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Maine, Portland Area are Leaders in Volunteering, Report Shows

November 17th, 2016

AUGUSTA, ME – According to the Maine Commission for Community Service, the Volunteering and Civic Life in America data report, released November 15, 2016, shows Maine citizens continue to be very active volunteers. While the state’s population is the oldest in the US, Maine teens (16-19 year olds) are the most likely age cohort to volunteer (39.3 percent). Their participation rate moved up five percentage points since the 2015 report.


Across all age groups, nearly 350,000 people in Maine contributed over 40 million volunteer hours. Maine’s volunteer rate is in the top twenty amongst all states and the District of Columbia – nearly one third of Mainers volunteer.


Another Maine age group that demonstrates a high volunteer rate is college students. Their rate of volunteering ranks  fifth (38.3 percent) in the nation. As Maine’s employers face the prospect of an aging workforce, strengthening ties between young people and their communities is critical. Volunteering not only helps students meet new people and grow their networks, it also connections them to the place and fosters roots or ties to the places they serve.


Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director of the Maine Commission for Community Service noted, “Volunteering is a two way street. These young adults, like all of our volunteers in Maine, provide valuable services to our community. At the same time, the volunteers improve opportunities for future employment, hone skills, and create stronger ties with neighbors. We’re encouraged by the healthy habit of volunteering that young people are developing in Maine.”


There were several data points of interest in the report:

  • Volunteer retention - the ability of a volunteer program to keep someone recruited until they've completed the assignment – is strong in Maine. The state ranked 13th in the country. The Maine Commission for Community Service and its volunteer center partners have worked hard in this area, providing leaders of volunteer programs with the management skills to support volunteers' success.
  • The Portland-South Portland metro area ranks number five (38.4 percent) amongst mid-sized cities for volunteering. Maine doesn’t usually break into too many city lists or rankings due to small population, but the state is in great company on this list.
  • Amongst volunteer activities, there is an increase in the share of individuals “collecting, preparing, or distributing” food in the 2016 report. Unfortunately, Maine remains first in New England for individuals experiencing hunger. Volunteers have been critical to the work of food banks, food pantries and others that alleviate hunger in Maine.


On a nationwide level, the report shows that about one in four Americans volunteer.  More than 62 million Americans - volunteered approximately 8 billion hours, valued at $184 billion. 

"When we stand shoulder to shoulder to serve with others, we gain another perspective on the lives we share, while using our time and talents to build a stronger nation," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that annually compiles the data.  "Each year, millions of Americans do extraordinary things as volunteers; this is America at its best. As we enter the holiday season, we are calling on all citizens to unite in service as a way to unify our country and keep our communities strong.”

The report is part of the most comprehensive study of volunteering and civic engagement across the country. The data is gathered annually through the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Selected supplements collect data on the volunteering and civic activities of Americans age 16 and older for volunteering and 18 and older for the civic supplement. Volunteers are considered individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization. 

The Corporation issues the report as part of its efforts to expand the reach and impact of America's volunteers, in partnership with the National Council on Citizenship, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Bureau for Labor Statistics. The report includes information for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., more than 50 major metropolitan areas, and more than 140 other cities including Bangor and Portland.

For an overview of Maine's volunteering and civic health data, visit the ranking section of


The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy to resolve local problems.