UK Civil Society Almanac 2016 /
Volunteer Infrastructure



  • The latest reported median annual income for VCs has increased from £56,307 in 2012/13 to its current £66,650.
  • The mean income has decreased by around £14,000 to £130,400. The overall higher mean figure compared with the median suggests a small number of outlying high-income organisations affecting the mean value.


Overall income

The median income of Volunteer Centres remains broadly stable

  • The latest reported median annual income for VCs has increased from £56,307 in 2012/13 to its current £66,650, representing the highest median income for six years.
  • Taking into account a two-year inflation rate average of 2%, this still represents a growth; the 2012/13 median would be £57,433 with inflation.
  • However, looking at mean annual income (which is more susceptible to changes as a result of extreme high and low values), income has decreased by £14,000 between 2012/13 and 2013/14.


Average income reported by Volunteer Centres, 2012/13 (£ thousands)

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Source: Annual Return of Volunteer Centres (2008/09 to 2013/14)


  • It is possible that the increase in median income may be due to a genuine increase in income across the network. However, it is also possible that we are observing a bias in the responding organisations VCs, with perhaps a higher proportion of high-income VCs responding.
  • The decrease in mean income between years is likely due to fewer VCs reporting very large incomes; this may be because they did not respond to the latest survey, or because their income has genuinely decreased.
  • This demonstrates that the mean income values are more prone to small changes in those who respond to the survey than median income values, and that this effect becomes more pronounced with a lower response rate.


Sources of income

Local government remains the main source of income while central government funding has ceased

  • In the long-term, the importance and dominance of local government as the main funding source for the VC network is clear, and it has only become increasingly important over time; it rose from 46% of total network income in 2012/13 to 56% in 2013/14.
  • At the same time, central government funding has all but disappeared, dropping from seven per cent in 2012/13 to less than two per cent in 2013/14.
  • Findings from last year’s survey (2012/13) suggested an increased importance of funding from grant-making bodies (where it saw a nine per cent increase from the previous year); however this appears to have been quickly reversed.
  • Funding from grant-making bodies making up around a quarter of total income for responding organisations has been the norm since 2008/09, and these findings represent a return to that level of funding.


Core functions and demand

Volunteer Centres provide five core functions as part of their work. These are:

  1. Brokerage (matching individuals and groups with appropriate opportunities);
  2. Good practice development (improving or attaining positive consistency in volunteering programmes);
  3. Developing volunteering opportunities (increasing the quality and diversity of volunteering);
  4. Strategic development of volunteering (ensuring a positive environment for volunteering to flourish);
  5. Providing a voice of volunteering (increasing awareness of the issues impacting on volunteering.


VCs were asked about their perceived demand for these five different functions and whether they felt they were able to fulfil them. Each of these items was assessed on a scale of 1 (low) to 3 (high).

  • As with previous years, demand for the services performed by VCs remains high, and was observed to frequently outstrip their capacity to deliver these functions.
  • Brokerage was the most in-demand function (mean ‘demand score’ of 2.9), meaning that almost all respondents stated high demand for their brokerage services. Capacity for brokerage was also high (2.5); this was therefore an area where demand was perceived to be outstripping capacity to meet this demand.
  • Demand also outstripped capacity for two other functions: good practice development (2.4 demand, 2.1 capacity) and developing volunteering practice (2.5 demand, 2.3 capacity).
  • Medium-level capacity and demand were observed for strategic development functions and providing a voice for volunteering.
  • Volunteer Centres received an average (median) of 1,474 volunteering enquiries during the year, and placed an average (median) of 209 volunteers. This produces a conversion ratio of 1:7, where approximately one placement results from every seven enquiries. This is a slightly lower placement to enquiry ratio than during 2013/14, which was 1:6.
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UK Civil Society Almanac 2016 / The Voluntary Sector /Volunteers and workforce /Volunteering

Published: 11-04-2016 / Tagged: |