Austin drops down volunteering rankings

The Corporation for National and Community Service (the Americorps people) released new 2007 rankings on the rate of volunteerism in big cities across the country, and Austin dropped from the number-three spot to number five.

From what I understand, the U.S. Census conducts monthly surveys to keep its data fresh, and in September 2006, the survey asked questions about volunteering for the first time. So last year’s ranking of Austin at #3 came from a September 2006 Census survey. This year’s comes from the September 2007 survey.

So in 2006, these folks reported Austin having a 38.1% volunteer rate in 2006, with Minneapolis at number one with 40.5% and Salt Lake City just ahead of us with 38.4%.  

In 2007, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City topped the list again, but this time Portland and Seattle squeezed ahead of us in the ranks by just a fraction of a point.

What’s also interesting/deflating is that the volunteerism rate fell for everyone on the list. Overall, the nation dropped from 28.1% in 2006 to 26.2% in 2007. And Minneapolis topped out with 39.3% and Austin dropped to 35.3%.

Okay, so the difference between 2006 and 2007 numbers is slim. We fell a measly 2.6% points, so what? Well, the report also found that…

  • However, volunteer retention remains a significant issue. More than one out of every three volunteers (21.7 million) who served in 2006 did not volunteer in 2007.
  • In a typical week, recent volunteers spend approximately 15 hours watching television compared to 21 hours for former volunteers and 23 hours for non-volunteers (the difference of about one hour-long show per day).
  • The volunteer rate is highest among students who work between one and 10 hours a week (46.4%), while students who are not employed volunteer at a considerably lower rate (29.8%).

So the tasks are to make better volunteer experiences, get people to turn off their TVs (No, watching Oprah’s “Big Give” doesn’t count as philanthropy), and asking an overworked college student to pitch in.

Download the entire report for more interesting facts and figures about Austin and U.S. volunteering.

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