People hugging in a circle

The role of volunteering in philanthropy

Volunteers are an essential resource for a sustainable nonprofit community. For many charities, a steady supply of individuals willing to give their most valuable resource—time—is critical for their basic operations. This report illustrates how donors support charitable causes with both their time and money—and how the COVID-19 crisis has sharply impacted how volunteers are able to serve.

Depicting volunteerism today

Volunteers donate their time in a variety of ways to help their favorite organizations fulfill their charitable missions. 


of recent volunteers spend 10 hours or less volunteering each month, while 13% devote more than 20 hours monthly.


of volunteers spend time lending a hand to their favorite charities, performing activities like serving meals in a soup kitchen or participating in a neighborhood clean-up.

People working on construction

Giving time and giving money go hand in hand

The overlap between financial and volunteer support indicates that many donors are deeply invested in making an impact on the causes they care most about. Meaningful volunteer opportunities can build bonds that strengthen and enrich the donor-nonprofit relationship.

of charitable donors are also recent volunteers, indicating active and enthusiastic involvement in the causes they care most about.

of volunteers support a nonprofit by volunteering before they make financial donations. For these donors, volunteerism may be a way of evaluating a charity for future financial support.

of Millennials say they give more to the nonprofit they volunteer with than they would if they didn’t volunteer—compared to only 21% of Gen X and 12% of Boomers.

Volunteering and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically increased demand for many nonprofits’ services, while sharply diminishing their volunteer workforce and changing the ways that any remaining volunteers are able to serve. 


of volunteers have decreased the amount of time they volunteer or stopped entirely due to the pandemic.


of those who have continued volunteering during the pandemic have engaged in mostly virtual or remote volunteer activities. Before the pandemic, only 19% of volunteers did their work virtually.


of donors don’t know where they would go to find virtual volunteer opportunities.

Read more about how donors engage with their favorite nonprofits through volunteerism—and how COVID-19 changed everything.

Additional Resources

Who we are

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that offers one of the nation's largest donor-advised fund programs, making charitable giving accessible, simple, and effective.

Three ways you can help during the pandemic

Learn more about safely volunteering, advocating and increasing your support to help all nonprofits during the COVID-19 crisis.

VolunteerMatch COVID-19 Volunteer Opportunity Portal

VolunteerMatch’s database of volunteer opportunities includes ways to get involved both virtually or on-site in response to COVID-19.

*Please note that by clicking the above link you will leave the Fidelity Charitable website. Fidelity Charitable is not responsible for the accuracy of such information maintained on third party websites.