Who works for voluntary organisations?

By gender

  • The majority of the voluntary sector workforce are women, who make up over two-thirds (68%) of the total workforce in June 2019. This proportion is similar to the public sector (66%) but much higher than the private sector (41%).
  • While the proportion of men working for voluntary organisations dropped by 11% last year following two years of slow growth, it has remained stable in 2019.

After a dip in 2018, the number of men working in the voluntary sector has remained stable

By age

  • The voluntary sector workforce is older than the workforce in other sectors with 37% of employees aged 50 years and over compared to 35% in the public sector and 31% in the private sector.
  • The number of people aged 16–34 working in the voluntary sector has grown slightly by 1% since June 2018, but they remain the smallest age group (27%).
  • People aged 35–49 working in the voluntary sector have seen the largest increases in the last five years with numbers going up by 22% since June 2014, compared to and 8% for over 50s and 5% for 16–34 year olds.

The voluntary sector workforce has a similar age profile to the public sector but is older than the private sector

By ethnicity

  • The voluntary sector has a predominantly white workforce, with people from BAME backgrounds making up 9% of the workforce.
  • This proportion is lower than in the public and private sectors (both 12%) and has not changed in the last seven years (our data on ethnicity does not go back further than this). It is also lower than in the UK population as a whole, based on the latest census (13%).

The proportion of BAME workers in the voluntary sector remains low and has not changed in the last seven year

By nationality

  • The drop in the proportion of EU nationals working in the voluntary sector after the 2016 EU referendum stalled towards the end of 2017 and has been relatively stable since then.
  • In June 2019, the proportion of EU nationals working in voluntary organisations was 4% remaining unchanged from the previous year, after a peak of 5% in early 2016. Similarly, the proportion of employees in the private sector seems to have stabilised after a fall in between 2017 and 2018, while the proportion of EU nationals working in the public sector has been growing very slowly.
  • The average percentage change since 2009 in the proportion of EU nationals working in the UK is +2%, for all sectors.

The proportion of EU nationals working in the voluntary sector has remained relatively stable after a drop in 2017

More data and research