UK Civil Society Almanac 2016 /
Volunteering rates and overview

 

Formal volunteering

Rates of formal volunteering are broadly unchanged…

Formal volunteering is described as giving unpaid help through a group, club or organisation.

  • In 2014/15, 42% of adults aged 16 and over (around two in five) reported volunteering formally at least once in the previous year.
  • This figure is comparable to the previous year, and continues to indicate stability; since 2001, the rates of adults formally volunteering at least once in the last year continue to be within five percentage points of each other.
  • The rates of adults volunteering at least once a month have also remained steady since 2001. In 2014/15, 27% of (just over one in every four) adults volunteered at least once a month, the same at the 2013/14 figure.
14.2m
The estimated number of people volunteering once a month in 2014/15
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  • If the survey results are extrapolated to the UK population as a whole, this would produce an estimate of 21.8 million people formally volunteering at least once in the last year, and 14.2 million people formally volunteering at least once a month.

 

Proportion of people volunteering formally, 2001 to 2014/15 (% of respondents)
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

 

Similar to overall rates of volunteering, the average (mean) number of hours of formal volunteering undertaken per month by individuals has remained relatively stable since 2001.

  • In 2014/15 the estimated mean hours per month among regular volunteers was 11.6. There are small fluctuations on a year-by-year basis, however, with the highest average observed in 2008/2009 at 12.6 hours per month and the lowest in 2010/11 at 10.1 hours per month.
  • The ONS estimated from 2012/13 Community Life survey data that engagement in regular (at least once a month) formal volunteering in the UK is worth £23.9 billion per year[1].
Average number of hours of formal volunteering, 2001 to 2014/15
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

 

Informal volunteering

…as are rates of informal volunteering

  • Informal volunteering is described as giving unpaid help to individual people who are not relatives.
  • In 2014/15, 59% of adults reported volunteering informally at least once in the last year and 34% have done so at least once a month.
  • These figures for informal volunteering are largely unchanged from the previous year.
  • Since 2001, these figures have remained largely stable, with the exception of a dip in 2009/10 and 2010/11.
Proportion of people volunteering informally, 2001 to 2014/15 (% of respondents)
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

 

  • If the results of the survey are extrapolated to the UK population as a whole, this would produce an estimate of 31.2 million people who volunteered informally at least once in the last year and 18.7 million people who volunteered regularly.

 

Employer-supported volunteering

 

Employer-supported volunteering rates have stabilised

  • Employer-supported volunteering includes activities such as volunteering days provided by an employer during work-time or voluntary activities that are organised through a workplace.
  • The Community Life survey describes these as ‘schemes for employees to help with community projects, voluntary or charity organisations’ that are ‘encouraged by employers’.
  • In previous years data has shown increases in the number of people who take part in employer-supported volunteering activities; rates have remained stable this year however.
  • Regular employer-supported volunteering – that is, at least once per month – remains rare and is reported by 2.7% of all respondents to the most recent Community Life survey, compared with 2.6% in 2013/14.
  • Less regular participation in employer-supported volunteering – that is, at least once in the last year – has also remained at a similar level: 7.4% compared with 7.6% in 2013/14.
Proportion of people taking part in employer-supported volunteering, 2008/09 to 2014/15
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Source: Citizenship and Community Life surveys

 

  • The 2014/15 survey did not include questions whether employers made ESV schemes available to employees. However data from the previous year suggested that most respondents reported that they did not have an employer-supported volunteering scheme available to them, with fewer than one in ten (8%) working in an organisation that had a scheme that was helping community projects, voluntary or charity organisations.
  • However, where volunteering schemes are made available by employers, uptake is very high. Of these respondents, almost all (99%) had participated in the last 12 months, although only 3% had participated regularly (i.e. at least once a month).

 

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