CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

The Benefits of Volunteering – What We Know

August 29th, 2011
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Our goal is to study how and why young people engage in a range of civic acts, including volunteering, belonging to groups, and voting, and what benefits result from engaging in those ways.

We recently received the following questions related to the benefits of volunteering:

a) Do young people who volunteer have higher academic performance?
We know from research by Davila and Mora that there is a positive link between community service (either for a course requirement or a strictly voluntary basis) and academic performance. Their findings indicate that civic activities (both curricular and non-curricular) have positive effects on high school academic progress across racial/ethnic groups. They also find that:

  • “Students who participated in school required community service were 22 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not and were more likely to have improved their Reading, Math, Science, and History scores.”
  • “Similarly, students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not.”

b)  Do young people who volunteer development and gain job/professional skills as a result?

Research has determined what civic skills are – these skills can be applicable to performing well in a profession. Skills such as communication, critical thinking and planning & organizing skills are examples We know that one way young people gain civic skills is from civic education opportunities. Research by Torney-Purta & Wilkenfeld has shown that students do indeed gain civic skills from interactive discussion in civic education curricula.

c) Do young people who volunteer engage in their communities in other ways?

Research by McIntosh & Muñoz suggests that community service among young people was positively related to civic behavior. CIRCLE has looked at this question more in depth this year, and will be coming out with more research in the fall.

These are three very important questions, all of which need additional research specific to non-curricular service/volunteering.

–Surbhi Godsay

Find more analysis in our 2016 Election Center. For regular updates in your Inbox about youth and the 2016 election, sign up for CIRCLE's monthly E-Update here.

3 Responses to “The Benefits of Volunteering – What We Know”

  1. mirel Says:

    My opinion is that volunteering, like other civil works are made ​​by people educated to do so. And if we talk about educated people, who care about their peers, then we realize that they are the ones that will succeed in life. There are people who do not always expect a reward. There are people trained to do what is good, do not expect others to do something for them.
    miere ecologica

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