A growing number of Americans say they are volunteering, according to a study by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.= Seventy-four percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed said they participated in some form of volunteer service in 2007, a 10-percent increase over the previous year.
Despite those gains, the survey found a discrepancy between the number of Americans who say are willing to volunteer, and those who do.
Seventy-four percent of people surveyed said they would be willing to serve a meal to a homeless person, for example, but just 13 percent had volunteered at a homeless shelter.
Meanwhile, 71 percent said they were willing to clean a park, but just 32 percent had done so.
“There is still a gap between Americans’ willingness to volunteer and whether they actually do,” said Paul Kelash, director of public relations with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
While a growing number of Americans may be volunteering, the study also found that more people say it is easier to give money to a charitable cause than it is to give time.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they found it easier to donate money, compared to 30 percent who said it was easier to volunteer. Sixteen percent said both were equally easy. Those numbers are largely unchanged from past years.
“People are being squeezed for time,” said Mr. Kelash. “If you’re trying to find the time to both volunteer and write a check, it’s often easier to write the check.” Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a nonprofit group that provides life insurance and other benefits to members, conducted the survey between November and December of last year.
Factors such as age, income, and education affect people’s attitudes toward giving time and money, at roughly the same rates as in past years, the survey found.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 were nearly three times as likely to favor volunteering than were people age 65 or older, and almost twice as likely as those between the ages of 55 and 64.
“Young adults have less disposable income, so they’re more likely to give of their time,” said Mr. Kelash. “That’s something we’ve seen consistently in our surveys.”
A larger proportion of people with higher incomes said they preferred to give money rather than time. Fifty-six percent of those earning $75,000 or more said making a donation was easier, compared with 45 percent of people earning less than $25,000.
Conversely, 47 percent of people with a post-graduate degree preferred volunteering to donating money, while 58 percent of people who had never attended college said they found it easier to give money.