Maine’s Volunteer Force Shrinks 2% in 2010
Published August 9, 2011
AUGUSTA – According to the annual “Volunteering in America” study released today, the number of volunteers in Maine dropped 2% -- from 34% to 32% -- between 2009 and 2010 while, across the nation, the rate shrank only 0.5%. The loss of 5,000 volunteers means Maine’s ranking among the 50 states and District of Columbia slipped from 15th to 16th place.
Despite the change, the Maine Commission for Community Service says there is good news to be found in the report. There was a 7% jump in the rate of volunteering among teens that resulted in Maine ranking second among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The increase is seen as a really positive sign for communities. “One of the research findings over the past 15 years has been the conclusion that volunteer service connects people in very significant ways to their communities. It holds them in particular places,” said Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director for the Commission.
Another detail shows the value of Maine volunteers’ in-kind labor is over $1 billion even after the changes in 2010. Crofton noted “One would think the loss of 2 million hours of service would impact the state’s rank in ‘Hours of Volunteering per Resident’ but, since Mainers give so much more of their time than the national average, the state is still ranked fourth on that point.”
The federal report does not shed any light on the factors behind the drop in volunteering in Maine. For that reason, the Commission for Community Service has set up a poll on its website (MaineServiceCommission.gov) and would like to hear from citizens who cut back or stopped volunteering last year. “Maine volunteering was unusually strong during the recession and is just now showing change,” said Crofton. “We could speculate about the role of gas prices, work, changes in volunteer programs as nonprofits adapt to funding cuts – but it would only be guessing. We’d like to hear from the people directly and see if there is any trend that could be addressed.”
“Volunteering in America” also includes profiles of 75 mid-sized cities among which are Bangor and Portland. Bangor saw a 5% expansion in the number of residents volunteering and a $25 million growth in the value of volunteers’ time due to just over 9% increase in the number of hours contributed.
Data for Portland show a very minor increase in the number of volunteers (0.2%) but nearly 10% expansion in the amount of time city residents devote to volunteer service. As a result, community organizations receive over $25 million of in-kind labor from residents.
The federal report along with state profiles is released each summer by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The data is collected by the Census Bureau when it conducts the fall Current Population Survey.
For local information on volunteering and community service, contact one of the following Volunteer Generation Fund grantees. They are expanding volunteer engagement in community issues in their regions.
United Way of Eastern Maine, Bangor
Maine Seacoast Mission, Cherryfield
Friends in Action, Ellsworth
United Way of Tri-Valley Area, Farmington
United Way of Greater Portland, Portland
United Way of Mid Coast Maine, Bath
443.9752 ext. 14
United Way of York County, Kennebunk