(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) December 3, 2009 – Americans who volunteer their time and skills to nonprofit organizations donate an average of 10 times more money to charity than people who don’t volunteer, according to a comprehensive national study on volunteering released today by the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund (“Gift Fund”) and VolunteerMatch.
The study found many Americans have a strong commitment to community service, with 43% volunteering in the last 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) of Americans, however, has never volunteered.
The study marks the start of an association between the two organizations. The Gift Fund is the third largest public charity3 in the United States and VolunteerMatch is a national nonprofit organization and the Web’s most popular volunteer resource4. Under a new initiative launching today, visitors to the Gift Fund’s website, www.CharitableGift.org, can now search VolunteerMatch’s award-winning network to discover volunteer opportunities with 73,000 participating organizations nationwide. The Gift Fund is the first national donor advised fund to have such an association with VolunteerMatch.
“This is exciting data that reveals a tremendous opportunity to tap the American spirit of volunteering and giving,” said Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Gift Fund. “Most Americans are motivated to volunteer to support a cause they care about. Yet, three in ten can’t find an organization that matches their interest. Together with VolunteerMatch, we’re offering a solution.”
“We always knew that volunteers pour their heart into making a difference, and now we know they put their money there too,” said Greg Baldwin, president, VolunteerMatch. “We’re proud to be working with Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund to help people put their time and treasure to good use.”
The volunteer study, conducted Oct. 21-25, 2009, looked at the community-service commitments and perceptions of more than 1,000 Americans nationwide. It reveals some key insights.
Volunteers Donate Significantly More Money to Charities than Non-Volunteers
The study found that the average amount of money donated to nonprofits by Americans who have volunteered in the past 12 months is $2,593 annually, more than 10 times the average $230 donated by Americans who have never had a volunteering experience.
Two-thirds (67%) of Americans who have volunteered in the past 12 months say they generally make their financial donations to the same organizations where they volunteer. And, those same active volunteers say they are more likely to increase their charitable donations in 2010 when compared to people who have never volunteered (32% of volunteers compared with 26% of non-volunteers).
Most Americans Have Volunteered
The study showed that 72% of adult Americans (18 years old and older) have volunteered at some point in their lives, and 43% are currently volunteering or have within the past 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) has never volunteered.
Many Barriers to Volunteering
The top reasons cited by Americans for not volunteering, the study found, were lack of time (46%), lack of interest in volunteering (32%), pressure from organizations to give more time than people want to give (32%), and the inability of Americans to find the right organization to match their interests (30%).
The Gift Fund study also found that six in 10 (60%) Americans say that charities have become too much of a big business and nearly as many (56%) believe that many charities have disorganized management. These attitudes are especially prevalent among people 55 years old and older.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to build greater awareness and understanding of how they manage their organizations by sharing insights into their funding structure, project management and volunteer coordination practices,” said Libbey. “Transparency through open and frequent communication with current and prospective donors should always remain a priority.”
More than a third (38%) of those surveyed say they want to see immediate results when they volunteer, while 44% indicate that if an organization cannot take advantage of their specific skills, they will likely volunteer elsewhere.
Changing Attitudes Toward Volunteering
Almost half (47%) of those surveyed say volunteers today are more motivated by what they get from the experience than by what they can do for others. Half (51%) are more likely to volunteer for an organization that has other volunteers in their age group. This attitude is especially prevalent among those under 35 years old (59%). Adults under 35 are more likely to volunteer in order to network professionally (33%) than adults 55 years old and older (14%).
Regardless of the motivation, the act of volunteering remains valued. Six in 10 (63%) Americans cite a renewed sense of the value and importance of community service within their network of friends and family. The study found that two-thirds (66%) believe “true philanthropy” includes the giving of both time and money, with one-fifth (19%) saying that every American should be required to give a certain percentage of both each year to nonprofits. When asked if volunteers should be provided an incentive, such as a gift card, to give of their time, the vast majority (84%) disagreed, believing there should be no incentive or reward attached to volunteering.
Top Reasons to Volunteer Include Supporting a Cause, Setting Family Example
Seven in 10 (72%) say supporting a cause they care about is among their top reasons to volunteer. Other top reasons include: because it’s the right thing to do (69%), to fill an unmet need in the community (54%) and to set an example for family and children (53%).
Almost one-third (31%) of the respondents say they are more likely to volunteer time given the recent economic downturn. Among those who volunteer, almost half (49%) do it monthly or more frequently. Nearly one-third (31%) volunteer a few times a year.
The mission and work of an organization is a big factor in whether people choose to support it (61%), as is the fact that an organization is serving local community needs (59%). Roughly half say the reputation of an organization and being able to use a specific set of skills are also key influencers on whether they volunteer.
Volunteering Habits Vary By Education, Age and Gender
Volunteering rates increase with education. Six in 10 (61%) Americans with post-graduate degrees volunteered this year, compared with 56% with college degrees and 36% with high school degrees. Middle-aged adults aged 35 to 54 years old are more likely to have volunteered this year (54%) than those younger (33%) or older (38%). Women are more likely than men to volunteer monthly or more often (54% for women vs. 43% for men).
Donations in 2010
While most people surveyed don’t plan to increase their charitable donations in 2010, nearly three in 10 (29%) do. Of those who expect to increase their donations, one in four (23%) plan to increase them by less than 5%, four in 10 (43%) by 5% to 10%, and 15% by more than 20%. Almost half (45%) of those who plan to increase their charitable donations say it’s because they’ve seen the good that donations can do.
Data for the Gift Fund’s survey was collected via telephone by Harris Interactive from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25, 2009. It included 1,005 respondents at least 18 years old.
About Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund
The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund was established by Fidelity Investments® in 1991. The purpose of the Gift Fund is to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple and effective. As of Sept. 30, 2009, more than 56,000 donors had recommended grants totaling more than $9.5 billion to over 130,000 nonprofit organizations nationwide since the Gift Fund’s inception.
VolunteerMatch is a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities by helping good people and good causes to connect. Its award-winning online service, www.VolunteerMatch.org, makes it easy to find a way to make a difference by location, expertise, or availability. VolunteerMatch provides many of the nation’s most recognized businesses, campuses and organizations with Web-based solutions to facilitate and track volunteer engagement at local and national levels. As the #1 ranking for “volunteer” on Google and Yahoo!, the VolunteerMatch network regularly welcomes more than 180,000 visitors each week and has become the preferred volunteer recruiting service for tens of thousands of participating nonprofits across the country.
Harris Interactive is not affiliated with the Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund.
The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund is an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program. Various Fidelity companies provide investment management and administrative services to the Gift Fund. The Charitable Gift Fund logo is a service mark of the Trustees of the Fidelity Investments® Charitable Gift Fund. Fidelity and Fidelity Investments are registered service marks of FMR LLC, used by the Gift Fund under license.
1 Survey conducted via telephone by Harris Interactive from Oct. 21 to 25, 2009. It included 1,005 respondents at least 18 years old.
2 Volunteers are defined as those who volunteer currently or have volunteered within the last 12 months.
3 The Philanthropy 400, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 2009 (based on contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations)
4 According to data from Google, MSN and Yahoo! as of October 2009.
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