Although this study was released in August 2009, the information gleaned from this survey is as relevant as ever.
A study released in August 2009 by the National Council on Citizenship (NCOC) indicates that Americans began reducing their volunteer hours when the unemployment rate hit 9 to 10 percent.
According to David B. Smith, NCOC executive director, “Prior recessions have prompted an increase in volunteerism, but only to the point that the unemployment rate reaches a “threshold.” Smith said, “People have moved from saying, ‘this is the time to rise up and help my community,’ to ‘times are really tough and I need to focus on making sure my family has what it needs to get through this hard time.'”
This study is in contrast to information reported earlier in the year by the Corporation for National and Community Service which indicated a rise in volunteerism.
Smith said, “Growing need usually encourages more engagement. But when economic pressures on individuals and organization become too great, people turn inward.”
- 72% of individuals surveyed said that they cut back on time spent volunteering.
- 66% said that people are responding to the current economic downturn by looking out for themselves.
- 19% said people around them are responding to the recession by helping each other more.
The economic crisis has triggered civic foreclosure,” said Michael Weiser, NCoC Chairman, “The good heart of Americans is still very evident, though, as they refocus on basic needs.” Even though they are disproportionately affected by the economic downturn, low-income Americans are still finding ways to give back. Thirty-nine percent of individuals with an income less than $50,000 reported helping others by providing food or shelter, compared to 27% of Americans with a higher income.