Economic News Release

Volunteering in the United States, 2015

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Thursday, February 25, 2016                  USDL-16-0363

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                    VOLUNTEERING IN THE UNITED STATES -- 2015


The volunteer rate declined by 0.4 percentage point to 24.9 percent for the year 
ending in September 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
About 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least 
once between September 2014 and September 2015. 

These data on volunteering were collected through a supplement to the September 
2015 Current Population Survey (CPS). The supplement was sponsored by the 
Corporation for National and Community Service. The CPS is a monthly survey of 
about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment 
for the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. 
Volunteers are defined as persons who did unpaid work (except for expenses) 
through or for an organization. For more information about the volunteer 
supplement, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Volunteering Among Demographic Groups

The volunteer rate for men was little changed at 21.8 percent for the year 
ending in September 2015. The rate for women was 27.8 percent, down from 28.3 
percent in the previous year. Across all age groups, educational levels, and 
other major demographic characteristics, women continued to volunteer at a 
higher rate than men. (See tables A and 1.)

By age, 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds were the most likely to 
volunteer (28.9 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively). Volunteer rates were 
lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.4 percent). Teenagers (16- to 19-year-olds) 
continued to have a relatively high volunteer rate, at 26.4 percent. Over the 
year, the volunteer rates for 35- to 44-year-olds and 55- to 64-year-olds 
declined.

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Whites continued to volunteer at 
a higher rate (26.4 percent) than Blacks (19.3 percent), Asians (17.9 percent), 
and Hispanics (15.5 percent). In 2015, the volunteer rate showed little or no 
change for all of the major race and ethnicity groups.

Married persons volunteered at a higher rate (29.9 percent) in 2015 than 
those who had never married (19.9 percent) and those with other marital 
statuses (20.2 percent). Over the year, the rate declined for those with other 
marital statuses by 0.9 percentage point. In 2015, parents with children under 
age 18 were again more likely to volunteer than persons without children, 31.3 
percent versus 22.6 percent. The volunteer rate of persons without children 
under age 18 declined over the year, while the rate for parents with children 
under age 18 was little different from a year earlier.

Individuals with higher levels of education were more likely to volunteer than 
were those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 38.8 percent of 
college graduates with a bachelor's degree and higher volunteered, compared 
with 26.5 percent of persons with some college or an associate's degree, 15.6 
percent of high school graduates, and 8.1 percent of those with less than a 
high school diploma. The rate of volunteering declined for persons across all 
levels of educational attainment in 2015.

Volunteering by Employment Status

Among the employed, 27.2 percent volunteered during the year ending in 
September 2015. By comparison, 23.3 percent of unemployed persons and 21.4 
percent of those not in the labor force volunteered. Persons employed part 
time were more likely than full-time workers to have participated in volunteer 
activities--31.1 percent versus 26.3 percent. The volunteer rate was little 
changed among employed and unemployed persons but declined for those not in 
the labor force. (See table 1.)

Total Annual Hours Spent Volunteering

Volunteers spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities during the 
period from September 2014 to September 2015. Time spent on volunteer 
activities was similar for men (52 hours) and women (50 hours). Among those 
who volunteered, median annual hours spent on volunteer activities ranged 
from a high of 94 hours for those age 65 and over to a low of 36 hours for 
those under 35 years old. (See table 2.)

Number and Type of Organizations

Most volunteers were involved with either one or two organizations--72.0 
percent and 18.3 percent, respectively. Individuals with higher educational 
attainment were more likely to volunteer for multiple organizations than were 
those with less education. (See table 3.)

In 2015, the main organization--the organization for which the volunteer worked 
the most hours during the year--was most frequently religious (33.1 percent of 
all volunteers), followed by educational or youth service related (25.2 percent).
Another 14.6 percent of volunteers performed activities mainly for social or 
community service organizations. (See table 4.)

Older volunteers were more likely to volunteer mainly for religious organizations 
than were younger volunteers. Of volunteers age 65 and over, 42.7 percent served mainly
through or for a religious organization, compared with 25.4 percent of volunteers
age 16 to 24.

Across all levels of educational attainment, volunteers were most likely to 
volunteer for religious organizations, followed by education or youth service 
organizations. Volunteering mainly for religious organizations decreased as 
education increased, from 52.7 percent of those with less than a high school 
diploma to 29.9 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and higher. 
Volunteering primarily for educational or youth service organizations increased 
with educational attainment; 19.9 percent of volunteers with less than a high 
school diploma volunteered for educational or youth service organizations, 
compared with 26.3 percent of volunteers with a bachelor's degree and higher. 

Among volunteers with children under age 18, 45.1 percent of mothers and 36.8 
percent of fathers volunteered mainly for an educational or youth service 
organization, such as a school or scouting group. Volunteers without children 
under age 18 were more likely than parents to volunteer for most other types 
of organizations.

Main Volunteer Activity for Main Organization

Collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food was the activity volunteers 
performed most often for their main organization in 2015--11.3 percent of 
volunteers reported this as their main activity. Other activities performed 
frequently were tutoring or teaching (9.2 percent), fundraising (9.0 percent), 
and engaging in general labor (8.8 percent).  However, main activities differed 
among men and women. Men who volunteered were most likely to engage in general 
labor (12.3 percent); coach, referee, or supervise sports teams (9.3 percent); 
or collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food (9.2 percent). Female volunteers 
were most likely to collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food (12.9 percent); 
tutor or teach (10.6 percent); or fundraise (9.9 percent). (See table 5.)

