- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

Volunteerism is on the rise as 5.6 million more Americans donated their time last year than in 2002, a recent study found, with women besting men in every state.

A federal study on state volunteerism, released yesterday by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), found that 65.4 million (28.8 percent) of American adults volunteered last year. In every region and state, women volunteered at a higher rate than men and married people were more likely to donate time and resources than single people.

The study also showed that more Americans 35 to 44 years old volunteered than any other age group.

The CNCS hopes states will use the report to do a “strong self-assessment” to determine the effectiveness of their volunteer outreach. Although the CNCS is a federal agency, Chief Executive Officer David Eisner said they “long ago realized that the most important work toward building momentum around service actually happens at the state and local levels.”

State patterns varied, with Utah leading the nation with the highest volunteer rate and intensity in every age group. The Midwest held the highest regional volunteer rate at 33.3 percent. However, the largest growth in volunteering comes from the South (2.4 million) and the West (2 million).

Last year, Americans contributed 8.2 billion hours of volunteer work, totaling nearly $150 billion in service. The greatest percentage of volunteers worked primarily through religious organizations. Top volunteer activities include coaching, teaching or mentoring (35 percent); fundraising (29.7 percent); and collecting, preparing and distributing food (26.3 percent).

The study also found that “youth who regularly attend religious services” are nearly twice as likely to be “regular volunteers” as those who did not attend any services. Young people from a family where at least one parent volunteers are almost twice as likely to volunteer as a youth with no family members who volunteer, and nearly three times as likely to regularly volunteer.

The District held the highest percentage of people volunteering in civic, political, professional or international organizations, the study showed.

Marcus Rosano, coordinator of communications and media relations for the National Capital Area Red Cross, said area volunteer rates tend to fluctuate. After events, such as September 11, and the recent tsunami and hurricanes, he said the Red Cross sees more of an “episodic volunteer turnover.” Many people from Virginia, Maryland and the District called the Red Cross hoping to be deployed to the Gulf Coast, while others asked how they could help with office work.

The CNCS is not daunted by a fluctuation of volunteers. No one was surprised to see involvement rise after September 11.

Mr. Eisner said a “fair amount of the growth” resulted from recent disasters, but he is optimistic that the CNCS can add 10 million more volunteers by 2010.

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