Rates of regular formal volunteering do not vary between men and women
- In terms of formal volunteering in the last 12 months, no gender differences were observed (41% of men compared with 43% of women).
- Broadly equal proportions reported volunteering at least once per month (28% of men and 27% of women). However, more pronounced differences were observed in terms of informal volunteering; more women than men volunteered informally in the last 12 months (56% of men and 62% of women).
- Likewise, a significantly higher proportion of women volunteered informally on a regular basis (39%) compared to men (29%).
- In terms of people who have done any volunteering over the course of a given year, a small gender difference has emerged in the current year’s findings: only 67% of men reported having done any volunteering in the last year, while 72% of women reported having volunteered. This appears to be largely driven by a drop in the proportion of men informally volunteering (down from 74% in 2013/14).
- 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’.
|Decorating, home improvement (informal)||27||8|
|Giving advice (informal)||51||41|
|Giving information/advice/counselling (formal)||28||23|
|Representing someone (informal)||10||9|
|Cooking, cleaning and laundry||23||23|
|Other practical help (formal)||27||45|
|Sitting with, providing personal care (informal)||5||10|
|Babysitting or caring for children (informal)||19||39|
Differences between age groups in terms of formal volunteering rates may be becoming more pronounced.
- A number of age group differences were observed in the 2015/16 data. Those aged 75 and over showed the lowest rates of regular volunteering in last year’s data, but showed a four percent increase in the 2015/16 data.
- Rates are stable in other age groups in the 2015/16 data: in 35 to 49 year olds (27%, no change from last year), in 50 to 64 year-olds (also 27%, no change from last year) and 65 to 74 year olds (31%, a 2% drop from last year).
- The lowest rates of regular volunteering are now reported in 26 to 34 year olds: only 21% report volunteering monthly.
- The highest rates of monthly volunteering are in 16 to 25 year olds (32%) and 65 to 74 year olds (31%).
- Irregular volunteering rates (those who have volunteered once in the last year) show a different pattern. The biggest changes on this measure are in 26 to 34 year-olds who showed an increase of 33% to 39% in 2015/16; and in 35 to 49 year-olds who showed a drop from 33% to 39% in 2015/16.
- Breakdowns of volunteer rates should be interpreted with caution due to the smaller number of responses to the 2014/15 Community Life survey.
Participation rates in all forms of volunteering are now highest in young people
- Rates of formal volunteering among young people have risen steadily in recent years, with the 2014/15 data showing an increase of four percent from the previous year. Data from 2015/16 suggests that this increase may have stalled: participation in regular formal volunteering has dropped to 32%. However young people still represent the highest overall rate compared with other age groups, and this is also true for irregular (once in the last year) volunteering (at 49% of young people).
- If the 2014/15 35% rate of monthly volunteering is applied to the population of England (where the survey is sampled and weighted to represent the population), this would represent approximately 2,430,000 young people volunteering on a regular basis. This compares favourably to the equivalent calculation in 2010/11, where 23% of young people were estimated to participate in regular volunteering, representing 1,580,000 young volunteers.
- Other research has looked specifically as rates of participation in social action in young people. In a 2015 face-to-face survey of 2021 young people aged 10-20 in the UK, 42% had taken part in some form of meaningful social action, meaning regular participation in or time given over to volunteering, fundraising, supporting others, tutoring/coaching, campaigning or improving the local area.
- A further 17% reported less regular participation in these kinds of activities. Fundraising and/or sponsored activities were the most commonly reported (43% of all respondents said that they had done this at least once in the last year), followed by giving time to charities or causes (32%) and supporting others (28%).
Regions and deprivation
Rates of volunteering vary according to where people live
- Rates of volunteering are higher in rural areas. 25% of those living in urban areas volunteered formally on a monthly basis, compared with 37% of those in rural areas. The same pattern also applies to those who have done any volunteering in the last year: 40% in urban areas compared with 54% in rural areas.
- Regional data on rates is available for 2015/16. In terms of regular volunteering, there has been a notable drop in participation in formal volunteering London, with rates dropping from 25% in 2014/15 to 17% in 2015/16. Three areas have shown marked increases and have become the regions with the higest overall rates: these are the South West and the East and West Midlands, which all show a 33% participation rate in regular formal volunteering. Rates in Yorkshire and the Humber have also show large increases over the last two years, from 21% in 2013/14, to 28% in 2014/15, and to 29% in 2015/16.
- There is no simple relationship between deprivation and rates of formal volunteering. In general, those in less deprived areas are more likely to volunteer than those in the most deprived: for example, 33% volunteered regularly in the least deprived areas of England (i.e. in the 10% least deprived Lower Super Output Areas) compared with 23% in the most deprived. However, there lowest rates of regular volunteering are in fact in the 5th decile (at 19%), and high rates are also shown in the 2nd and 4th deciles (both 28%). In addition, the 3rd-most deprived decile also gives the highest number of hours to volunteering on a monthly basis.
The employment status of volunteers does not impact on rates of regular volunteering
- Whether respondents were in paid employment did not appear to be associated with any difference in likelihood of their regular volunteering. Equal proportions of respondents in paid employment reported volunteering formally on a monthly basis to those not in paid employment (both 27%). However, a difference was seen amongst those who volunteered less frequently: 45% of those in paid employment volunteered formally once in the last year, compared with 38% who were not.
- 36% of full-time students volunteered formally on a monthly basis, compared with 27% of non-students. The same pattern also applies to those who have done any volunteering in the last year: 53% of full-time students compared with 41% of non-students.
- Changes to the Community Life survey, which is designed to be representative of adults aged 16 and over in England, have meant that a smaller number of responses can be used to compare year-on-year trends; this becomes especially problematic when breaking the sample down into further subgroups, such as by age range or region. The changes by age reported here are, however, consistent with trends observed in the data over the last five years, and the increase in volunteering by young people since the much-larger 2010/2011 Citizenship survey is statistically significant.
- #iwill Youth Social Action Survey 2015: A face-to-face survey of 10-20 year olds in the UK, Step Up To Serve and Cabinet Office