Expanding the Reach and Impact of America's Volunteers
For the past 20 years, AmeriCorps has collaborated with the US Census Bureau to collect data on volunteering and civic engagement to take the pulse of our nation’s civic health. The Current Population Survey Civic Engagement and Volunteering Supplement is the most robust longitudinal survey about volunteerism and other forms of civic engagement in the United States.
The 2021 survey covers volunteering and other civic behaviors from September 2020-2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data informs AmeriCorps’ Volunteering and Civic Life in America report, which examines national rates of organizational volunteering, helping others informally, charitable giving, and other civic behaviors. This research supports evidence-based decision making and efforts to understand how people make a difference in communities across the country.
Formal Volunteering and Informal Helping
Formal volunteering involves helping others through organizations and includes activities like supporting COVID-19 testing, immunization, and other public health efforts, conducting wellness checks on isolated seniors, supporting food banks, and providing virtual tutoring and mentoring to help students stay on track in school.
An estimated 23.2 percent of Americans or more than 60.7 million people formally volunteered with organizations between September 2020 and 2021. In total, these volunteers served an estimated 4.1 billion hours with an economic value of $122.9 billion.
Informal helping involves helping others outside of an organizational context, including doing favors for neighbors like house sitting, watching each other’s children, lending tools, running errands, and other things to lend a hand.
The rate of Americans informally helping others remained stable between 2019 and 2021. Nearly 51 percent of Americans or 124.7 million people informally helped their neighbors between September 2020 and 2021.
Benefits of National Service and Volunteering
Volunteering is good for your health, it promotes happiness over time and volunteers gain new skills and experiences. Check out more AmeriCorps research about the benefits of volunteering and how it can help build bridges across the nation.
- Bridging Differences through AmeriCorps Service
- Health Benefits of Senior Corps
- Highlights from the AmeriCorps Member Exit Survey: 2016-2020 Dataset
- Key Findings from the 2019 Current Population Survey: Civic Engagement and Volunteering Supplement (PDF)
- Spotlight on AmeriCorps Research Grantees
- Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work?
- National Service Programs Provide a Powerful Return on Investment
- How Does Participating in National Service Impact Employment and Professional Development?
- National Service Shapes the Civic, Academic, and Career Trajectories of Alumni
- National Service Provides Pathways to Economic Opportunity
- VISTA Supports Local Nonprofits and Improves Community Well-Being (articles by AmeriCorps Research Grantee, University of Texas Austin)