Community participation of persons with disabilities: volunteering, donations and involvement in groups and organisations

Disabil Rehabil. 2016 Aug;38(17):1705-15. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1107643. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Purpose: This study examined similarities and differences between persons with and without disabilities on volunteering, donations and group participation.

Method: A sample of 1548 individuals participated and 60% of the sample were persons with disabilities. Data for this research was drawn from a major statewide survey in a Midwestern state in the United States. Community participation was measured through involvement with civic, religious and other community-based groups, volunteering activities and donations. Logistic regression was pursued to test the effect of disability on community participation.

Results: Findings support different trends in participation between persons with and without disabilities. Individuals without disabilities are more likely to volunteer, donate money and participate in civic organisations (e.g. clubs) and other groups. Employment and household income have a significant contribution in explaining these differences.

Conclusions: This study found significant differences in community participation between persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities. Regression analysis outcomes underscore the importance of employment and income in eliminating disparities in community involvement between persons with and without disabilities. Implications for Rehabilitation Policy change in rehabilitation agencies to fund supported volunteering services. Improve the representation of persons with disabilities in volunteering pursuits by making volunteering positions accessible to them (educate persons with disabilities to be more aware of these opportunities, provide reasonable accommodations at work sites, etc.). Educate stakeholders about the benefits of volunteering and being part of civic, and other community based groups in improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities. Identification of barriers for persons with disabilities in these pursuits (physical and attitudinal barriers, lack of resources). Identifying and utilising natural supports in the work site for persons with disabilities to receive peer support on the job from full-time employees.

Keywords: Community participation; disability; donations; group membership; volunteering.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Participation*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volunteers
  • Young Adult