The main types of activities volunteers performed also varied by educational 
attainment. Persons with a bachelor's degree and higher were more likely to 
provide professional or management assistance or to tutor or teach than volunteers 
with less education. Volunteers with less than a bachelor's degree were more 
likely to collect, prepare, distribute, or serve food or engage in general labor 
than those with at least a bachelor's degree.

Among volunteers in 2015, parents were more likely than those without children 
to primarily engage in activities often associated with children--including 
coaching, refereeing, or supervising sports teams; tutoring or teaching; and 
mentoring youth.

How Volunteers Became Involved with Main Organization

Between September 2014 and September 2015, the proportion of volunteers who became
involved with their main organization after being asked to volunteer (41.2 percent)
was about the same as the proportion who became involved on their own (41.6 percent)
--that is, those who approached the organization. Those who were asked to volunteer
were most often asked by someone in the organization. (See table 6.)


Table A.  Volunteers by selected characteristics, September 2011 through September 2015
(Numbers in thousands)                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                                      
                                             September 2011        September 2012        September 2013        September 2014        September 2015   
                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                      
            Characteristics                Number   Percent of   Number   Percent of   Number   Percent of   Number   Percent of   Number   Percent of
                                                    population            population            population            population            population
                                                                                                                                                      
                  Sex                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                      
Total, both sexes.......................   64,252       26.8     64,513       26.5     62,615       25.4     62,757       25.3     62,623       24.9  
 Men....................................   27,354       23.5     27,238       23.2     26,404       22.2     26,375       22.0     26,498       21.8  
 Women .................................   36,898       29.9     37,274       29.5     36,211       28.4     36,381       28.3     36,126       27.8  
                                                                                                                                                      
                  Age                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                      
Total, 16 years and over................   64,252       26.8     64,513       26.5     62,615       25.4     62,757       25.3     62,623       24.9  
 16 to 24 years.........................    8,578       22.5      8,776       22.6      8,466       21.8      8,469       21.9      8,415       21.8  
 25 to 34 years.........................    9,691       23.3      9,513       23.2      9,118       21.9      9,291       22.0      9,548       22.3  
 35 to 44 years.........................   12,566       31.8     12,527       31.6     12,098       30.6     11,783       29.8     11,490       28.9  
 45 to 54 years.........................   13,420       30.6     12,777       29.3     12,184       28.2     12,204       28.5     11,933       28.0  
 55 to 64 years.........................   10,449       28.1     10,619       27.6     10,191       26.0     10,331       25.9     10,213       25.1  
 65 years and over......................    9,547       24.0     10,301       24.4     10,558       24.1     10,679       23.6     11,024       23.5  
                                                                                                                                                      
 Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                                      
White...................................   54,432       28.2     53,778       27.8     52,685       27.1     52,201       26.7     51,986       26.4  
Black or African American...............    5,934       20.3      6,316       21.1      5,637       18.5      6,094       19.7      6,086       19.3  
Asian...................................    2,304       20.0      2,524       19.6      2,525       19.0      2,513       18.2      2,596       17.9  
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity............    5,151       14.9      5,635       15.2      5,838       15.5      5,982       15.5      6,165       15.5  
                                                                                                                                                      
       Educational attainment (1)                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                      
Less than a high school diploma.........    2,461        9.8      2,177        8.8      2,204        9.0      2,100        8.8      1,900        8.1  
High school graduates, no college (2)...   11,049       18.2     10,527       17.3     10,138       16.7     10,075       16.4      9,576       15.6  
Some college or associate degree........   15,946       29.5     15,832       28.7     15,562       27.7     15,494       27.3     15,102       26.5  
Bachelor's degree and higher (3)........   26,218       42.4     27,202       42.2     26,244       39.8     26,619       39.4     27,629       38.8  
                                                                                                                                                      
           Employment status                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                                      
Civilian labor force....................   45,249       29.1     44,974       28.7     43,162       27.5     42,780       27.3     42,563       27.0
 Employed...............................   41,881       29.6     42,083       29.1     40,401       27.7     40,497       27.5     40,701       27.2  
  Full time (4).........................   32,517       28.7     32,568       28.1     31,524       26.8     31,557       26.5     32,085       26.3  
  Part time (5).........................    9,363       33.3      9,515       33.4      8,877       31.7      8,940       31.7      8,616       31.1
 Unemployed.............................    3,368       23.8      2,891       23.8      2,761       24.1      2,283       24.0      1,861       23.3  
Not in the labor force..................   19,003       22.5     19,539       22.4     19,452       21.9     19,977       21.8     20,060       21.4

  1 Data refer to persons 25 years and over.
  2 Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
  3 Includes persons with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.
  4 Usually work 35 hours or more a week at all jobs.
  5 Usually work less than 35 hours a week at all jobs.
  NOTE: Estimates for the above race groups (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all
races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the
release of January data. Data on volunteers relate to persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities for an organization at any point in the year
ending in September. See the Technical Note for further information.



The PDF version of the news release

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: February 25, 2016
Recommend this page using: