Community Participation & Volunteerism

Community Participation & Volunteerism

In the 2006 and 2010 survey years (and in 2012 and 2014 for those not interviewed in 2010), NLSY79 respondents reported the time they spent volunteering for causes or organizations, along with the type of organization. Approximately 22.6% of respondents in 2006 indicated they had done at least some volunteer activity in the previous calendar year, with the percentage rising to 24.6% in 2010.

As can be seen in Table 1, the pick list of causes/organizations changed in wording between 2006 and 2010.

Table 1. Types of Volunteerism Organizations/Causes on Pick Lists in 2006 & 2010 Survey Years

Survey Year Organizations/Causes
Survey Year Organizations/Causes
2006 Hospital or Clinic
Political Organization
Charitable Organization
Youth Group
Civic or Community Action Group
Social/Welfare Organization
Independent Volunteer Work
2010 Religious or spiritual organizations
Activities supporting education
Supporting youth, neighborhood or community
Helping people in poor health
Helping people in need
Activities supporting arts and culture
Activities to help the environment
Activities supporting international aid or world peace

During the 2010 survey year, respondents also answered questions about any volunteer work organized through their regular workplace, including questions about whether any coworkers volunteered with the respondent and if the respondent got time off from work to volunteer. Respondents were also asked if any of these volunteer activities utilized skills acquired or used at work and if any of the activities helped the respondent learn about job openings or job-related opportunities.

In addition, respondents reported whether they made any philanthropic donations to various types of nonprofit organizations, including the following:

  • Religious or spiritual organizations
  • Organizations that serve a combination of purposes
  • Organizations that serve people in need
  • Health care organizations
  • Educational organizations
  • Youth, neighborhood or community organizations
  • Organizations for arts and culture
  • Environmental organizations
  • Organizations for international aid or to promote world peace

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: In rounds 9, 11, and 15-16, NLSY97 respondents answered questions about participating in unpaid volunteer work, including any activities aimed at changing social conditions. Respondents indicated the main reason for their participation: court ordered, required for a school or religious group, or strictly voluntary. The NLSY79 Young Adult survey gathered information about volunteerism each survey year. Within the Original Cohort surveys, the Young Women and Mature Women cohorts were asked questions about volunteer work during several survey years.