UK Civil Society Almanac 2015 /
Volunteer profiles

Rates of regular formal volunteering do not vary between men and women

In terms of formal volunteering in the last 12 months, the same proportion of women participated as men (both 41%), and a similar proportion volunteered regularly (27% women and 26% men). Likewise, a similar proportion of women and men volunteered informally in the last 12 months (65% and 63% respectively). However, a significantly higher proportion of women volunteered informally on a regular basis (38%) compared to men (32%).

In terms of people who have done any formal volunteering over the course of a given year, there is little difference by gender, and where there is, the difference is limited to two to three per cent of the total population surveyed.

Proportion of men and women taking part in formal volunteering at least once in a year, 2007/08 to 2013/14 (% of respondents)
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

Despite these similarities, rates of participation can differ between men and women depending on the type of activity being undertaken. According to data from Helping Out, the 2007 national survey of volunteering and charitable giving, women were considerably more likely to provide caring roles and men more likely to give advice and represent others. On the other hand, equal numbers of both men and women provided help with ‘cooking, cleaning and laundry’.

Types of regular voluntary activities done by volunteers in the 12 months before being interviewed (2008-09)
ActivityMaleFemale
Decorating, home improvement (informal)278
Representing (formal)2412
Giving advice (informal)5141
Giving information/advice/counselling (formal)2823
Representing someone (informal)109
Cooking, cleaning and laundry2323
Other practical help (formal)2745
Sitting with, providing personal care (informal)510
Babysitting or caring for children (informal)1939
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Other activities that varied according to gender included transporting (reported by 24% of men and 15% of women), organising/helping to run events (46% of men and 53% of women), educating (28% of men and 22% of women), giving advice/information/counselling (20% of men vs 13% of women) and raising/handling money (61% of men and 67% of women).

People of all ages volunteer

Rates of volunteering vary comparatively little across age groups, although those aged 75 and over tend to volunteer least often. Between 39% and 45% of people in each age range report volunteering formally at least once in the last year, except among those aged 75 and over, for whom it was 28%. A slightly lower proportion of people report volunteering formally at least once a month, between 21% and 32% across each age range. Those who volunteered most frequently were aged 16-25 (31%) and 65-74 (32%).

Proportion of people formally volunteering by age group, 2013/14
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Source: Community Life Survey 2013/14

Rates of regular formal volunteering among young people are at their highest since 2003

Just under half of people aged 16-25 had volunteered formally at least once in 2013/14, similar to 2012/13). Fewer people in this age group (31%) volunteered regularly, although this was higher than the figure for the previous year (28%) and the highest rate of volunteering among this age group since 2003. With regards to regular volunteering, people aged 16-25 and 65-74 are the only age groups to have sustained or increased their rates of volunteering since 2012/13.

Proportion of 16-25 year olds volunteering, 2003 to 2013/14 (% of respondents)
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

Rates of volunteering vary according to where people live

Data from England show that the South East and South West regions have the highest rates of engagement in formal volunteering, averaging at least once in the last 12 months (51% and 46% of respondents respectively). Two in five (40%) of those living in urban areas volunteered formally in the last 12 months, which was slightly lower than those in rural areas (45%).

People living in the least deprived areas of England (i.e. in the 10% least deprived Lower Super Output Areas) were more likely to have volunteered formally or informally at least once in the last 12 months (51% and 74% of respondents respectively) than those who lived in the most deprived areas (31% and 60% respectively).

Formal volunteering in the last 12 months by Index of Deprivation, 2013/14 (% of respondents)
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Source: Annual Return of Volunteer Centres (2008/09 to 2012/13)

The employment status of volunteers doesn’t impact on rates of regular volunteering

Around a quarter (26%) of employed respondents reported volunteering formally on a regular basis (at least once per month), which was similar to rates of volunteering amongst those who were unemployed and economically inactive (both 27%). However, a difference was seen amongst those who volunteered less frequently: 43% of employed people volunteered formally once in the last year, which was a higher proportion than those who were unemployed (39%) and those who were economically inactive (37%).

Frequency of formal volunteering by employment status, 2013/14 (% of respondents)
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Source: Community Life survey 2013/14
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UK Civil Society Almanac 2015 / The Voluntary Sector /Volunteers and workforce /Volunteering

Published: 04-06-2015

https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac15/volunteer-profiles/