Changes in volunteering participation

The Office for National Statistics (the ONS) took a look at volunteer participation rates across the UK between the years 2000 and 2015. What did they find?

Headline facts:

  • The proportion of people volunteering over the last 12 months has increased in recent years, but at the same time, the average time spent volunteering per day has fallen. Between 2000 and 2015, participation rates increased from 39% to 41% for men and from 39% to 42% for women but the average time spent volunteering decreased from 12.3 to 11.3 minutes for men and 16.3 to 15.7 minutes for women.
  • In 2015, volunteering participation rates for women and men were broadly similar over the year (42% and 41% respectively). However, women who volunteered spent on average 15.7 minutes per day volunteering compared to 11.3 minutes for men.
  • In 2015, 50% of women from high income households volunteered over the year compared with 38% of women from low-income households. However, women from low income households spent 7.1 minutes more volunteering per day than those from high income households (18.7 minutes compared to 11.6 minutes respectively).
  • In 2015, men in high income households were more likely to volunteer over the year than men in low income households (49% and 33% respectively), but spent a similar amount of time volunteering (7.1 minutes and 6.9 minutes respectively).
  • In 2015, 51% of those aged 16 to 24 volunteered for an average of 17.0 minutes per day, over the year. This was the highest of all age groups both in terms of participation and average time spent volunteering.
  • Students are both more likely to volunteer and also spend longer per day volunteering than those in paid work. In 2015, 58% of students volunteered over the year for an average of 16.3 minutes per day, compared with 42% of those in paid work who volunteered for an average of 9.6 minutes per day.
  • Non-retired volunteers from low income households were most likely to volunteer during weekday day-time hours. This contrasts with those from similar households who did not volunteer, who were more likely to be doing paid work, or looking after children during weekday day-time hours.
  • Non-retired volunteers from high income households were more likely to be outside the home doing, for example, social, or cultural activities during weekday evening hours when not volunteering.
  • Non-retired non-volunteers, regardless of household income, were more likely to engage in activities such as consuming media, and resting during the hours than others engaged in voluntary activity.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, the value of formal volunteering fell from £22.8bn to £22.6bn. This was mainly due to a fall in the total number of hours volunteered between these years.

The full report can be seen here.

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