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Young Volunteers Report and IYV Day 2002

2 December 2002 at 12:12 pm
Staff Reporter
As we look to celebrating International Volunteers Day (Dec 5th) a new US report on the lifelong impact of youth service has found adults who began volunteering at a young age are twice as likely to give time as they grow older.

Staff Reporter | 2 December 2002 at 12:12 pm


Young Volunteers Report and IYV Day 2002
2 December 2002 at 12:12 pm

As we look to celebrating International Volunteers Day (Dec 5th) a new US report on the lifelong impact of youth service has found adults who began volunteering at a young age are twice as likely to give time as they grow older.

The new report released by INDEPENDENT SECTOR (IS) and Youth Service America illustrates the strong impact of youth service on the giving and volunteering habits of adults.

‘Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service’ reports that adults who engaged in volunteering in their youth give more money and volunteer more time than adults who began their philanthropy later in life.

Forty-four percent of US adults volunteer and two-thirds of these volunteers began volunteering their time when they were young.

These adults are twice as likely to give their time as they grow older.

Sixty-one percent of adult volunteers aged 36 to 40 volunteered as youth, whereas 39 percent of adult volunteers did not. Households where adults volunteered as youth give slightly more than households that started their giving in adulthood.

For instance, households in the middle-income range of $US25,000 to $US49,000 give an average of $US1,124; households that were not active as youth give an average contribution of $US802.

‘Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service’ reveals that the community service ethic instilled in youth influences the giving and volunteering patterns of adults across every age group and income.

This report is part of the INDEPENDENT SECTOR Giving and Volunteering Signature Series. The series is made possible by the support of MetLife Foundation. The research for Giving and Volunteering in the United States is sponsored by The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the members of INDEPENDENT SECTOR.

Recent data shows an increasing trend of youth participation over the past 50 years in the US. Youth engagement rates first spiked during the early 1960s during the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration but declined during the Vietnam War and the late 1970s. The last 20 years have seen a marked increase in youth participation rates, with the years from 1992 to 1996 showing the highest rate of youth volunteering at 67 percent.

Sara Meléndez, President of IS says young people are truly an untapped resource. All Not for Profits—those that are devoted to youth issues and those that serve other causes—must fully harness the potential of youth service in every aspect of their programs.

Meléndez says that if we are to ensure that our communities have the volunteer and philanthropic resources for the future, we must start to instil the values of service in our young people today.

Youth involvement also encourages family volunteering in future generations. Nearly 60 percent of adults who also volunteered in their youth had parents who volunteered. And 70 percent of adults who volunteered as youth now volunteer with their children. These multigenerational households also give nearly twice as much. Contributing households where neither parents nor youth volunteer give an average of $US1,576. Households in which both parents and youth volunteer give an average of $US2,895.

Steve Culbertson, President of Youth Service America says the research draws an important connection between youth engagement, and lifelong volunteering and philanthropy, underscoring that an ethic of service cannot simply be turned on like a switch when a young adult turns eighteen .

Other types of youth involvement also predict adult philanthropic behaviour. Adults who volunteered, raised money, participated in student government, belonged to a youth group or were active in a religious organisation in their youth also display higher levels of giving and volunteering. The most involved youth, those who participated in all five areas, become the most generous adults, giving almost three times as much as others.

‘Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service’ gives recommendations to overcome barriers to youth involvement and discusses the implications of youth service for the Not for Profit sector in general.

‘Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service’ is based on analysis from INDEPENDENT SECTOR’s Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 2001 national telephone survey of more than 4,000 adults.

INDEPENDENT SECTOR is a Not for Profit, non-partisan coalition of more than 700 national organisations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups in every state across the nation. Its mission is to promote, strengthen, and advance the nonprofit and philanthropic community to foster private initiative for the public good.

Youth Service America (YSA) is a resource centre and premier alliance of 300+ organisations committed to increasing the quantity and quality of opportunities for young Americans to serve locally, nationally, or globally.

Copies of the ‘Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service’ report are available for US$19.95 from the INDEPENDENT SECTOR website

In Sydney, International Volunteers day will be celebrated with a breakfast launch of the International Year of Volunteers in NSW: Report and Recommendations and Employee Volunteering Guide – A resource for employers, employee volunteers and Not for Profit organisations.

Both the Report & Recommendations document and the Guide will be available for download in the near future from the NSW Governement’s Community Builders website www. .

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