The Role of Volunteering in Philanthropy

Nov 01, 2020
  • Description

Volunteers are an essential resource for a sustainable nonprofit community. For many charities, a steady supply of individuals willing to give their most valuable resource—time—is critical for their basic operations. And the value of ready volunteers has never been more evident than in 2020 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, the work that volunteers do has a clear and direct effect on the people and communities they are serving, but the benefits go beyond the meals served and care packages distributed. Hands-on philanthropy strengthens community bonds and gives donors an up-close look at the issues and challenges many of their neighbors are facing.

At a time when the importance of volunteers is felt more keenly than ever, this report provides insight into how individuals are engaging in volunteerism today. In what ways do donors give of their time, and how has the pandemic changed their approach? And how do their volunteer activities intersect and overlap with their financial support to charity?

To understand the full picture of volunteerism in America today, Fidelity Charitable conducted two separate research studies:

  • A March 2020 survey of 1,842 philanthropic individuals illustrates how donors in the general population think about and engage with their favorite causes as volunteers.
  • An August 2020 follow-up survey among 491 Fidelity Charitable donors depicts how volunteering changed amid the COVID-19 crisis.