Glossary

  1. Adult
  2. Attending Public Meetings Rate
  3. Baby Boomers
  4. Charitable Contributions
  5. Community Connectedness
  6. Confidence in Institutions
  7. Current Population Survey (CPS)
  8. Current Population Survey (CPS) Civic Engagement Supplement
  9. Current Population Survey (CPS) Volunteer Supplement
  10. Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting Supplement
  11. Eating Dinner with other Household Members
  12. Generation X
  13. Informal Service
  14. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
  1. Millennial Generation
  2. Older Adults
  3. Participating in a Group
  4. Political Action
  5. Technical Note
  6. Service
  7. Social Connectedness
  8. Veteran
  9. Volunteer
  10. Volunteer Rate
  11. Working with Neighbors

  1. Adult: Generally, the Current Population Survey (CPS) collects labor force data for 15-year-old respondents. For statistics that are calculated from the September Volunteer Supplements, adults are defined as individuals ages 16 and older. The CPS collects data on volunteering from 15-year-old respondents, but 15-year-olds are excluded from volunteer statistics, as they are in most other publications that use data from the CPS. For statistics that are calculated from the CPS Voting and Civic Engagement Supplements, adults are defined as individuals ages 18 and older. Starting with the November 2009 supplement, all questions on the Civic Engagement Supplement are administered only to those ages 18 and over.
  2. Attending Public Meetings Rate: Calculated from the CPS Volunteer Supplement question, which asks: "Since September 1, 2012, have you attended any public meetings in which there was discussion of community affairs?"
  3. Baby Boomers: Individuals born between 1946 and 1964.
  4. Charitable Contributions: Calculated from the CPS Volunteer Supplement question, which asks: "Since September 1, 2012, have you donated money, assets, or property with a combined value of more than $25 to charitable or religious organizations." Previously, this measure was not listed within the primary categories of civic engagement for this website. In 2012 the measures was included. It reflects a level of investment in contributing to the social infrastructure within communities.
  5. Community Connectedness: Calculated from the 2011 CPS Civic Engagement Supplement question related to an individual's sense of community engagement. Respondents were asked whether they trusted the people in their neighborhood, -None of the people, Some of the people, Most of the people or all of the people.
  6. Confidence in Institutions: Three items calculated from the 2011 CPS Civic Engagement Supplement questions related to an individual's confidence in corporations, media and public schools. Respondents were asked whether they had a great deal of confidence, some confidence, hardly any confidence or no confidence at all to do what is right.
  7. Current Population Survey (CPS): The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  8. Current Population Survey (CPS) Civic Engagement Supplement: Each November since 2008, the CPS administers its Supplement on Civic Engagement to adult respondents. The November 2008 CPS Civic Engagement Supplement collects information on the incidence of participating in non-electoral activities, belonging to a group, social connectedness, and connection to information and events. In November 2009, several questions from the Political Action and Connecting to Information and Current Events categories were eliminated from the CPS Civic Engagement Supplement, and the sample was restricted to outgoing CPS households (one-fourth of the usual size of a CPS sample). In November 2011 seven new questions were added that measure voting behavior, political expression, trust in people and confidence in institutions. These pertain to voting behavior, using the internet to express opinions on political/community issues and trust.
  9. Current Population Survey (CPS) Volunteer Supplement: Each September since 2002, the CPS administers its Supplement on Volunteering (Volunteer Supplement) to adult respondents. The CPS Volunteer Supplement collects information on the incidence of volunteering, the characteristics of volunteers, and civic life indicators in the United States.
  10. Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting Supplement: The CPS administers its Supplement on Voting to adult respondents to collect information on the incidence of voting and voting registration. The voting supplement has been administered each year as part of the November CPS. Voting information for each presidential election (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and for yearly elections from 2008 through 2011 is included on the volunteerinamerica.gov website.
  11. Eating Dinner with other Household Members: The indicators in this category (social connectedness) are measured using the following CPS Civic Engagement Supplement: “During a TYPICAL MONTH in the past year, how often did you eat dinner with any of the other members of your household –basically every day, a few times a week, a few times a month, once a month, less than once a month, or not at all?" This question is asked solely to individuals who live with other individuals in the same household. Statistics for all geographic areas are calculated from pooled 2009-20011 CPS data.
  12. Generation X: Individuals born between 1965 and 1981.
  13. Informal Service: Many people chose to engage in serve outside of a formal event or organization. Within our research, we use the term 'volunteer' to include individuals who serve for or through an organization. Informal service includes individuals who responded that they had either worked with neighbors to address a community issue and/or exchanged favors with neighbors. Data on informal service comes from questions found on the CPS Volunteering and Civic Engagement Supplements.
