States Volunteering the Most

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Skyline at Night Seattle, Washington
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15. Washington
> Volunteer rate: 30.6%
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.8% (16th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2015: $6.14B (8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.2% (tied – 10th highest)

Unlike most states, Washington residents are more likely to volunteer through an educational or youth service organization than through a church. Only about a quarter of state residents who volunteer do so through their church, while 28.4% are involved in youth services or education.

Low poverty rates and high educational attainment are common in areas with robust volunteerism. In Washington, only 12.2% of residents live in poverty and 90.8% have at least a high school diploma, compared to the 14.7% and 87.1% national rates.

Bismarck, North Dakota
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14. North Dakota
> Volunteer rate: 30.7%
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.5% (5th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2015: $429.2M (3rd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.0% (tied – 6th lowest)

North Dakota is one of a minority states where more than 30% of the 16 and older population volunteers each year. As is the case in much of the rest of the country, churches and religious organizations are the most popular channels for volunteerism in the state, accounting for some 37.1% of all volunteer participation. Like many other states with high volunteer participation rates, North Dakota has a relatively dense concentration of nonprofit organizations. Statewide, there are nearly 80 nonprofits for every 10,000 residents, more than double the national concentration of 34 per 10,000 people.

Lower poverty levels are associated with higher volunteer participation rates. In North Dakota, only 11.0% of the population lives in poverty, well below the 14.7% national rate.

Portland Oregon
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13. Oregon
> Volunteer rate: 31.4%
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.0% (20th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2015: $2.64B (24th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.6% (tied-25th highest)

A relatively high density of nonprofit organizations can often be an indicator of a high volunteer participation rate. In Oregon, where 31.4% of the adult population volunteers each year, there are 55 nonprofits for every 10,000 residents, far greater than the comparable national figure of 34.

In a majority of states, religious organizations account for the highest share of volunteer participation. Oregon is one of the outliers. The largest share of volunteers in the state dedicate their time through educational or youth services. Oregon is one of only six states nationwide where fewer than a quarter of all volunteers are mobilized through a church or religious organization.

horse rural farm with mountains and clouds in Montana
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12. Montana
> Volunteer rate: 31.6%
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 93.5% (the highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2015: $2.49B (24th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.0% (tied – 17th lowest)

Nearly 32% of Montana residents age 16 and up volunteer each year, a larger share than in the majority of states. Nationwide, high educational attainment rates and a dense concentration of nonprofit organizations are associated with greater volunteer participation. In Montana, 93.5% of adults have at least a high school diploma, the largest percentage in the country. Additionally, there are 95 nonprofit organizations for every 10,000 residents, the highest concentration of any state.

As is the case in many states, people in Montana are more likely to volunteer through their church or religious organization than through any other group.

Portland Fishing Harbour at Sunset, Maine
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11. Maine
> Volunteer rate: 31.6%
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7% (tied – 7th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2015: $845.0M (9th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.8% (12th lowest)

According to CNCS spokesperson Mary Love, homeowners are more likely to have a greater sense of attachment to their community, and an interest in its long-term prosperity. Consequently, areas with high homeownership rates also tend to have greater volunteer participation. Maine’s near nation-leading 71% homeownership rate likely drives up its volunteer participation. Each year, 31.6% of the state’s population volunteers, a larger percentage than in all but 10 other states.