Study shows volunteer participation is down in Wisconsin

NE Wisconsin bucks the trend
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:32 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau and AmeriCorps survey, formal volunteer participation was 23.2% nationally, dropping 7 percentage points between 2019 and 2021. This is the largest decrease the survey has recorded since a version of it started in 2002. The state of Wisconsin showed volunteer participation fell 12.6% in the state from 37.5% to 24.9.

In Northeast Wisconsin, communities are known for being giving and for volunteering. The Volunteer Center of Brown County and Volunteer Fox Cities said they both have remained steady, seeing some decline during the pandemic but also some increase with people wanting to get involved and engage in their communities.

“If we haven’t stayed level, we’ve trended up a little bit as far as giving back,” explained Eric Sponholtz, the Executive Director for The Volunteer Center of Brown County. He adds that it’s typical to see ebbs and flows in participation but they have noticed similar factors mentioned in the study that have lead to the decline in volunteering nationally.

“I think covid is still a factor. I don’t doubt that especially for the older population that that factors in a little bit more too. Obviously when you talk about some of the bigger issues at play - inflation, just the ability to make a go for themselves, they need to focus on their families first and that might mean a little bit of a different look when trying to give back to an organization,” said Sponholtz.

“Right now people can’t hire people so now if I’m a working professional, I’m working extra hours so the time I had, I no longer have or I’m so tired that when I get home from work, I’m so tired that I don’t have the energy to give to something else,” said Brad Creighton, the Community Engagement Director for Volunteer Fox Cities.

He said their organization has seen a 15% to 20% increase in events by corporate sponsors and groups of volunteers. They did see decreases in some areas but otherwise remained steady and hope to continue to see an increase in people taking part volunteerism.

Click HERE to connect with volunteer opportunities in Northeast Wisconsin.