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How Many Americans Volunteer Their Time to Arts and Cultural Organizations?

Volunteering Time to Non-Profit Organizations in General

Each year Americans generously donate their time to assist nonprofit organizations in the delivery of essential services. According to data from the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/gv01main.html), 44.2% of the U.S. adult population (83.9 million people) volunteered for religious or secular organizations in the 12 months preceding the 2001 survey. These volunteers gave a total of 15.5 billion hours, which represents the equivalent of over nine million full-time employees, providing services valued at an estimated 239 billion dollars.

Americans are more likely to volunteer as their household income increases. Just over one in four (27.3%) Americans in households with annual incomes less than $25, 000 volunteered for a religious or secular organization in the year prior to being interviewed for the 2001 Giving and Volunteering Survey. In households with annual incomes in excess of $100,000, the corresponding figure was 55.5%. In the lowest income band (annual income less than $25,000) volunteers had worked an average of 21.6 hours in the month prior to interview; in the highest income band (annual income more than $100,000) the corresponding figure was 27.1 hours.

Volunteering for Arts, Culture and Humanities Organizations in the Past Month

Respondents to the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/gv01main.html) were asked about the type of organizations they had volunteered for during the past month. Religious organizations attracted, by far, the highest proportion of volunteers; 12.2% of American volunteers had donated time to a religious organization during the past month. The corresponding figures for secular organizations are significantly lower. For example, although educational nonprofits are ranked second in an ordered listing of organizations by the proportion of volunteers they attract, only 4.5% of volunteers had donated time to educational organizations a month prior to interview. The corresponding figure for arts, culture and humanities organizations is lower still; only 1% of American volunteers had given time to arts, culture and humanities organizations during the past month.

Graph: volunteering in the past month by organization type.

Volunteering for Arts, Culture and Humanities Organizations in the Past Year

Respondents to the 2001 Giving and Volunteering in the United States survey (http://www.independentsector.org/programs/research/gv01main.html) were asked to detail the types of organizations they had volunteered for during the past year. The survey found that Americans were more likely to donate their time to religious as opposed to secular nonprofit organizations. When organizations are ranked in terms of the proportion of volunteers they receive, there is a precipitous drop between the number of individuals who volunteered for religious organizations (43.4%) during the past year and the number who donated time to health organizations (18%), the next highest ranked category. Arts, culture and humanities organizations attracted a comparatively low proportion of volunteers (4.8%).

Graph: Volunteering in the  past uear by organization type. (Giving and Volunteering in the United States,  2001)

 

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