Study finds volunteering in Wisconsin dropped double digits
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A study from the U.S. Census Bureau and AmeriCorps found volunteerism across the country dropped by 7% from 2019 to 2021, the most significant drop recorded since tracking began in 2002. In Wisconsin, the dip topped double digits.
The study reports a nearly 15% decline in formal volunteering in the Badger State, which is volunteering at a non-profit, organization, or club. Executive director for the UW-Madison Center for Community and Non-Profit Studies, Mary Beth Collins, says reasons for the decline could range from financial reasons to a generational gap.
“I think there are some, you know, thoughts on that it might be a generational thing, and there may be a distancing from an awareness of how critical it is for us to stay aware and connected in the nitty-gritty of what really holds up our communities,” said Collins.
She adds people could have less time due to inflation requiring many to work more to cover the cost of bills or a lack of childcare. According to the study, Generation X makes up 27% of people volunteering, and found parents with children under the age of 18 were more likely to volunteer (30%) than households without kids (21%).
For volunteers at the Sun Prairie Emergency Food Pantry, the experience is gratifying because it is a tangible activity that immediately impacts their community.
“You’ll get so much more out of volunteering than you give; it’s very rewarding,” Kim Koss said. “I think we could always use volunteers. You always need hands on deck, and some days are busier than others.”
Staff at the pantry say they could use roughly 20 more volunteers to assist with the growing number of people the pantry helps. Gayle Parker has volunteered at the pantry for a decade and encourages people to step out of their comfort zones and lend a hand.
“I think it’s sometimes it’s just a lack of knowledge of what volunteering really is all about; most people who come here and try it love it and stay and sign up and do more volunteering,” said Parker.
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