States Volunteering the Most

March 22, 2019 by Sam Stebbins

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Volunteerism is a core American value. Every day, tens of millions of Americans give their time to service work in their community through a range of organizations, including sports clubs, youth groups, fire departments, and, most commonly, churches and religious organizations. Over 77 million people volunteered their time in 2018, up from 62.6 million in 2016. The value of this time is estimated at approximately $167 billion.

While nationally about 30% of adults volunteered last year, in some parts of the country, volunteering is much more common. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Corporation for National and Community Service — a federal agency that leads public service efforts across the country — to identify the states with the highest rates of volunteerism. Among the states on this list, volunteerism rates among adults range from 36% to 51%.

States where people are the most likely to volunteer tend to have much in common. For example, a recent survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that adults with higher educational attainment are more likely to volunteer. In every state on this list, the share of adults who have completed high school is higher than the 88.0% national share.

The BLS study also found that working adults are more likely to volunteer in their free time than the unemployed. On this list, only three states have a higher unemployment rate than the 3.9% national rate.

Click here to see the states volunteering the most.

To identify the states with the highest volunteer rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of state residents 16 and older who volunteered with an organization in 2018 from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The survey also included state data on historical volunteer rates, where individuals volunteered primarily, and the types of volunteering activities. We also looked at state educational attainment rates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. Annual unemployment rates are for December 2018 and came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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15. Vermont
> Volunteer rate: 36.0%
> Total number of volunteers: 185,306
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.6% (6th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $390.1 million
> Unemployment rate: 2.7% (5th lowest)

Working American adults are more likely to volunteer in their spare time than their unemployed counterparts. The high rate of volunteer participation in Vermont may be bolstered by a strong job market. Only 2.7% of the state’s labor force is out of a job, well below the 3.9% national unemployment rate. In 2018, 36.0% of 16 and over Vermonters volunteered, compared to 30.3% of Americans that age.

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14. South Dakota
> Volunteer rate: 36.3%
> Total number of volunteers: 240,638
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7% (12th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $457.8 million
> Unemployment rate: 3.0% (11th lowest)

There are more Midwestern states with high volunteer participation rates than any other region in the country. In South Dakota, 36.3% of residents 16 and older volunteered in 2018, higher than the 30.3% of Americans that age who volunteered nationwide.

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13. Maryland
> Volunteer rate: 36.3%
> Total number of volunteers: 1.7 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.9% (25th lowest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $4.3 billion
> Unemployment rate: 3.9% (21st highest)

Maryland has the highest volunteer rate among mid-Atlantic states and the 13th highest of any state. The more than 1.7 million volunteers in the state contributed 181.9 hours of service last year. Additionally, over half of all Maryland adult residents donated at least $25 to charity last year.

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12. Kansas
> Volunteer rate: 36.5%
> Total number of volunteers: 811,231
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.0% (17th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $1.4 billion
> Unemployment rate: 3.4% (20th lowest)

Areas where a large share of the population graduated from high school tend also have greater volunteer participation rates. In Kansas, adults are more likely to have a high school diploma than the typical American. This may partially explain the 36.5% volunteer participation rate among the state’s adult population in 2018, a greater share than the comparable 30.3% national rate.

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11. Wisconsin
> Volunteer rate: 37.4%
> Total number of volunteers: 1.7 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.4% (7th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $3.9 billion
> Unemployment rate: 3.0% (11th lowest)

Wisconsin is one of several Midwestern states with especially high volunteer participation rates. Adults in Wisconsin are most likely to volunteer in sports, culture, or the arts, and the work of the 1.7 million volunteers in the state in 2018 was worth an estimated $3.9 billion.

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10. North Dakota
> Volunteer rate: 37.4%
> Total number of volunteers: 218,019
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.9% (4th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $377.8 million
> Unemployment rate: 2.6% (4th lowest)

An estimated 37.4% of adults in North Dakota — over 200,000 people — volunteered in 2018. Nationwide, just 30.3% of adults did. Lower poverty levels are associated with higher volunteer participation rates. In North Dakota, only 10.3% of the population lives in poverty, well below the 13.4% national poverty rate.

