Corwin Smidt sums up the research on volunteering.
Well, there are a variety of ways in which believers make good citizens – at least, most of my research is done in the American context, and so I’ll be talking in that vein. Many people believe that participation in voluntary associations is very important both for the kinds of skills that people develop, the bridging different kinds of social groups, and that you can, being involved in voluntary associations, come to learn new kinds of information that then move you into a more public engagement.
So those who are involved in religious life in the United States tend to be involved in these voluntary associations. In fact, the research has shown that religious people are far more involved in these voluntary associations than those who are not so. Well, that’s just the first step, then there’s a number of other things that flow from that – things that are more related to your community, involvement in terms of charitable giving, in terms of volunteering for both religious and non-religious causes. In fact, though religious people do volunteer for religious causes, it kind of overflows into the secular arena, and religious people also are much more likely to volunteer in secular causes as well.