Employee & Family Resources

Trends in Volunteerism

Iowa ranks No. 2 for volunteerism

For the second consecutive year, Iowa has achieved the second-highest volunteer rate in the country, Gov. Terry Branstad announced Tuesday. According to the "Volunteering in America" report recently released by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 37.9 percent of Iowans devoted time to help others in 2010. Iowans devoted a total of 93.4 million hours to volunteering in 2010 and provided more than $2 billion in services to Iowa, according to the report. Among cities, Des Moines had the seventh-highest volunteer rate nationally, with 40 percent of residents volunteering.For more information on volunteering in Iowa or to view the complete report, go to volunteeriowa.org.

General Trends

  • Less interest and participation in traditional service groups and traditional volunteer positions
  • Shift to preference for shorter-term commitments (ie demand for clear boundaries, expectations, and endings to terms of service, less availability weekdays from 9:00am - 5:00pm)
  • Little tolerance for make-work projects or wasting volunteers’ time
  • Occasional and episodic volunteering
  • Expectation of choices from among diverse opportunities
  • Technology playing a greater role (virtual volunteering)
  • Family-unit volunteering
  • Baby boomers becoming an evolving potential volunteer pool
  • Desire for opportunities to grow personally and to learn widely usable information and skills
  • Youth/college students required to volunteer as part of academic programs (ie service-learning)
  • Expectations of an effectively managed volunteer system (including a screening process, orientation, training components, and greater attention to risk management issues)
  • Expectations of opportunities to make a real difference
  • A Practical Guide for Transforming Volunteers into Ministers, copyright © 1995 Jean Morris Trumbauer.


To learn more about current trends in volunteerism, please click on the following links:

Baby boomers dictate trends in every sector of society, and the non-profit community is no exception. Research shows that this generation plans on leading an active, healthy, engaged retirement, which spells good news for nonprofit organizations looking to attract a new, committed corps of volunteers. For an overview of the opportunities and challenges presented by these future volunteers see this article in the Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge newsletter.

Benefiting employees, corporations and non-profit agencies, it is little wonder that employee volunteer programs are being adopted by a growing number of companies, a key component of the larger trend of corporate citizenship. This Web pages looks at some of the issues surrounding employee volunteering and provides links to case studies as well.

Any discussion of trends must include a reference to the impact of technology. Virtual volunteering is quickly gaining popularity, enabling people to give back to their communities in a world where time is a precious commodity. ServiceLeader.org provides a very useful online guide for nonprofit organizations looking to implement a virtual volunteering program.

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