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Volunteer Survey 2016 – Headline Results

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Volunteering helps us find new friends, improves our mental health and three quarters of us would be more likely to volunteer if the boss gave us time off to do it

That’s according to over 1,400 volunteers who took part in our annual survey for Volunteers’ Week 2016

What motivates people to volunteer?

Whilst three quarters of people said they volunteered to give back to their community, 68% also said they volunteered because it improves their own well being and makes them happy. And just over half said they volunteered because they wanted to meet new people and make friends, and to develop new skills and experiences.

Almost all volunteers claimed that volunteering benefited them – from connecting with new people and the local community, to gaining confidence and enhancing career prospects, our respondents gave some amazing examples of why volunteering makes them feel better, happier and more fulfilled.

35% said they would welcome some form of thank you such as discounts, gift vouchers or free events for their volunteering – with almost a third of these saying they would like to donate said rewards to a charity of their choice. This figure rises to nearly 70% in the 10-20 age group.

How we Do-it

Close to home and often! 68% of people surveyed volunteered at least once a week, with 41% volunteering more than once a week. Over three quarters of people (76%) said they preferred to volunteer within 5 miles of their homes, while 18% said they preferred to volunteer in their immediate neighbourhood.

How do people find volunteer opportunities? The majority across all ages said online, whether it was through an online search engine, social networks or recruitment sites such as Do-it.org.

What about workplace volunteering? Of those currently employed, only a third said their workplace gave them time off to volunteer and most of these could volunteer for a charity of their choice. However three quarters said they would be more likely to volunteer if their workplace gave them time to volunteer. With companies already identifying the benefits of people volunteering, this suggests there is a big appetite for more companies to follow suit!

What stops people volunteering?

As last year, the main barrier is ‘not enough time’ highlighting the need for more flexible opportunities and the reinforcing the huge potential for volunteering if more employers offered volunteering leave.

17% of people said they needed some help to find the right role. Whilst this is down on last year, it still shows a significant need for services like Volunteer Centres. However, whilst face-to-face support was still popular the majority of those surveyed said they would prefer to receive this support online – via email, chat or video guides.

10% said they were put off volunteering due to the negative press about charities in the past year. Many people in this category said they would be less likely to volunteer for a large charity. One respondent commented ‘It has made me more determined to demonstrate that my chosen charities are not like those reported in the press, particularly Kid’s Company.’

Volunteers give more

80% of people that volunteer said they had also donated money to a charity in the past year.

Volunteers confident they are making a difference

Over 91% said they thought their time had helped the organisation or cause they had volunteered for. We had many comments from volunteers throughout the survey regarding their experiences, here is one of our favourites:

“Volunteering has helped me feel valued and part of something positive – a bigger community family. By helping others and using my existing skills and learning new ones I feel positive and encouraged to do more with my life. Everyday is a new beginning.”


Survey information: We wanted to find out what motivates people to give their time to community causes and what might prevent them from getting involved.  The survey ran for 10 days and was completed by just over 1,400 people. It was promoted via social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook), partner agencies and via Do-it.org. The survey was not incentivised.

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