Every year, millions of Americans get involved in causes to make their communities a better place. We see it firsthand every day: those billions of hours spent by volunteers across the country create powerful, lasting impacts – both on volunteers and the causes they care about.
Whether it’s at a local food pantry or an animal shelter, volunteering is one of the most meaningful ways to make a difference in our communities. So, where are people spending the most time getting involved with volunteering? We looked at the most recent data from the Corporation for National and Community Service to find out.
With over half of its residents donating over 130 million hours to service, Utah ranks first among the states for volunteering. A majority of Utah’s volunteers were involved in religious causes while the most popular activity was tutoring or teaching. Together, residents contributed 134 million hours of service worth just over $3 billion.
Following closely behind with the most volunteers are Minnesota (45%), Oregon (43%), Iowa (42%), and Alaska (41%). With just 25 percent or less of residents volunteering, California, New York, Nevada, Mississippi, and Florida, landed at the bottom of the list.
But don’t think that a small ripple can’t have a big effect. While Florida has the fewest volunteers in any state at 23 percent, they have one of the biggest impacts in the country. Together, Floridians spent 341 million hours volunteering, more time than any other state in the top five and almost three times as much time as residents in Utah. The same goes for the value of their efforts: their service was estimated to be worth just over $8 billion, more than twice as much as any of the top five states.
California, with a volunteer turnout of just 25 percent, spent more time than any other state giving back (689 million hours) and had their service valued at a staggering $17 billion – also more than any other state.
The city doing the most good in America? Minneapolis, almost half of whose residents volunteer close to 100 million hours per year. Following closely are Rochester (46%), Salt Lake City (45%), Milwaukee (45%), and Portland (44).
Again, even a small drop in the bucket makes a difference. Take it from Baltimore: together, 38 percent of residents – the smallest number on the list – volunteered for more than 126 million hours. That’s more than any other cities in the top ten.
When it comes to getting involved with your community, age doesn’t matter. While Generation X boasts the most volunteers (36%), it’s Baby Boomers that put in the most time (2.2 billion hours). Millennials are also becoming more involved, as 28 percent volunteered for a total of 1.5 billion hours in 2017.
Regardless of age, volunteering is the easiest way to make a difference, even in cities and states that didn’t rank. When asked, 94 percent of our own volunteers, who are based in Illinois, said that they believe they are confident in their ability to make a positive impact on another’s life and 93 percent said the same about their community. But volunteering doesn’t just leave a mark on the community – it leaves a mark on the volunteer as well: 93 percent said they intend to talk to others about social injustice and 91 percent said they will continue to engage in activities that promote social justice in the future. If you’re interested in helping to bridge the gap in your own community, click here to learn more about our Chicago-based volunteer opportunities.
Methodology: To learn more about volunteering in each state, we turned to the Corporation for National & Community Service’s 2018 Volunteering in America data, the most recent available. There, we found state and city-level volunteering data. To learn about individual volunteer experiences, we turned to our own volunteer data, which was gathered from the I Grow Chicago Connecting Communities survey.
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