Judy Steffes reports that this will be the 30th anniversary of Germanfest in West Bend. It will also be the last one unless someone else picks it up. This comes on the heels of some other long-term events coming to an end. Judy asks some interesting questions:
All the change begs the question, why? Do the events run their course? Is change inevitable? Many of the civic groups and organizations talk about a severe drop in volunteers and new recruits. But in an era of technology where we’re not doing laundry on a rock or even getting out of the car to close the garage door – why does it seem we have less time to volunteer and give back?
It’s always worth asking whether the perception is reality. Overall in the U.S., volunteerism is pretty steady:
Statistics released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing volunteering at a 10-year low have some in the industry scratching their heads or backing away from the numbers, including a sponsor of the survey.
According to the BLS, the volunteer rate declined by 1.1 percent to 25.4 percent of the population for the year ending in September 2013. Approximately 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013.
When it comes to actual hours spent volunteering, “No matter what happens with rate, the total number total tended to be very, very consistent over time,” said Dietz. There was a large increase between 2010 (8.1 billion hours) and 2011 (8.5 billion) otherwise the numbers have been consistent, he said.
But that may still mean that volunteerism is down in pockets like West Bend. Perhaps it is because of a change in local demographics? The statistics bear out that people who are white, female, married, employed, have kids, or are more highly educated tend to volunteer more. Or could it just be that people are volunteering for different things now and volunteerism isn’t actually declining?