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Many Americans want to volunteer but don´t

Survey finds gap between those desiring to volunteer and those who actually serve

MINNEAPOLIS (March 8, 2007) – The good news? Nearly two in three American adults performed some type of volunteer service in 2006. The bad news? Many more wanted to volunteer but didn’t.

A new survey of 1,000 American adults by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans revealed 64 percent of American adults said they had performed some type of volunteer activity in 2006, but 86 percent said they would be willing to volunteer – a gap of 22 percent. The survey found even larger gaps between volunteer intent and action among common volunteer activities:

  • Sixty-five percent of American adults said they would be willing to serve meals to homeless people, but just 12 percent had done so during the past 12 months.

  • Fifty-one percent of adults said they would be willing to tutor or mentor at-risk kids but just 15 percent had done so.

  • Forty-eight percent of adults said they would be willing build affordable, decent housing for those in need, but just five percent had done so.

“Americans genuinely want to help others but often have trouble fulfilling their volunteer intentions,” said Brad Hewitt, senior vice president for Thrivent Financial who oversees volunteer programs for the organization’s nearly three million members. “Short-term volunteer opportunities that address real needs but are easy to access can help people move from good intent to action.”

Despite volunteerism’s nearly universal appeal, the Thrivent Financial survey revealed that most Americans find it easier to give money to support a charitable cause than to give their time. Fifty-three percent of respondents said money was easier to give, 30 percent said time was easier to give, and 14 percent said both were equally easy to give.

The survey also found that among American adults who volunteered last year, 64 percent expect to give about the same number of volunteer hours in 2007, 22 percent expect to volunteer more hours and 13 percent expect to volunteer fewer hours.

As a membership organization, Thrivent Financial creates, manages and funds outreach and volunteer programs that support congregations, schools, nonprofits and individuals in need. The organization’s members annually participate in thousands of community service activities through the organization’s 1,362 chapters (local volunteer groups). These chapters are led by member-elected boards that provide strategic direction, leadership planning and administration to support congregational and community volunteerism at the local level. In 2006, Thrivent Financial members conducted more than 75,000 chapter activities and gave more than 21 million volunteer hours in Thrivent Financial-sponsored events.

Telephone interviews were conducted for Thrivent Financial by Synovate TeleNation Research, Chicago, Ill., between Dec. 8-10, 2006, among a nationwide sample of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The margin of error for questions posed to all 1,000 respondents is +/- 3 percent.

About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, bank products and more. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial sponsors national outreach programs and activities that support congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit

Securities are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1665, 800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836) a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Member NASD. Member SIPC.


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Many Americans want to volunteer but don´t - Thrivent Financial