Volunteer Supplement Sample Notes

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Since 2002, the Current Population Survey Volunteer Supplement Survey has measured the population's participation in volunteer activities. The supplement, administered in the month of September, asks questions related to volunteering activities of household members age fifteen and older. In case of unsuccessful attempts for a self-response, proxy responses are used.

Respondents who reported volunteering in the past year were asked about the type of organizations they have volunteered for, how much time they have dedicated to volunteering activities, and what type of activities they have been engaged in. In addition, the supplement includes questions on how the respondent first become involved with the main organization they volunteered for and whether volunteering took place in a foreign country. Non-volunteers were asked about what factors might encourage them to volunteer in the future and the reason why they do not volunteer.

In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau combined the Volunteer Supplement with the Civic Engagement Supplement; the new supplement is named the Volunteering and Civic Life Supplement. In 2015, survey questions focused on the kinds of organizations respondents volunteered with, the types of activities they chose, whether any volunteering was done in a foreign country, and their involvement in their community. Several of these questions were discontinued in 2017. The supplement shifted focus in 2017 to ask more questions about interactions with family, friends, neighbors, and people from other backgrounds; political engagement; and group membership and participation. In addition, the respondents eligible to participate in the supplement changed from people aged 15+ in 2015 to people aged 16+ in 2017.

This shift in focus resulted in several variables being discontinued, including volunteering abroad (VLABROAD & VLABROADC), main organization (VLHMAINORG & VLINVLMAINORG), attended any public meetings (VLMEETING), and the following groups of variables:

Integrated variables that were continued include VLSTATUS (volunteering status), VLHALLORG (annual hours volunteered in all organizations), VLRESP (self-response flag), VLSUPPWT (supplement weight), VLNEIGH (worked with people in neighborhood), and VLDONATE (made donation to charity).

The definition of a partial interview also changed from 2015 to 2017. In 2015, interview status is defined as a non-interview if a response is "refused" to one of two questions: "Have you done any volunteer activities through or for an organization in the past year?" or "Sometimes people don't think of activities they do infrequently or activities they do for children's schools or youth organizations as volunteer activities. Have you done any of these types of volunteering activities in the past year?". In 2017, the definition of a non-interview changed to include cases when a respondent "refused" to answer the question, "How often did you talk to or spend time with friends and family?". This partial interview change in definition had little impact on the supplement response rate.

The supplement weight is VLSUPPWT, which accounts for supplement non-response.

Volunteer Supplement Codebooks

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