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New England Regional

Where the Volunteers Are

September-October 2009

Despite New England’s deserved reputation as an incubator of social innovation, the region’s volunteer rates do not fare well in a national comparison. “The analyses we’ve done show that New England has an aggregated lower percentage of citizen engagement and volunteerism than the rest of the country,” says Mal Coles,  Atlantic area manager for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that supports and promotes volunteerism. 

Utah, Nebraska, and Minnesota have the highest numbers of volunteers across the board, followed by Alaska and Montana. Rural communities still experience more interdependence than urban locales, reasons Robert Grimm, the corporation’s director of research and policy. Those in the Northeast, especially the eastern corridor, he adds, are more likely to “bowl alone.”

When cutting the data by age groups, however, New England states rank a little better. Of the six, Vermont boasts the most volunteers among baby boomers and those over age 65, followed by Maine and Connecticut, respectively, a 2007 corporation study shows.