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Despite Economy Maine’s Volunteer Rate is on the Rise

June 15th, 2010

In prior cycles of American economic growth and hardship, volunteerism and charitable giving have trended together – rising during good times and shrinking or falling during hard times.  So that was the expectation during the current economic recession, especially with parallel decreases in home ownership and increases in unemployment rates.  American charitable giving did decline in 2008 for the first time in over 20 years[i] and then took another sharp drop in 2009, the steepest decline since 1974.[ii]  

However, the volunteer rate in the United States held steady, increasing slightly from 26.4 percent to 26.8 percent.[iii] Even among unemployed citizens, volunteering rose as 1.3 million unemployed people opted to volunteer.

In Maine, the number of people volunteering in 2009 rose 2.6% to 34.4%. 366,600 adult Mainers devoted time outside their regular family and work responsibilities to either community service or civic activities. Maine’s rate of volunteerism continues to be higher than the national average (26.8%) and maintains the state’s 33% average rate over the last three years. 

Maine ranks 4th in the country in terms of volunteer hours per resident with an average of 48.6 hours per resident. “Americans have responded to tough economic times by volunteering in big numbers,” said Patrick Corvington, the Corporation’s CEO. “What we’re seeing is the depth of the American spirit and generosity at its best.”

Unlike their older counterparts, service rates have declined among Maine ’s younger residents.  41% of Maine ’s K-12 school-aged youth devoted time either to community service, civic activities, or community-based service learning, down from 48% in 2005.  The drop in youth engagement may be due to a number of factors including the lack of opportunities for youth to volunteer in non-school settings. Among other age groups, the rate of volunteering is higher than the national average for all 50 states.

Key Findings in Maine: The bullets below are all based on an average using 2007 to 2009 data.

  • 51.9 million hours of service 
  • $1.1 billion of service contributed
  • In 2009 more than 8,800 people participate in national service each year through 36 national service projects and programs. This year, the Corporation for National and Community Service will commit more than $7,400,000 to support the national service initiatives (Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and other programs) in Maine.
    .

Key Findings in PORTLAND Maine: The bullets below are all based on an average using 2006 to 2009 data

  • 108,000 volunteers
  • 35.5% of residents volunteer - ranking them 14th within the 75 Mid-size cities
  • 36.1 hours per resident - ranking them 39th within the 75 Mid-size cities
  • $229.8 million of service contributed

Key Findings in BANGOR Maine: The bullets below are all based on an average using 2006 to 2009 data

  • 35,000 volunteers
  • 30.8% of residents volunteer - ranking them 31st within the 75 Mid-size cities
  • 58.4 hours per resident - ranking them 5th within the 75 Mid-size cities
  • $140.4 million of service contributed

About the Volunteering In America Report: The Volunteering In America report is a partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Bureau for Labor Statistics to collect volunteering data annually through the Current Population Survey’s (CPS) Supplement on Volunteering. The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households (approximately 100,000 adults), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Volunteers are defined as individuals ages 16 and over who perform unpaid volunteer activities for or through an organization. The report includes information for all 50 states,Washington, DC , and 198 cities, including 51 large cities, 75 mid-size cities, and 72 additional cities, based on Metropolitan Statistical Areas.  For more information, visit VolunteeringInAmerica.gov.

About the Maine Commission for Community Service: The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer sector by funding service programs, developing managers of volunteers, raising awareness of the scope and impact of the sector, and encouraging an ethic of service. To learn more about the Maine Commission for Community Service visit our web-site at www.maineservicecommission.gov.

[i] GivingUSA Foundation press release, “U.S.
charitable giving estimated to be $307.65 billion in 2008,” June 10, 2009. Available at http://www.givingusa.org/press_releases/gusa/GivingReaches300billion.pdf. [ii] GivingUSA Foundation press release, “U.S.
charitable giving falls 3.6 percent in 2009 to $303.75 billion,” June 9, 2010. Available at http://givingusa.org/press_releases/gusa/gusa060910.pdf [iii] The Corporation for National and Community Service, “Volunteering in America ,” (June 2010) Available at http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/