How Many People Skip Volunteering?

2/6/18 8:39 AM / by Denis Greene

With the correlation between volunteerism and generosity, Church Development looks at just how many people are offering up their time.

Volunteers donate over 11 times more to nonprofit organizations than non-volunteers. With that in mind, I want to look at another statistic from that same study, and how there’s still plenty of opportunity for new volunteers if they know it’s there:

“72% of adult Americans (18 years old and older) have volunteered at some point in their lives, and 43% are currently volunteering or have within the past 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) has never volunteered.”

While the study didn’t distinguish between the church and the secular world, I think anyone who’s followed statistics from the Barna Group knows that sometimes Christians don’t look all that different from the world around them, even when they should. Assuming the above statistics are true in your church, the following two points need to be considered again:

57% have not volunteered in the last year.

How Many People Skip Volunteering_

28% have never volunteered.


When I think of how much work it takes to even run a Sunday church service, let alone reach out to the community around us (both near and far), that’s a lot of untapped potential. While there are a number of reasons for the lack of volunteerism (we’ll get into that another time), one common reason is that many people, even those who show up in church every week, aren’t aware that there’s a need for them to participate.

While I often hear that old adage of 20% of people doing 80% of the work, I rarely hear the call for that 20% to step out and risk having a gap long enough for someone else to see and step in (even if those new volunteers need to be invited in). Thing is, apparently 57% of people aren’t getting that message in a way that translates to them participating in volunteerism either.

It’s time to extend the invitation again.

The key is episodic volunteer opportunities, so people can get their feet wet without making a commitment to serving on a year-long committee as their first interaction!

Plan your opportunities, publicize them on social media, in your bulletin and on your website. Select a friendly volunteer organizer to welcome all new volunteers and give them a positive experience. There are tons of opportunities to get volunteers involved in a capital campaign, but ongoing stewardship ministry efforts could really use support as well.

If you haven't strategically planned the use of volunteers and community-building opportunities into your annual stewardship activities, take a look at our Strategic Guide and Calendar to explore best practices for growing the culture of generosity at your church.

stewardship strategic plan

Topics: Research & Statistics, Stewardship Ministry, Capital Campaigns

Denis Greene

Written by Denis Greene

Greene began working in the nonprofit development field in 1981. He founded Church Development in 1992 after a near-death experience motivated him to integrate his faith, education and skills in work that served the church and the virtue of stewardship. He has helped over 200 churches across the USA raise more than $200,000,000. He is the author of The Stewardship System, Stewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship.

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