As a result of the economic crisis, the nation is grappling with high levels of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and new fears about what the future holds. In the midst of this unsettling time, however, many individuals continue to reach out and serve their communities. They continue to volunteer, continue to help their neighbors, and continue to organize service projects within their communities. In fact, in 2008 alone, 61.8 million adults donated approximately 8 billion hours of service. This represents 26.4% of adults who volunteered through or for an organization to address pressing needs such as hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, environmental disasters, and other community concerns.
Today, over one-third of volunteers (35.5%) drop out of service each year, and do not serve with any organizations the following year. While new volunteers may be walking through the door of an organization, they may not stay, or they may be replacing an existing volunteer. This high rate of volunteer turnover stunts the productivity of nonprofit organizations as they focus on replacing volunteers instead of maximizing impact. This report examines the perceptions around volunteering and the barriers that may inhibit prospective volunteers (either new or returning volunteers) from service.