60.7 million Americans Volunteered in 2021, AmeriCorps Reports

Volunteer hours generated nearly $123 billion in economic value according to national service agency Volunteering and Civic Life in America research

Washington, DC, Jan. 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, today released its Volunteering and Civic Life in America research, the most comprehensive data on American volunteering and civic engagement assembled. Based on a survey conducted by AmeriCorps and the US Census every other year, the research includes data on volunteering through organizations, informal helping and other civic behaviors.

According to the research, Americans contributed countless hours to their communities through formal and informal volunteerism between September 2020 and 2021 during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 51 percent of Americans, or 124.7 million people, informally helped their neighbors at least once in the past year. Additionally, more than 23 percent of Americans, or 60.7 million people, formally volunteered with an organization, giving more than 4.1 billion hours of service with an estimated economic value of $122.9 billion.  

“AmeriCorps’ newly released Volunteering and Civic Life in America research underscores that we are in a defining moment of our time. While we saw the first ever decline in formal volunteering with organizations, we also saw that despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact, Americans support to their neighbors remained steady and tens of millions continued serving their communities,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “Whether volunteering one time or long-term, Americans can make a tremendous difference, and I am more confident than ever before about the power and potential of service to meet the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Formal Volunteering

Through local nonprofit and community-based organizations, Americans are afforded new ways to engage with their communities and foster a sense of constructive action, civic participation and belonging. Volunteers support American schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, food banks, and civic, nonprofit, tribal and faith-based organizations across the country.

Formal volunteering involves helping others through organizations. Below are the 10 states with the highest formal volunteering rates in the country in 2021.

State 2021 Formal Volunteering Rate 

Utah 40.7%
Wyoming 39.2% 
Minnesota  35.5% 
Maine  34.9% 
Washington, DC 34.2% 
South Dakota 34.2% 
Nebraska 33.9%
Kansas 31.5% 
Montana 31.1%
Missouri 30.5% 

Informal Helping

Despite the devastating impact of COVID-19, Americans continued to serve each other and their communities – giving their time and talent to help others at a time of unprecedented need. They helped neighbors by doing favors like watching each other’s children, running errands and other activities to lend a hand.

Informal helping involves assisting others outside of an organizational context, including doing favors for neighbors. Below are the 10 states with the highest informal helping rates in the country in 2021.

State 2021 Informal Helping Rate 

Montana 68.8% 
Nebraska 66.4% 
Maine 65.0% 
Delaware 63.9% 
Vermont 63.9% 
Minnesota 61.9% 
Utah 61.6% 
West Virginia 60.5% 
Iowa 60.3% 
Pennsylvania 60.1% 

Metropolitan Areas – Formal Volunteering and Informal Helping Rates

View formal volunteering and informal helping rates for the 12 largest metropolitan areas in 2021.

Metropolitan AreaFormal Volunteering RateInformal Helping Rate

New York Metro Area19.4%43.6%
Los Angeles Metro Area15.1%41.7%
Chicago Metro Area27.6%54.6%
Dallas Metro Area18.8%43.0%
Houston Metro Area20.1%48.5%
Washington, DC Metro Area27.9%46.8%
Philadelphia Metro Area28.7%57.8%
Atlanta Metro Area19.6%40.8%
Miami Metro Area14.0%35.5%
Phoenix Metro Area25.4%47.4%
Boston Metro Area25.4%57.9%
Riverside Metro Area9.0%44.2%

Volunteering and Civic Engagement in America complements a large body of other AmeriCorps’ research demonstrating a substantial return on investment of national service for both the government and the communities served, and improved employment outcomes and mental and physical health benefits for those who volunteer. AmeriCorps will release additional analyses of Civic Engagement and Volunteering Supplement data in the coming months. 


AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. Each year, the agency places more than 200,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term, or one-time volunteers. Learn more at AmeriCorps.gov.

AmeriCorps offers opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to be a part of the national service community, grow personally and professionally, and receive benefits for their service. Learn how to get involved at AmeriCorps.gov/serve.


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