- By Angelica Wedell -
“Why do you think people should volunteer?” asks one grade-school student to another while discussing the significance of volunteering.
“Because it would make the world a better place,” the other replies.
Students Jennifer and Kimmo’s dialogue reflects the same sentiment on volunteering as data from The National Citizen SurveyTM (The NCSTM): that volunteering improves the quality of life for citizens and the community entire.
The NCSTM database includes responses on community quality of life from residents in hundreds of jurisdictions across the United States. The data, spanning 2 decades, provides a unique look at community volunteerism.
Overall, we find that 72 percent of citizens feel that there are good, even great opportunities to volunteer in their communities.
One citizen who regularly volunteers for multiple organizations is Keith Dameron, retired Colorado state patrol officer. He says that helping the community can lead people to longer, happier lives, “whether it’s volunteering at their church, or whether it’s volunteering at a food bank or whether it’s volunteering during disasters around the country.”
“There are so many things and so many groups that could use volunteer assistance to make them more effective,” Keith Dameron adds.
While most citizens recognize the positive impact that volunteerism has on the community, according to The NCSTM, only 29 percent of citizens say they volunteer once per month or less and 15 percent report volunteering twice per month or more.
“You don’t have to do it, but you’re choosing to do it. And I think that makes a difference,” says Tammy Dameron, who volunteers with neighborhood youth.
U.S. regions compete very closely for best ratings of opportunities to volunteer. Dividing the map into eight regions, the most eastern Northeast states have the highest ratings of opportunities to volunteer, with 77 percent of residents giving the “excellent or good” thumbs up. Residents living in the West region have given the lowest appraisal of volunteer opportunities, with a 69 percent rating of “excellent or good.”
U.S. regions also vary on the percentage of citizens who say they have volunteered at least once. West region states, at 49 percent, have the highest number of residents who have ever volunteered. At 36 percent, South Central region states report the lowest number of citizens who have volunteered.
Notably, citizens who volunteer show a more favorable, overall outlook on the volunteer opportunities within their communities than those citizens who do not volunteer. And yet the region with the lowest ratings for volunteer opportunities has the highest percentage of citizens who volunteer. The reason for this discrepancy may be that the more people volunteer, the more volunteering opportunities they want available in their city.
Volunteer Liaison with Whiz Kids Tutoring Micah Hainesworth feels that people who give their time and services for free deserve recognition. “Volunteers are an essential part that aren’t mentioned enough,” he says. “The volunteers do so much behind the scenes.”
No matter what organizations they choose or services they provide, volunteers make their communities better places to live. So here’s one small Thanks to all volunteers, from National Research Center.
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