Research Friday: What Affects Hispanic Volunteering - Comparing Three Surveys in the United States

Lili Wang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
ASU School of Community
Resources & Development

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. This week we welcome Dr. Lili Wang as she provides insight into the Hispanic volunteering community.

With the increasing diversity of the American society and the current low level of formal volunteering among minority population, scholars and practitioners of the nonprofit sector are becoming increasingly concerned with the factors that promote volunteering, especially for minorities. Understanding the determinants of Hispanic volunteering and the types of volunteer work that interest Hispanics can help nonprofit organizations target their recruiting efforts and tailor their programs to the Hispanic population.

In 2010, the United States Census recorded over 50 million Hispanics in America, making the Hispanic population is the largest minority group in the States[1]. That number is projected to grow over 100 million by 2050. That means Hispanics' share of the nation's total population would nearly double, from 12.6% in 2000 to about 25% in 2050 (United States Census Bureau, 2004).

About 40% of Hispanics in the U.S. are foreign-born immigrants, and 70% are concentrated in seven states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, and New Jersey. Given the size and rapid growth of the Hispanic population, both native-born and immigrant, their participation in volunteering activities is important to the development of nonprofit organizations and the civil society in large.

The literature on minority philanthropy shows that minority groups in the U.S., including African Americans and Hispanics, typically participate or volunteer less in a broad range of formal social and political activities than non-Hispanic whites (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1996). The dominant status theory attributes low minority volunteering to their less prevalent social positions and roles within the socio-cultural system (Mesch, Rooney, Steinberg, & Denton, 2006).