Poll Reveals 52% of Americans Began Volunteering During the Pandemic

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A recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Muse Health Hand Sanitizer revealed a huge surge in volunteering recently. 65% of respondents said the pandemic gave them a wake-up call to help out in their communities more.

The survey polled 2,000 Americans and found that 52% began volunteering for the first time due to the pandemic.

The most common ways Americans volunteered included:

Delivering food to essential workers (35%);
Volunteering to help the elderly or incapacitated maintain their homes (23%), and;
Volunteering at a food pantry (20%)

However, 70% of the respondents said they hesitated to volunteer due to safety concerns during the pandemic. They wanted to help out their communities but worried about getting sick in the process.

Safety concerns during the pandemic

Due to these responses, the survey asked questions about safety precautions that would make them feel more comfortable volunteering. The most common concerns among those who hesitated about volunteering included the following:

the availability of hand-washing and hand sanitizing stations (56%);
whether or not mask-wearing would be required at the site (50%) and;
whether or not social distancing would be mandated (44%)

“Understandably, many feel held back by uncertainty about safety situations at locations where they are interested in volunteering their time,” said Tara Merkle, Senior Director of Marketing for Muse Health Hand Sanitizer. “To avoid anxiety about supplies at job sites – which, in many volunteer and charity situations, may be extremely limited – be sure to bring your own bottle of hand sanitizer to help you and others stay safe.”

A third of the respondents said that people close to them gave them motivation to volunteer. 35% said the main reason they decided to help out was hearing about friends and neighbors in need. 17% said that watching their friends and neighbors volunteer made them want to follow in their footsteps.

How thousands are volunteering during the pandemic

The surge in volunteering may continue post-pandemic since the new volunteers say it’s impacted them positively. 73% said that they enjoyed donating money or items to provide for the community. However, they found more fulfillment getting out there and doing hands-on work. Nearly seven in 10 respondents reported that they hope to volunteer even more as vaccination rates go up.

Most common ways people are volunteering during the pandemic include:

Delivering food to essential workers (35%)
Volunteering to help elderly or incapacitated neighbors maintain their homes (23%)
Collecting items for food pantries (21%)
Volunteering at a food pantry (20%)
Donating blood (19%)

“It’s commendable and heartening to see so many Americans stepping up to lend a helping hand in their communities during this challenging time. That’s why we created the #HandsOnMovement – to celebrate the selfless individuals who are giving back to their communities,” added Tara. “Safety precautions like the use of hand sanitizer are going to be key to making volunteering a sustainable reality for as long as the pandemic ensures, so being prepared is critical.”

Other ways people helped others during the pandemic

Thousands of people all over the world donated their time and efforts by making masks for their communities. Some even made them for hospital workers who didn’t have enough supplies to go around. While the cloth masks can’t replace N95 respirators, they still help to stop the spread of the virus. People started Facebook groups to coordinate where to send the masks or give tips on sewing them for newcomers.

Others offered to buy groceries or essentials for elderly neighbors or anyone else who couldn’t leave their homes. Some caregivers even disinfected and wiped down their homes to ensure the virus couldn’t spread.

Churches organized to make care boxes for those in quarantine or elderly members of the community. Some of the kids from the churches even volunteered to walk dogs, shovel snow, or do other errands. Others bought food for their neighbors who had lost jobs or who had young children at home.

How else did Americans help each other?

In addition to volunteering, 56% of U.S. households engaged in charitable giving during the pandemic. According to a report from Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), 33% donated directly to charities, individuals or businesses. The report surveyed 3,405 people in the U.S. in May 2020. The percentage of people volunteering or donating to charities seemed consistent with previous disasters.

Even with the financial setbacks due to the pandemic, people in the U.S. still donated money to charity. However, some U.S. households helped out in unexpected ways. Almost half of the respondents, 48.3%, gave to charities indirectly during the pandemic.

People continued to order takeout from local restaurants to help keep businesses afloat that had to close their dining areas. Others bought gift cards from their favorite places or offered to pay for someone’s food or drinks in drive-thru lines. Some people even kept paying for services like housecleaning or daycare, regardless of if they used them or not.

While these examples don’t normally constitute charity, these acts of kindness helped some people maintain their livelihoods during the pandemic. Ordering takeout became a way not only to enjoy a meal but help businesses keep their doors open. Buying food for neighbors, in some cases, made a difference between life or death. Despite the tragedies that have come from the pandemic, people have come together to help like never before.

Final Thoughts: 52% of Americans started volunteering for the first time during the pandemic

The pandemic has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, but it’s also brought out the best in people. Communities everywhere have banded together, asking neighbors what they need to help them get by. People made masks for others, donated blood, volunteered at food pantries, and made meals for first responders. These are just a few examples of the generosity and kindness people have shown during the pandemic.

Volunteering benefits the person receiving help as well as the one giving it. We are all one, after all, and in times of need, that becomes more apparent than ever. Did you do any volunteering during the pandemic? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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