To the editor:
Most volunteers don’t go out looking to be recognized, but all the time and effort Minnesotans pour into supporting so many worthy causes has been revealed in a report that should make us proud.
Minnesota is third in the nation with a 39.7-percent volunteer rate (1.6 million volunteers), according to the Volunteering in America report released Monday by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Minnesota trails only Utah (43.9 percent) and Nebraska (39.8 percent) among the 50 states and Washington D.C. Nevada is last with a 17.7-percent volunteer rate.
Midwestern states have the country’s top percentage of volunteers and our border states all finished in the top 10. The report concludes high homeownership rates and a solid educational system are factors leading to high volunteering rates. Meantime, lengthy commutes and high poverty rates lead to fewer volunteers. Minnesota beat the national average in each of those important categories.
The report shows Minnesotans donate the most time to religious (35.7 percent) and educational (24.9 percent) causes. The Twin Cities also was recognized for being tops among America’s 50 largest cities with an average annual volunteer rate of 39.3 percent.
The report also shows how volunteerism is evolving with our ever-shrinking globe; now there’s something called “voluntourism.” The report shows more than 3.7 million Americans volunteered more than 120 miles from their home last year. Voluntourism is especially high in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina; at least 24 percent of Mississippi’s volunteers and 20 percent of Louisiana’s volunteers last year were out-of-state residents. Another 1,056,000 volunteers served with organizations located overseas in 2007.
The complete report is online at: www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/index.cfm.