The Importance of Volunteerism

Kao Jai Coffee

Last month the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their yearly report on volunteering in the US. The good news: about 62.6 million people volunteered during 2013. The bad news: this was a 1.1% decrease from 2012 and an all-time low in the last 11 years.

Even though this decrease is upsetting, the part of the report that stood out most was that my demographic, ages 16 to 24, volunteered the least. It wasn't a surprise that older generations volunteered the most out of all age groups, but this made me wonder why my generation finished last despite having the freedom and flexibility to volunteer during school breaks.

I'm a numbers person, so I began to take a closer look at the report to better understand why my generation is unable to compete regarding time spent volunteering. The answer, least part of it, lies in which activities volunteers spent time doing during the year. For those between the ages of 16-24, the second most prominent activity was fundraising or selling items to raise money.

Based on the value of a volunteer's time ($22.14/hr), the Millennial generation spent almost $450 million worth of time raising money to either go on trips or as donations given directly to organizations. Since I'm a recent graduate, I completely understand a student's tight budget and the need to find innovative ways to fundraise, but imagine if this time, worth millions of dollars, could be reallocated in a way that allows this generation to directly impact the communities that they are raising the funds for.

Without worrying about fundraising, this time could be spent addressing needs that my generation is passionate about: at-risk youth, rural or urban poverty, education, homelessness, and more. Using your gifts to serve not only benefits the community, yet it also proves that you can make a difference.

Continue to find unmet needs in your communities, create innovative ways to address those needs, and connect with us via the Kao Jai Fund so that we can attempt to use the $450 million worth of your time to directly serve others.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

- Margaret Mead

Kyle Ducharme


Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.