benefits, but volunteers and other community members report a litany of other benefits. These include fostering a stronger sense of unity, involving marginalized people in community projects, and improving overall physical and mental health.
In the United States, the most likely person to volunteer is a woman between the ages of 34 and 55, with a child under the age of 18. This is true for both formal volunteering (volunteering through an organization) and informal volunteering (helping out friends and neighbors with things like childcare, meal cooking, and eldercare).
Men are less likely than women to volunteer in general, both formally and informally. The older generations—Baby Boomers and Gen X— are more likely than Gen Z or Millennials to volunteer.
The age group with the highest percentage of volunteers is adults between ages 34 and 55. This group can be further broken down into two groups: adults aged 35–44 and 45–55, comprising 31.5% and 30.8% of all volunteers. People in their early 20s are least likely to volunteer as only 18.8% do so.
Yes. People with higher levels of education volunteer more than those with lower levels of education. People with less than a high school diploma make up only 9% of volunteers in the US. On the other hand, individuals aged 35 to 54 with an advanced degree volunteer the most, accounting for 56.5% of volunteers in the US.
Women are more likely than men to volunteer, with almost 60% of all global volunteering performed by women. This is because women are more likely to engage in informal volunteer activities like childcare, cooking, or grocery shopping for friends. Additionally, men are less likely to volunteer for an unpaid task when women are present.
The short answer is 100%. All nonprofits are dependent on volunteer labor to some degree, though some nonprofits are more dependent on it than others. It’s also been shown that 80% of nonprofits that rely on volunteers don’t have the managerial knowledge to engage them properly. Project management statistics tell us that 70% of all projects fail, so a lack of good project management may be what hinders volunteer organizations.
The reliance of nonprofits on unpaid labor will not be going away any time soon. In fact, nonprofits are likely to need more volunteer labor post-pandemic, according to volunteering statistics.