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New Report: Nearly 1 in 4 South Carolina Residents Volunteer; Two-Thirds Help Neighbors
As the holiday season highlights acts of kindness and opportunities to give back, a new federal study shows that 1 in 4 South Carolina residents volunteered through an organization and two-thirds helped their neighbors last year.
The annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America research, released on December 16 by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), shows that service to others continues to be a priority for hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians.
This year’s report found that 776,000 South Carolina residents (24.2 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2013. Altogether, South Carolinians volunteered nearly 96.7 million hours last year. The estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $2.2 billion, based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer’s hours.
In addition, 66.3 percent of South Carolina residents also engaged in informal volunteering in their communities, helping neighbors with such tasks as watching each other’s children, helping with shopping, or house sitting. Other civic health indicators from the report found that 92.5 percent of South Carolinians (well above the national average of 68.5 percent) have dinner with their family virtually every day, while 45 percent frequently talk with neighbors.
The research shows that the overall national rate of volunteering is slightly lower than the previous year yet remains strong and stable, and that Americans’ commitment to volunteering spans across generations. Key national demographic highlights of the report include:
- Americans ages 35-44 had the highest volunteer rate (31.3 percent) followed by those ages 45-54 (29.4 percent). One in five of those defined as “Millennials,” those of ages 16-31, (21.7 percent) volunteered.
- The age groups with the highest median hours among volunteers are ages 65-74 (92 hours) and those 75 and older (90 hours).
- The volunteer rate of parents with children under age 18 (32.9 percent) remained higher than the population as a whole (25.4 percent) and for persons without children under 18 (22.7 percent).
- The volunteer rate among young adults (ages 18-24) attending college was 26.7 percent, nearly double the volunteer rate of young adults not attending college (13.5 percent).
“Every day, volunteers of all ages are giving their time and talents to solve problems and make our nation stronger,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “Whether tutoring students or connecting veterans to services or responding to natural disasters, Americans are doing extraordinary things to improve lives and strengthen communities. As they serve others, volunteers help themselves by learning new skills, increasing job prospects, and even improving their health.”
Last year, CNCS released Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, research which found that unemployed individuals who volunteer over the next year have 27 percent higher odds of being employed at the end of the year than non-volunteers. Among rural volunteers and volunteers without a high school diploma, the likelihood increases by 55 and 51 percent, respectively.
As the federal agency for service and volunteering, CNCS funds the annual Volunteering Supplement to provide government and nonprofit leaders with in-depth information on volunteering and civic trends to help them develop strategies to mobilize more Americans to address local needs through service.
The research is part of the agency’s efforts to expand the impact of America’s volunteers on key challenges facing the nation. CNCS partners locally with the United Way Association of South Carolina (UWASC) to further increase volunteer engagement in South Carolina. Through UWASC’s designation as the state’s Commission on National and Community Service, the organization engages hundreds of residents in service through its AmeriCorps programs and also assists partner agencies in increasing their capacity to engage volunteers in their communities.