Our volunteering data, based on the Community Life Survey, makes a distinction between formal and informal volunteering.
Formal volunteering means giving unpaid help through a group, club or organisation.
Informal means giving unpaid help to people who are not relatives, and not through a group, club or organisation.
In addition, we distinguish between regular volunteering, where people volunteer at least once a month during the past year, and irregular volunteering, where people have volunteered at least once in the past year.
Levels of formal volunteering have levelled off in 2016/17
In 2016/17, just over a third of people (37%) formally volunteered at least once a year and around a fifth (22%) formally volunteered at least once a month.
Levels of formal volunteering, both irregular and regular, appear to be similar to those in 2015/16, and lower than in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
The new trendline suggests that levels of formal volunteering have dropped. However, as the survey was going through a testing phase and changes in methodology between 2013/14 and 2016/17, these trends should be viewed with caution (see Is there a decline in volunteering?).
Extrapolating the figures to the UK results in an estimate of 11.9 million people formally volunteering once a month and 19.8 million formally volunteering once a year in 2016/17.
Levels of informal volunteering have remained relatively stable
In 2016/17, one in two people informally volunteered at least once a year and just over a quarter (27%) of people informally volunteered at least once a month.
Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, levels of informal volunteering appear to have remained relatively stable.
Similarly to formal volunteering, these trends should be viewed with caution because of methodological changes to the survey between 2013/14 and 2016/17 (see Is there a decline in volunteering?).
Extrapolating the figures to the UK results in an estimate of 14.5 million people informally volunteering once a month and 27.6 million informally volunteering once a year in 2016/17.
Employer-supported volunteering rates remain low
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.
Compared to other types of volunteering, employer-supported volunteering is relatively rare: in 2016/17, only 6% participated in occasional or one-off voluntary activities encouraged by their employer.
Levels of employer-supported volunteering haven’t changed much since 2012/13.
Regular employer-supported volunteering – that is, at least once per month – can no longer be tracked as this question has not been asked since 2014/15.
Get the data
Access more data from the Community Life Survey here.