December 17, 2003 - USA Freedom Corps: About the New Volunteer Service Indicator

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By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 9:39 am: Edit Post

About the New Volunteer Service Indicator

About the New Volunteer Service Indicator

About the New Volunteer Service Indicator

Bureau of Labor Statistics and US Census Report "Volunteer Service by Americans Increases"

On December 17, 2003, for the second consecutive year the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor released data that measured the number of Americans, aged sixteen and older, who engage in volunteer service activities.
Those who responded to the survey participated with organizations such as schools, nonprofits, houses of worship and hospitals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has issued a press release and is making technical notes and data available online at The following is background information from the USA Freedom Corps that may be helpful to those reviewing the newly released materials.

What is the volunteer service indicator?

The volunteer service indicator is an annual national measurement of volunteer activities developed by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Presidentís USA Freedom Corps located at the White House. The Census Bureau collected the data through a supplement to the September 2003 Current Population Survey conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to establish the number of Americans engaged in volunteer service. That survey includes approximately 60,000 households nationally, and is designed to represent the civilian, non-institutional population of the United States. Basic labor force questions are regularly supplemented by questions related to a range of sociological and economic issues.

The September Current Population Survey included supplemental questions to assess the nature of volunteer service in the United States. Questions were designed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau with input from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the nonprofit organization Independent Sector, which provided valuable insights based on their experience in researching volunteer activity. The questions were designed to measure how many Americans are engaged in volunteer service, the frequency of their volunteer activity, the kinds of organizations with which they volunteer, the types of activities they choose, and for those who volunteered in the past - the reasons why they did not volunteer during the survey period.

What does it tell us?

Findings related to the baseline data are described with detail in the materials released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those findings indicate that 28.8 percent of individuals (about 63.8 million) age 16 and over volunteered through or for an organization between September 2002 and September 2003. The findings tell us that four million more Americans volunteered from September 2002 to September 2003 than in the previous year. The findings also offer information regarding what types of organizations and activities enjoy support from different segments of the population. Finally these findings indicate how much time people dedicate to volunteer work, including data showing that volunteers spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities during the period from September 2002 and September 2003.

Why was it developed?

Since the President issued his call to volunteer service and created the USA Freedom Corps to foster a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility, there has been a great deal of interest in measuring the impact of efforts to engage more Americans in volunteer service. Although sociologists have measured decreasing levels of civic participation over the past three decades, and organizations have worked to measure volunteer service trends, there is a well-recognized need for a reliable national measure of volunteer activity. Sociologists and researchers who have worked in this field have expressed their desire to use the new Bureau of Labor Statistics data as a rigorous baseline and to conduct research that builds upon the data collected this year and to be collected going forward.

The volunteer service indicator creates a new standard for evaluating on an annual basis long-term changes in volunteer activity according to a rigorous objective standard.

How is it different from other estimates of volunteer activity?

This new national measure of volunteer activity stands alone in the field. Efforts to measure this activity before the annual studies were begun in September 2002 are not comparable. The sample size used (60,000 households), nationally representative sample reached, and high response rates achieved (more than 90 percent) through the Current Population Survey cannot be matched by other organizations that have worked to measure volunteer service in the past. The Census Bureau also used questions designed for this purpose and methodology that may not be consistent with those used by other organizations.

Although the Current Population Survey was used to measure volunteer service activity in 1965, 1974, and 1989, survey design and technology have changed significantly since that time, and even those measurements cannot be appropriately compared with the new volunteer service indicator.

How will the results be used?

Current plans include collection of volunteer service indicator data in September 2004, and in subsequent years. As indicated above, the volunteer service indicator will allow evaluation of efforts to engage more Americans in volunteer service. The USA Freedom Corps and Bureau of Labor Statistics are releasing this data to nonprofit and community organizations, foundations, corporations, academics and the general public to help them understand trends in volunteer service and to use this information to stimulate more Americans to answer the President's Call to Service.

How can I get more information?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is making information regarding its Volunteering in America release available online at Members of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Labor Force Statistics can answer specific questions or respond to specific requests for additional information by phone at (202) 691-6378 or by email at

Members of the media may also contact the USA Freedom Corps at (202) 456-7381. The USA Freedom Corps also measures interest in national service programs and other volunteer programs supported by federal agencies such as the Citizen Corps programs.

What is the USA Freedom Corps?

President Bush created the USA Freedom Corps office at the White House in January 2002 to foster a culture of service, citizenship and responsibility for decades to come. Through the USA Freedom Corps, President Bush wants to help every American answer the Call to Service by strengthening and expanding service opportunities to protect our homeland, to support our communities and extend American compassion around the world. Interested volunteers can find information on the USA Freedom Corps or find volunteer opportunities in their communities at or by calling 1-877-USA-CORPS.

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Story Source: USA Freedom Corps

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; USA Freedom Corps; Volunteerism



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