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Quick Stats: So How Many People Skip Volunteering?

16 Feb. 2012 Posted by Denis Greene in Quick Stats

With the correlation between volunteerism and generosity, Church Development looks at just how many people are offering up their time.

In my last post on increasing generosity, I noted that volunteers donate over 11 times more to nonprofit organizations than non-volunteers. With that in mind, I want to look at another statistic from that same study, and how there’s still plenty of opportunity for new volunteers if they know it’s there:

“72% of adult Americans (18 years old and older) have volunteered at some point in their lives, and 43% are currently volunteering or have within the past 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) has never volunteered.”

While the study didn’t distinguish between the church and the secular world, I think anyone who’s followed statistics from the Barna Group knows that sometimes Christians don’t look all that different from the world around them, even when they should. Assuming the above statistics are true in your church, the following two points need to be considered again:

  • 57% have not volunteered in the last year.
  • 28% have never volunteered. Ever.

When I think of how much work it takes to even run a Sunday church service, let alone reach out to the community around us (both near and far), that’s a lot of untapped potential. While there are a number of reasons for the lack of volunteerism (we’ll get into that another time), one common reason is that many people, even those who show up in church every week, aren’t aware that there’s a need for them to participate.

While I often hear that old adage of 20% of people doing 80% of the work, I rarely hear the call for that 20% to step out and risk having a gap long enough for someone else to see and step in (even if those new volunteers need to be invited in). Thing is, apparently 57% of people aren’t getting that message in a way that translates to them participating in volunteerism either.

It’s time to extend the invitation again.

* * *

In the next couple of blogs, we’ll explore case studies on how Church Development helped congregations grow volunteerism, even for those who felt they were too busy to participate.

Denis Greene is the Founder and President of Church Development.  He is the author of The Stewardship System, Stewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship. Denis has helped over 200 churches across the USA raise more than $200,000,000. 

A complete list of Church Development’s services (including capital campaign management and consultation, feasibility studies, and year-round stewardship ministry programming) is available here.