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9. Idaho
> Volunteer rate: 37.9%
> Total number of volunteers: 493,161 volunteers
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.8% (20th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $1.1 billion
> Unemployment rate: 2.8% (7th lowest)

Nearly 38% of Idaho adults volunteered last year, compared to 30.3% nationwide. Churches and religious groups account for the largest share of volunteers in Idaho, followed by sports, culture, or arts organizations.

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8. Maine
> Volunteer rate: 38.7%
> Total number of volunteers: 425,346
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.3% (8th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $947.6 million
> Unemployment rate: 3.4% (20th lowest)

Last year, 38.7% of Maine’s adult population volunteered, the largest share in the New England region and the eighth largest share of any state nationwide. The work of the more than 425,000 volunteers in the state in 2018 was worth an estimated $948 million.

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7. Montana
> Volunteer rate: 38.8%
> Total number of volunteers: 323,866
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 93.0% (3rd highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $696.2 million
> Unemployment rate: 3.7% (24th lowest)

Nearly 39% of Montana residents age 16 and up volunteered last year, a larger share than in all but six other of states. Additionally, 28.1% of state residents did something positive for their neighborhood; 35.7% participated in local groups or organizations; and over half donated $25 or more to charity.

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6. Nebraska
> Volunteer rate: 40.2%
> Total number of volunteers: 589,714
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.3% (15th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $1.2 billion
> Unemployment rate: 2.8% (7th highest)

Nebraska is one of only six states where over 40% of adults volunteered in 2018. High rates of volunteerism generated $1.2 billion in value. Additionally, 54.5% of Nebraska residents regularly do favors for their neighbors, and 58.8% donated $25 or more to charity in 2018.

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5. Alaska
> Volunteer rate: 40.6%
> Total number of volunteers: 222,054
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7% (12th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $594.7 million
> Unemployment rate: 6.6% (the highest)

Areas where a large share of the population graduated from high school tend to also have greater volunteer participation rates. In Alaska, adults are more likely to have a high school diploma than Americans nationwide. This may partially explain the 40.6% volunteer participation rate among the state’s adult population in 2018, a greater share than the comparable 30.3% national volunteer rate.

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4. Iowa
> Volunteer rate: 41.5%
> Total number of volunteers: 1.0 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.1% (10th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $1.3 billion
> Unemployment rate: 2.5% (3rd lowest)

An estimated 41.5% of Iowa residents age 16 and up volunteered in 2018, a larger share than in all but three other states. The more than 1 million volunteers in the state contributed a total of 56.2 million hours of service last year.

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3. Oregon
> Volunteer rate: 43.2%
> Total number of volunteers: 1.4 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.0% (17th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $4.2 billion
> Unemployment rate: 4.2% (13th highest)

More than 1.4 million adult residents volunteered in Oregon in 2018, contributing nearly 178 million hours of services. Not only are Oregon residents more likely than most Americans to donate their time, but also they are more likely to open their wallets. A reported 62.2% of residents donated $25 or more to charity in 2018.

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2. Minnesota
> Volunteer rate: 45.1%
> Total number of volunteers: 2.0 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 93.1% (the highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $3.3 billion
> Unemployment rate: 2.9% (8th lowest)

About 45% of adults in Minnesota volunteered last year, dedicating a total of 137.2 million hours. Nationwide, volunteerism rates are higher among adults with high school diplomas. In Minnesota, 93.1% of adults have at least a high school diploma, the largest share of any state.

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1. Utah
> Volunteer rate: 51.0%
> Total number of volunteers: 1.2 million
> Adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.1% (10th highest)
> Total value of volunteer work in 2018: $3.2 billion
> Unemployment rate: 3.1% (12th lowest)

Utah is the only state where over half of all adults volunteered in 2018. The 1.2 million volunteers in the state contributed 133.9 million hours of service last year. A staggering 41.2% of volunteers in the state work with religious organizations.