Volunteerism efforts continue in Utah
Utahns continue to volunteer in droves.
And when Utahns volunteer, they donate more hours than the average American.
The conclusions are based on the findings of the latest Corporation for National and Community Service survey.
The survey ranked Utah number one in volunteering in the United States.
Utah has retained the top spot in the national rankings for three consecutive years.
The survey, Volunteering in America 2008, is based on United States Census Bureau data.
The study measures volunteerism in 50 states and 75 cities during the latest three-year period as gauged by volunteering rates, intensity of volunteering, total hours donated and several different indicators, explained Utah officials.
According to the results of the recently released survey, Utah outperformed all regions across the nation and as the District of Columbia with 43.9 percent of the state's residents volunteering.
Utah's number of volunteers compares to a national average of 26.2 percent of the general population.
Utah also managed to capture the highest rating for the number of hours served by residents statewide, noted the officials.
Utah's 792,000 volunteers dedicated an average of 146.9 million hours annually between the period from 2005 and 2007.
The estimated economic value of that donated time is $2.9 billion annually.
"Utah has a long, proud tradition of volunteer service. We have nearly half of our people volunteering in some fashion throughout this great state," pointed out Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert.
The lieutenant governor oversees the Utah Commission on Volunteers.
Why Utah continued to fare so well on the list remains unknown. A significant amount of the state's volunteerism is faith-based, but that's true for the nation, explained the officials.
The report determined that mid-sized cities, particularly in the Midwest, have higher volunteer rates than large cities. The mid-sized cities also tended to have higher levels of education, lower levels of poverty and higher levels of homeownership.
The report highlights trends that public officials indicate are worth monitoring if Utah is to maintain and improve upon the state's performance.
Following national trends, the number of Utahns who volunteer has steadily declined from a 30-year high of more than 800,000 in 2003.
The economic downturn could drive volunteerism rates down further even as worsening social problems and concerns create more demand for volunteers, explained Utah officials.
America continues to experience a "leaky bucket" effect as people drop out of volunteering from one year to the next, noted the state officials.
"When family budgets are squeezed, volunteering is often the first thing to go. High gas and food prices also hurt charities through increased overhead," indicated LaDawn Stoddard, national service program manager at the Utah Division of Housing and Community Development.
"Nationally, though, the trend has been that those who volunteer are volunteering more hours, indicating a strong level of commitment," concluded the community development representative.