Twin Cities residents volunteer more than any other metro area in the country, according to national rankings.
And statewide, Minnesota residents are second only to Utah.
Call it a deep-seated tradition, according to those who research giving and volunteering in Minnesota.
“We’ve long held very high rankings for volunteering,” said Allison Liuzzi, a researcher with Minnesota Compass, a project of Wilder Research at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. “It’s just a strong tradition and it spans across age groups. It’s just part of our social fabric.”
In an annual report released Tuesday by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 37 percent of residents in the Twin Cities volunteered in 2015, with more than 1 million people giving 88.4 million hours of service worth about $1.8 billion. That put the Twin Cities back in the No. 1 spot over Salt Lake City, which took the lead in 2014. Before that, the Twin Cities dominated the top spot in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and San Jose rounded out the top five metro areas in 2015. In state rankings, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Idaho followed Utah and Minnesota.
For about one-third of those who volunteer, their activities are tied to religious organizations, Liuzzi said. Among the most popular volunteer activities in Minnesota is food preparation such as volunteering at a food shelf or soup kitchen or collecting food, she said.
Education and youth organizations also attract a large number of volunteers who help at school, coach youth sports and lead scouts, she said.
After their kids grow up, Minnesotans continue to volunteer. Adults 65 years and older volunteer close to two weeks of time every year, Liuzzi said.
Beyond formal volunteer activities, Minnesotans also have a strong tradition of helping their neighbors, whether it’s walking a dog or picking up mail, she said.
According to the national report, 67.7 percent of Twin Cities residents engaged in that type of “informal volunteering.” And 64.2 percent donated at least $25 to a charity.
According to the research, do-gooders are more likely than non-volunteers to talk to neighbors, attend community meetings, participate in civic organizations, discuss politics or local issues with family and friends, and fix things in the neighborhood.
Communities with higher levels of this type of civic engagement have been linked to lower crime rates, improved health outcomes for aging adults, lower rates of mental illness, improved academic outcomes for children, improved employment outcomes for job seekers, and greater community resilience following a disaster.