Youth Volunteering on the Rise
BOSTON, Ma, September 8, 2009 — An astonishing 73% of 12-17 year olds in the U.S., or 18.8 million youth, have engaged in a volunteer activity according to a recent study commissioned by The Volunteer Family and conducted by Harris Interactive®.
These numbers are especially impressive when compared to a 1996 study conducted by the Independent Sector, which established that 59% of 12-17 year olds had volunteered in the last year. This information also follows the recent Corporation for National Service study, which confirmed that the increase in young adult volunteers aged 16-24, makes up almost half of the overall increase in the number of volunteers nationally between 2007 and 2008.
“As adults, when we see young people listening to iPods, texting friends, or watching TV, they may seem relatively self-absorbed,” says Heather Jack, Founder and President of The Volunteer Family, whose website gets over 250,000 unique visitors a year from families and youth interested in finding a volunteer activity. “However, the reality is that young people are finding ways to give back in more ways than we could have imagined. They truly have the potential to become our country’s most philanthropic generation.”
The study found that the types of activities popular among all youth ages 8-18 include helping children in need (29%), advocating for the environment (27%), assisting the elderly, sick or disabled (21%), helping animals in need (18%), and supporting the homeless (14%).
“Today’s youth are choosing the causes they identify with and supporting them,” says Heather Jack. “They are joining causes on Facebook. They are planning their own fundraising events. They are encouraging their friends and families to help-out. They are embracing the traditional ideals of giving back, but they are finding new and unique ways of doing so.”
While the study found that volunteering behavior is higher for females (79%) than for males (66%), the behavior was relatively stable across age levels. The study also did not reveal a statistically significant difference between geographic locations. Community service requirements may play a role; the study showed that youth are volunteering more with their schools (41%) and their families (29%) than with their faith-based institutions (27%).