While this interactive graphic from the New York Times has many fascinating aspects, one of the most thought-provoking for me is the trendline for volunteering.
According to the NYT, Americans spend about an hour a week on volunteer activities, including tutoring, coaching teams, working in a soup kitchen, ushering at church and handing out political fliers. That averages to less than 10 minutes a day, which peaks mid-morning and in the evening, and is about equal for men and women. Further striking is that the unemployed spend only slightly more time volunteering than the employed.
Is that the ‘busiest people get the most done’ syndrom, or a lack of awareness that volunteerism during unemployment could be a very satisfying, motivating and skill-building experience, or something in-between??
What I’m most struck by is that volunteerism is equal in time spent on the computer. So, with all the Facebooking and emailing that we hear about, people are spending an equal amount of minutes volunteering. Or has volunteering taken a cut to give over time to online activities?
And even more awe-inspiring is how to capture more of this time–online or otherwise–and engage the unemployed and employed alike in community improvement and volunteerism. Are we as organizations doing enough to combine online activities and volunteerism, are we making the best use of volunteers’ time? So many questions, so little time.