Almost six in 10 adults in the U.S. volunteered time to a nonprofit or charity in 2004, a new study says, an increase of 9 percentage points over the previous year.
Of those who volunteered, three in four say their moral values were an important factor in their decision to volunteer, says the national survey conducted by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
People who attend religious services regularly are the group most likely report moral values as the driver behind their volunteerism, although most of those who do not attend services cite the same reason.
Adults ages 18 to 34 were most likely to volunteer in search of new experiences, while older people were most likely volunteer to meet new people.
Six in 10 Southerners report having volunteered within the past year, more than in any other region, while Westerners volunteered the most hours, averaging 20 a month, and Midwesterners volunteered the least, averaging 14 hours a month.
Overall, Americans averaged 16 hours of volunteer time a month, and more than one in 10 say they volunteer more than 30 hours a month.
Groups that, on average, volunteered the most time were people earning less than $35,000 a year, men, people regularly attending religious services, and people ages 18 to 34.
More than one in five people reported volunteering as a result of 9/11, with that number rising to one in four for Northeasterners.
“Americans give generously of their time,” said Brad Hewitt, Thrivent’s senior vice president for volunteer outreach. “The challenge for nonprofits, churches, schools and others is to manage that resource effectively.”