Trends in volunteering: You're better than you think

“Doing good” is on the rise in communities across America. And there are lots of ways you can do it, including giving to a favorite charity, serving on a nonprofit board of directors, recycling and respecting a sustainable environment, and purchasing products that support a cause.

If “doing good” is something you like to do, it probably won’t surprise you that volunteering is up, too, with more than 1 in 4 adults reporting that they volunteer for at least one nonprofit organization, adding up to more than $173 billion in total value of annual volunteer service hours across the county.

According to recent studies, though, you’re probably doing even more volunteering than you think you are.  Surprised? Here’s why:

  • More than 138 million Americans (62.5 percent) engage in either formal or "informal volunteering" in their communities, which includes things like watching your neighbors’ kids, helping out friends in need with their grocery shopping, or house sitting for a colleague who is out of town.

  • Two-thirds (68.5 percent) of Americans share a meal with their family virtually every day.

  • Three out of four Americans (75.7 percent) see or hear from friends and family at least a few times a week.

Do these things count? You bet. The emerging definition of “doing good” celebrates the positive benefits of philanthropy for both the giver and the receiver. This means any activity that involves showing you care about other people is not only good for them, but also good for you. It’s called “prosocial behavior,” and studies have shown it elevates mood and improves overall health.

You’re so good! Feels good, doesn’t it?