It’s Not Just About Money: People Are Giving Less Time

On the heels of news that donations were down last year in the Combined Federal Campaign and the United Way, we learned last week that people are also volunteering less.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report in late February on rates of volunteering in the years 2009 through 2013. The report gives figures on volunteering within a range of demographic groups, all of which showed a drop in both the percentage of volunteers within the group and the number of hours they contributed.

Media outlets around the country picked up the story, and some of them turned the BLS numbers into helpful graphics, such as those in this article in U.S. News & World Report. The article goes beyond the most recent BLS report to show that volunteering peaked in the early 2000s. It dropped significantly in 2006 and has never recovered. In 2013 it was lower than in any year since the BLS began issuing these reports in 2002.

A few notable findings about 2013:

  • People who were employed volunteered at a higher rate than those unemployed.
  • Part-time workers volunteered at the highest rate of all.
  • Women volunteered more than men.
  • People aged mid-30s to mid-50s volunteered more than those in other age groups.
  • People with more education were more likely to volunteer.

BLS did not speculate on the cause of the drop in 2013. Would anybody out there like to offer a theory?