Surprise! Fundraising is the top US volunteer activity
I was just re-reading the report released last January this time “Call to Service Assessment 2008: Community Volunteer Service Needs and Opportunities; July – September 2008” of Serve Rhode Island (the RI Commission on National and Community Service).
Among other things, I was struck by the data on where volunteers spend their time. According to statistics gathered by the US Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported here:
Main Activities of Volunteers (2005-2007)
Fundraise 29.7% (RI) 27.9% (US)
Collect/Distribute Food 19.5% (RI) 24.5% (US)
Professional/Management 16.6% (RI) 17.4% (US)
Tutor/Teach 15.7% (RI) 20.5% (US)
At first glance I was somewhat surprised that fundraising was at the top of the volunteer activity list given the number of complaints I hear from organizations about their inability to recruit volunteers to help them raise funds. (Don’t the choices of volunteer activities seem pretty limited.)
But when activities are matched against the top places where volunteers serve — overwhelmingly education and religious groups — the numbers made much more sense.
If you think about the legions of parents who raise money for their kids’ schools, or run events and raise money for their religious congregations, it’s not too surprising that fundraising might come out on top.
Unfortunately, what the study doesn’t tell us is the relationship of the volunteering to the amount of funds raised. Now that would be a number worth gathering.