Urban Wire A timely test about volunteering
Stuart Kantor
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It’s the time of year when all attention is riveted on the approaching holidays: family celebrations, office parties, gift swaps, and charitable donations. So much activity squeezed into so little time.

In fact, respondents in a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University gave about 24 percent of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And if you’re among those who enjoy donating digitally, 10 percent of online giving comes during the last three days of the year, according to Network for Good.

As you test your resolve not to dig into one more holiday plate with all the fixings, test your knowledge of a central ingredient of the charitable spirit: volunteering. The answers are at the end.

  1. How many adults volunteered at least once in 2013?
    • A. 41.7 million
    • B. 50.8 million
    • C. 62.6 million
    • D. 70.3 million
  2. On an average day in 2013, how many adults volunteered?
    • A. 15.1 million
    • B. 18.9 million
    • C. 22.1 million
    • D. 29.6 million
  3. How many hours did Americans volunteer in 2013?
    • A. 250 million
    • B. 8.1 billion
    • C. 25.6 billion
    • D. 100.2 billion
  4. Volunteers averaged 129 hours in 2013, down from 132 in 2012. Still, the estimated value of their efforts came to
    • A. $144.9 billion
    • B. $152.1 billion
    • C. $152.6 billion
    • D. $163.0 billion
  5. Volunteers spent the most time
    • A. working on social service and care activities
    • B. providing administrative help and other support
    • C. meeting and traveling
    • D. waiting
  6. Is volunteer time deductible, like a donation of cash or in-kind goods, on your tax-return?
    • A. yes
    • B. no
  7. In which way does the tax code favor volunteer labor?
    • A. nonprofit organizations do not pay payroll taxes on labor
    • B. the government protects volunteers from tort liability for ordinary negligence
    • C. volunteers have immunity from awards of punitive damages
  8. Who is most likely to volunteer?
    • A. a non-profit sector employee
    • B. a public-sector employee
    • C. a private-sector employee
    • D. a self-employed person
  9. Education and religious organizations make heavy use of volunteers. Compared with taxpayers who do not itemize deductions, itemizers give
    • A. more time to educational organizations and less to religious ones
    • B. more time to religious organizations and less to education organizations
  10. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden had the highest percentage of adults volunteering, according to a 2011 report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. They averaged
    • A. 35 percent
    • B. 45 percent
    • C. 55 percent
    • D. 65 percent


  1. C. That’s 25.4 percent of all adults, the lowest rate since 2002.
  2. A. That works out to 6.1 percent of adults.
  3. B. The figure was 8.5 billion in 2012.
  4. D. The US Department of Labor values each hour at $20.16.
  5. A. 27.5 percent of volunteer time. Waiting was a mere 0.1 percent.
  6. No. However, volunteers can deduct service-related expenses, such as travel to a volunteer site.
  7. A, B, and C. But, volunteers are not protected in cases of gross negligence or criminal acts.
  8. A. And hats off to the nonprofit worker, who also leads with the most hours.
  9. B. Itemizers give an extra 4.4 hours per month to religious organizations, but 2.1 fewer hours to education organizations.
  10. B. At the bottom were Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, and Romania, which averaged 10–15 percent. The 2011 volunteer rate in the US was 28.6 percent.

Much more can be found in “ The Nonprofit Sector in Brief: Public Charities, Giving, and Volunteering, 2014,” from the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, and in “Tax Policy and Volunteer Labor,” from Urban’s Tax Policy and Charities project.

Photo: Members of a church in Alabama organize a food drive. (AP Photo/Dave Martin).

Research Areas Nonprofits and philanthropy
Tags Nonprofit data and statistics Volunteering
Policy Centers Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy