3 Out of 4 Americans Won’t Volunteer: Here’s Why!

why americans don't volunteer

According to a recent study, nearly 90% of Americans want to volunteer, however, only 1 in 4 actually do. Where is the disconnect there? Why is it that 75% of Americans don’t volunteer and the number has been gradually decreasing ever since September 11th of 2001?

Since this nation was born on the philanthropic work of others and has largely been built on a value of volunteerism, isn’t it strange we seem to be losing sight of it?

Below, we have given some common excuses we typically hear. This is not to say they’re not true, but rather point to a more positive response. We’re working toward figuring out why so many people don’t find the volunteer opportunities that are right for them.

The Reasons 3 Out of 4 Americans Don’t Volunteer

We hear these excuses all the time. . .

“I don’t even have time to fix my problems.”

We get it – nobody has everything figured out. We’re all working on personal problems. We encourage all of our volunteers to work on personal growth before volunteering themselves. It’s important.

Sooner or later, though, we have to realize that there will never be the ‘perfect time’ to volunteer. At some point, we’ve fixed ourselves, got ourselves in a good place, and that’s as good of a time as any to give back.

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“Volunteer schedules aren’t flexible enough for my schedule.”

This is true. Most volunteer schedules aren’t very flexible. And it’s great that you want to give your time, but that doesn’t mean the whole operation can run on your time.

We recommend not giving up. Just because one opportunity doesn’t fit your schedule doesn’t mean they all won’t. Keep looking for other opportunities because that’s all we can do.

“Most volunteer roles don’t interest me.”

Not all causes have to be for you, we get that. If you felt compelled to volunteer for every cause in the world, you’d quickly be overwhelmed and we don’t want that.

We encourage you to continue to look for the cause that brings you a feeling of hope and motivates you to volunteer your time. If you don’t see a role that fits your liking once you find your cause, perhaps you can contact the organization. A good volunteer coordinator will always listen to the needs and desires of their volunteers (and prospective volunteers).

“I’m not informed enough.”

Perfect! That’s why the organization exists. To support and spread information and awareness. As someone that doesn’t know much about the cause, you are a key asset to any organization as it gives them a first-hand look at what they need to do to reach a wider audience.

Your information to them is so valuable and, trust us, they’ll want to hear what you have to say.

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“I don’t know where to volunteer.”

We get it – walking into a food pantry or your local homeless shelter can be intimidating. Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable waltzing into an office and asking how you can help.

That’s fine.

Fortunately, technology is ever-advancing and there are ways to do all communication with organizations all over the world from the comfort of your bedroom.

We recommend reaching out to a number of organizations. Usually, you’ll be able to find a general information email address on an organizations homepage.

Get in touch with a few and ask questions! This will make you feel immensely more comfortable.

“No one asked me to volunteer.”

That’s a great point. Often times, organizations neither have the staff or resources to reach a wide audience. They don’t have the money for mass appeal or loud cries for help.

To this point, it’s going to take a little bit of self-initiative. If you continue to wait for someone to ask, it may never happen. But that doesn’t mean your help isn’t needed.

“It costs too much to volunteer.”

Volunteering isn’t free – you’re right. Or, at least, sometimes it’s not free. If you want to volunteer for free, there are, of course, opportunities for you. However, some of the more catchy opportunities such as volunteering with elephants in Thailand or other opportunities that often include travel, are not often free.

As a matter of fact, they can be quite pricey. This is due to expensive training programs and (normally) short turn-over periods. Here’s a tip: if you can volunteer for longer, it’ll usually be cheaper.

And, if you can’t, there are other ways to get involved that may not be feeding elephants but, rather, doing social media marketing for the elephant’s cause.

“It’s a waste of time.”

There are certainly volunteer programs that are not organized and can feel like a waste of time. We’ve spent months volunteering for hopeless causes that have made us feel more helpless than before we showed up to volunteer.

This is a sorrowful feeling we’d rather avoid, too. However, what you can do instead is intense research in any organization you are considering volunteering for. Find out all you can from their website, read their financial reports, ask them questions, and, when all else fails, try to get in contact with prior volunteers. Ask them about their experience with the organization.

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So, Why Don’t We Volunteer?

Our opinion? They aren’t being asked – and if they are, it is by the wrong people. There aren’t enough people stepping up to the plate to lead the volunteerism charge. As a people, we need structure and we like to be told what to do (generally).

The bottom line is we are still a very generous nation. We volunteer. We show up for those who need it. However, as our culture over time has dictated, we have to continue to push closer to our volunteering values or else it will get further and further away from us.

Are you motivated to see what opportunities are out there for you? Get ahold of us at contact@volunteer-opportunities.org and let us answer your questions.

If you are an organization looking to get your story out there, we are all ears and we want to help! Contact us at partner@volunteer-opportunities.org.

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