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%).
“The results of this survey indicate that youth volunteering appears to be a long-term and growing trend, rather than a short-term fad” says volunteer Lynne Harper. “This excites me and I believe that youth and family service is a movement which is here to stay.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive® on behalf of The Volunteer Family between June 17, 2009 and June 24, 2009 among 1,425 8-18 year olds. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology is available.
About The Volunteer Family:
The Volunteer Family (TVF) is a Massachusetts-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and facilitate family volunteering on a local and national level. TVF serves as a source of volunteer opportunities for nonprofit agencies, families, schools, faith-based organizations and corporations. The innovative programs they run have been recognized on numerous occasions by community leaders and in the national media. For more information, please visit the website at www.thevolunteerfamily.org.