Americans Dedicated 8.1 Billion Hours to Volunteering Last Year

Americans are a very charitable bunch, according to new research released last month. The annual Volunteering in America study reported that 62.8 million adults volunteered almost 8.1 billion hours through organizations. Not only were the numbers high, their efforts had major impact with services being valued at nearly $173 billion.

The next generation of givers also stepped up to the plate last year. Generation X volunteers (born 1965-1981) devoted more time to service in 2010 than they ever have before, giving more than 2.3 billion hours -- an increase of almost 110 million hours over 2009.

Bruce Skyer, NKF COO, says “NKF was created 60 years ago as a voluntary health agency and volunteers continue to be the lifeblood of our organization. Whether it’s helping manage a kidney health screening, giving patients a voice in Washington, recruiting colleagues to join a Kidney Walk team or lending high level business expertise, our thousands of dedicated volunteers are bringing our mission to life in communities across America. Their commitment and hard work inspires others to get involved and support the cause.”

Other key findings from the Volunteering in America report:

Teen volunteer rates have stayed consistently higher from 2002 to 2010 than they were in 1989, possibly reflecting the spread of service-learning in schools across the country, the influence of parental volunteering and the rise of technology that makes it easier for teens to find volunteer opportunities.

The peak years for volunteering generally tend to occur from the mid-30s to early 40s.

The volunteer rate then declines as volunteers grow older, but the decline in volunteer rates in older adulthood has become less severe over time. Some researchers believe this reflects the fact that more Americans are staying healthier longer and that volunteering has become a more recognized strategy for staying healthy in older adulthood.