Resources / Nonprofits / National Volunteer Week: 2018 Volunteering Trends

National Volunteer Week: 2018 Volunteering Trends

Across the U.S., millions of volunteers pour their time and talents into helping community organizations. The main motivation behind their efforts: altruism.  

In a SignUpGenius survey to mark National Volunteer Week, 65 percent of respondents said the primary reason they volunteer is to impact their communities in a positive way. Every age demographic listed this as the leading reason for volunteering. (In contrast, only 6.1 percent help out “because someone asked me to volunteer.”) 

At SignUpGenius, the leading platform for volunteer sign ups, we see first-hand the impact volunteers make, whether it’s organizing a disaster relief drive after a flood or tornado or manning 5K stations to benefit cancer research.  

The survey showed how the life cycle of a volunteer progresses.   

Nonprofits and schools are the most popular organizations people volunteer with: About 57 percent of respondents helped at nonprofits/community groups, while about 56 percent volunteered in schools. 

Millennials and those with school-age children are most likely to volunteer in schools. Those ages 55 and older are more likely to volunteer in churches than younger generations.  

Young millennials (18-24) volunteer less than average, but older millennials (25-34) volunteer as much as older generations — except for those ages 65 and older. The older age group is most likely to include “power” volunteers, with 49 percent volunteering more than 10 hours a month. 

As people age (up until retirement), they also become more likely to say they would rather donate money than time to a favorite cause — though the majority still would rather volunteer at every age group. 

People ages 65 and older are the least likely demographic to volunteer in schools, preferring nonprofits and churches. While 46.9 percent still report the primary reason they volunteer is a desire to impact their community positively, 30.6 percent volunteer to “meet new people and build relationships” — significantly higher than any other demographic. 

The majority of people — 61 percent — say the main benefit of organizing volunteers online is that it’s “easier to communicate.”  

Full Results 

Which types of organizations do you volunteer with (select all that apply)? 
Nonprofit/community group: 57.4%
School: 56.4%
Church: 44.5%
Business: 11.7%
Other: 15.3% 

How much time do you spend volunteering on an average month?
10 hours or more: 35%
5-9 hours: 20.6%
3-4 hours: 22.1%
2 hours or less: 19.3%
0 hours: 3.1% 

What is the biggest benefit of organizing volunteers online?
Easier to communicate: 61%
Saves time: 24.2%
Get a better turnout for event: 12.9%
Saves money (1.8%) 

Are you more likely to volunteer your time or to donate money to your favorite causes?
Volunteer time: 77%
Give money: 23% 

What is the primary reason you volunteer?
I want to impact my community in positive ways: 65%
It makes me feel happier: 15.6%
I want to meet new people and build relationships: 13.2%
Someone asked me to volunteer: 6.1% 

Demographic Breakdown:
18-24
: 8%
25-34: 14.5%
35-44: 20.9%
45-54: 22.5%
55-64: 10.1%
65+: 15.1%  

Results by Demographic  

Which types of organizations do you volunteer with (select all that apply)?
18-24
: School (76.9%); nonprofit/community group (53.8%); church (26.9%); other (34.6%); business (3.8%)
25-34: School (66%); nonprofit/community group (40.4%); church (38.3%); other (6.4%); business (17%)
35-44: School (66.2%); nonprofit/community group (58.8%); church (47.1%); other (7.4%); business (10.3%)
45-54: School (67.1%); nonprofit/community group (61.6%); church (38.4%); other (6.8%); business (11%)
55-64: School (45.2); nonprofit/community group (59.7%); church (50%); other (16.1%); business (17.7%)
65+: School (20.4%); nonprofit/community group (65.3%); church (53.1%); other (12.2%); business (6.1%) 

How much time do you spend volunteering on an average month?
18-24: 10 hours or more (11.5%); 5-9 hours (30.8%); 3-4 hours (19.2%); 2 hours or less (23.1%); 0 hours (15.5%)
25-34: 10 hours or more (34%); 5-9 hours (17%); 3-4 hours (23.4%); 2 hours or less (23.4%); 0 hours (2.1%)
35-44: 10 hours or more (35.3%); 5-9 hours (17.6%); 3-4 hours (27.9%); 2 hours or less (17.6%); 0 hours (1.5%)
45-54: 10 hours or more (34.2%); 5-9 hours (20.5%); 3-4 hours (26%); 2 hours or less (19.2%); 0 hours (0%)
55-64: 10 hours or more (35.5%); 5-9 hours (22.6%); 3-4 hours (19.4%); 2 hours or less (21%); 0 hours (1.6%)
65+: 10 hours or more (49%); 5-9 hours (20.4%); 3-4 hours (12.2%); 2 hours or less (12.2%); 0 hours (6.1%) 

What is the biggest benefit of organizing volunteers online?
18-24: Easier to communicate (57.7%); saves time (15.4%); get a better turnout for event (15.4%); saves money (11.5%).
25-34: Easier to communicate (68.1%); saves time (27.7%); get a better turnout for event (4.3%); saves money (0%)
35-44: Easier to communicate (54.4%); saves time (30.9%); get a better turnout for event (14.7%); saves money (0%)
45-54: Easier to communicate (56.2%); saves time (27.4%); get a better turnout for event (13.7%); saves money (2.7%).
55-64: Easier to communicate (66.1%); saves time (19.4%); get a better turnout for event (14.5%); saves money (0%).
65+: Easier to communicate (67.3%); saves time (16.3%); get a better turnout for event (14.3%); saves money (2%) 

Are you more likely to volunteer your time or to donate money to your favorite causes?
18-24: Volunteer time (84.6%); donate money (15.4%)
25-34: Volunteer time (83%); donate money (17%)
35-44: Volunteer time (79.4%); donate money (20.6%)
45-54: Volunteer time (76.7%); donate money (23.3%)
55-64: Volunteer time (67.7%); donate money (32.3%)
65+: Volunteer time (77.6%); donate money (22.4%) 

What is the primary reason you volunteer?
18-24: I want to impact my community in positive ways (57.7%); it makes me feel happier (11.5%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (23.1%); someone asked me to volunteer (7.7%).
25-34: I want to impact my community in positive ways (70.2%); it makes me feel happier (12.8%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (12.8%); someone asked me to volunteer (4.3%)
35-44: I want to impact my community in positive ways (64.7%); it makes me feel happier (22.1%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (8.8%); someone asked me to volunteer (4.4%).
45-54: I want to impact my community in positive ways (72.6%); it makes me feel happier (15.1%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (6.8%); someone asked me to volunteer (5.5%)
55-64: I want to impact my community in positive ways (69.4%); it makes me feel happier (12.9%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (8.1%); someone asked me to volunteer (9.7%)
65+: I want to impact my community in positive ways (46.9%); it makes me feel happier (16.3%); I want to meet new people and build relationships (30.6%); someone asked me to volunteer (6.1%). 

SignUpGenius results are thanks to the participation of 326 survey respondents.