MLK Day 2022: Volunteering in the U.S., by the numbers | The Numbers Racket

Twenty-eight years ago, in 1994, the federally recognized holiday was reimagined into a day of service. It is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service

By: - January 17, 2022 6:30 am

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The third Monday of January is observed as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But for many civic-minded Americans, it’s a day of service and a time to give back to their communities in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. 

Twenty-eight years ago, in 1994, the federally recognized holiday was reimagined into a day of service. It is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. 

To commemorate the occasion, let’s look at volunteering in the United States. 

According to a 2016 report from the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the most recent year for which volunteering data is available, 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015.

The Helpers

Before the pandemic, approximately 63 million Americans 25 percent of the adult population – volunteered, according to data from the Nonprofit Source, a marketing agency helping nonprofits expand their online presence. 

Nonprofit Source notes that, on average, people spend 52 hours per year volunteering. 

When it comes to donating time to their favorite causes, Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers volunteer at similar rates. 

In fact, 80 percent of Baby Boomers, 72 percent of Gen Xers and 73 percent of Millennials volunteer, either locally or internationally. 

People between the ages of 35-44 were most likely to volunteer (28.9 percent), followed by people in the 45-54 age range (28 percent).

Women volunteer their time to their favorite causes at a higher rate (27.8 percent) than men (21.8 percent). 

Involvement

Of those who volunteer their time, 72 percent are involved with one organization, compared to 18.3 percent who are involved with two organizations.

The top four areas for volunteer activities are: 

  • Food Collection or Distribution, 24.2 percent
  • Fundraising, 23.9 percent
  • General Labor or Transportation, 18.8 percent
  • Tutoring or Teaching, 18.9 percent. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.

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