  14. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA): All city statistics published here are collected from Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including from residents living outside the city limits. MSAs carry the name of one or more principal cities, the most heavily urbanized cities in the area; the names of the principal cities are used as designations for the city data published here. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for determining and publishing the boundaries of MSAs. In order for an area to be designated an MSA, the area has to have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more in population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the urban core as measured by commuting ties. The MSA definitions used in the CPS Volunteering Supplements can be found in the Appendix to OMB Bulletin #03-04, issued June 30, 2003. Since then, OMB's periodic updates have changed the names and principal cities for some MSAs, but the same county-based geographic definitions described in OMB Bulletin #03-04 remain in place today.
  15. Millennial Generation: Individuals born in 1982 and after. For indicators taken from the CPS Volunteer Supplement, results are reported for Millennials who are at least 16 years old. For indicators taken from the CPS Voting and Civic Engagement Supplements, results are reported for Millennials who are at least 18 years old.
  16. Older Adults: Typically this category included individuals aged 65 years old and older. In 2012 an additional category of older adults has been included, Adults age 55 and older
  17. Organizations: Organizations are established associations, societies, or nonprofits who share a common interest. Examples include youth groups, civic organizations, churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions. The charts published in Volunteering in America represent the percentage of volunteers whose main organization (the one where they serve the most hours) is classified under a given category.
  18. Participating in a Group: The indicators in this category are measured using CPS Civic Engagement Supplement questions related to group involvement. Respondents were asked if they belonged to the following types of groups: a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution or organization, not counting attendance at religious services; a school group, neighborhood, or community association such as PTA or neighborhood watch group; a sports or recreation organization such as a soccer club or tennis club; a service or civic association; and any other type of group. Statistics for all geographic areas except the National level are calculated from pooled 2009-2011 CPS data. In 2011 the method of measuring the rate was modified to exclude respondents who missing, did not answer, or were in included in the universe. The prior method included these categories when calculating the percentage, consequently the recalculated rate is higher.
  19. Political Action: Calculated from the questions on the November 2008 CPS Civic Engagement and Voting Supplements related to voting, voter registration, and non-electoral participation. Respondents were asked about the following activities: voting in the 2008 Presidential election, registering to vote for the 2008 Presidential election, showing support for a particular party or candidate by, for example, attending a meeting, putting up a poster, or in some other way; buying or boycotting a certain product or service because of the social or political values of the company that provides it; contacting or visiting a public official to express an opinion; attending a meeting where political issues were discussed; and taking part in a march, rally, protest, or demonstration. Voting Supplement questions were re-administered in 2010. In 2011, Civic Supplement questions regarding Political Action were restricted to Voting in Local Elections, contacting public officials, buying or boycotting products, and expressing opinions via the internet on political or community issues.
  20. Technical Note: This document provides background information on data sources and survey instruments, addresses issues of statistical reliability, and defines terms used in the report.
  21. Service: Calculated from the CPS Volunteer Supplements questions related to volunteering for or through an organization, working with neighbors to fix a community problem, and attending public meetings where community affairs were discussed. Statistics for all geographic areas are calculated from pooled 2010-2012 CPS data
  22. Social Connectedness: Calculated from the CPS Civic Engagement Supplements questions related to an individual's social network. Respondents were asked about the following activities: eating dinner with other household members (for those that shared a household with other individuals); talking with neighbors; and exchanging favors with neighbors. In 2011 the item "communicating with friends and family via the internet" was modified to seeing or hearing from family or friends.
  23. Veteran: Within this website and the corresponding documents the category of "veterans" includes people who have ever been on active military duty in the past– not necessarily during wartime – but are not currently in the military. This definition is used because the data collected was done through the Current Population Survey (CPS) and active military personnel are not included in the CPS sample.
  24. Volunteer: Persons who performed unpaid volunteer activities at any point during the 12-month period, from September 1 of the prior year through the survey week in September of the survey year. Volunteers answer "yes" to one of the following questions: "Since September 1st of last year, have you done any volunteer activities through or for an organization?" and "Sometimes people don't think of activities they do infrequently or activities they do for children's schools or youth organizations as volunteer activities. Since September 1st of last year, (have you/has he/has she) done any of these types of volunteer activities?"
  25. Volunteer Rate: The percentage of individuals who responded on the Current Population Survey's Volunteer Supplement that they had performed unpaid volunteer activities at any point during the 12-month period that preceded the survey for or through an organization.
  26. Working with Neighbors: Calculated from the CPS Volunteer Supplement question, which asks: "Since September 1, 2011, have you worked with other people in your neighborhood to fix a problem or improve a condition in your community or elsewhere?"