September 2008

Working mothers are more likely to volunteer in their communities than other adults, according to a recent survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“The typical volunteer is actually a married woman with two or more kids and a full-time job,” senior adviser Susannah Washburn told the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. About 26 percent of Americans age 16 and older volunteered in 2007, contributing 8.1 billion hours of volunteer time. The most popular causes were religious organizations (36 percent) and educational organizations like PTOs (27 percent).

On average, volunteers watch an hour less television each day than people who don’t volunteer. They are also more likely to engage in civic activities and to have more social interaction than non-volunteers.

“The research shows that volunteering isn’t as much about having the time to volunteer but creating volunteering opportunities that people want to make the time for,” says Robert Grimm, the organization’s director of research and policy.

More Americans are volunteering for the first time, yet more than one in three volunteers quit last year, according to the report. To retain volunteers, organizations need to give them meaningful work and show appreciation.