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Federal report on volunteering and civic life holds good news about Maine

Published December 12, 2012

AUGUSTA, ME - The economy and gas prices may have been a challenge but Maine citizens remained committed volunteers according to the annual update, Volunteering and Civic Life in America, released Wednesday. Nearly 350,000 people in Maine contributed $1 billion in time and talent to local activities ranging from collecting and distributing food (26.7 percent of volunteers) to offering pro bono professional and management services to local programs (21.5 percent of volunteers). The rate of volunteering earned Maine a rank of 12th among all states and the District of Columbia - that is a move up of four places from the 2011 report.

graph from reportThere were several pieces of good news for Maine in the report:

"Maine people take pride in their reputation of being involved in community life," said Drew Matlins, chair of the Maine Commission for Community Service.  "At the same time, this report gives us valuable insight into our strengths and vulnerabilities as the population of our state ages. A billion dollars of pro bono work is an asset we need to ensure grows in size and impact. It takes the same cultivation as any local cash asset."

Governor Paul R. LePage praised the report's findings: "The evidence is in and it shows what we have always known - that Maine is a state of neighbors helping neighbors. No one entity or group or person can do this. I'm especially pleased to see that Maine's teenagers and young people are so committed to contributing in their communities."

On a nationwide level, the report shows the volunteer rate reaching its highest level since 2006.  More than 64 million Americans - or roughly one in four adults - volunteered approximately 8 billion hours, valued at $171 billion.  In addition, two out of three citizens nationally (65 percent or almost 144 million citizens) engaged in informal volunteering by doing favors for and helping out their neighbors, an increase of nearly 10 percentage points from last year.

"Volunteering and civic engagement are the cornerstone of a strong nation," said Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that administers AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and leads the federal effort on volunteering. "We have a prime example of the importance of people working together in the Northeast, where volunteers have really stepped up to support recovery and relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy. People working together and talking to each other help solve problems and make their communities better places to live and work."

The annual volunteering report has become a useful tool for elected officials, civic leaders, and nonprofit executives who recognize the not only the economic impact of an engaged community but also the relationship between citizen involvement in problem-solving and community resiliency in hard times. These officials and leaders use the report as a tool to develop strategies to mobilize more Americans in service to address local needs and problems.

The report is part of the most comprehensive study of volunteering and civic engagement across the country. The data is gathered annually through the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Selected supplements collect data on the volunteering and civic activities of Americans age 16 and older for volunteering and 18 and older for the civic supplement. Volunteers are considered individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization. 

The Corporation issues the report as part of its efforts to expand the reach and impact of America's volunteers, in partnership with the National Council on Citizenship, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Bureau for Labor Statistics. The report includes information for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., more than 50 major metropolitan areas, and more than 140 other cities including Bangor and Portland.

For an overview of Maine's volunteering and civic health data, visit the ranking section of  VolunteeringInAmerica.gov.

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy to resolve local problems.  

FMI CONTACT:   
Maryalice Crofton, Executive Director
207.624.7781
Service.commission@maine.govgraph of maine volunteer rates