Volunteers’ Week 2015: Survey Results

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Volunteering makes you feel happy, it does wonders for your CV and you might even find love.  That’s according to over 4,000 volunteers who took part in our survey to celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2015.

The survey asked: what motivates people to volunteer, what stops them from volunteering and how do they search for volunteering opportunities in 2015.

The single biggest motivation to volunteer was the desire to ‘give back’, with 65% of those surveyed saying they ‘want to do some good in the community.’

However, 90% of those surveyed also felt they had personally ‘benefitted from volunteering’.  Many said it had improved their wellbeing, helped them to find love or gain employment.

Lack of time had stopped 42% of those surveyed from volunteering, while shockingly 20% said they had ‘applied once but no one got back to me’.

Of those who took part in the survey, 70% said they ‘currently volunteer’ and 30% ‘used to volunteer’.  57% said they volunteered at least once a week.

What motivates people to volunteer?

  • 65% wanted to ‘give back’ to the community

  • 42% want ‘to support a cause or organisation I care about’

  • 58% ‘helping others improves my wellbeing and makes me happy’

  • 38% are seeking ‘to improve my CV or get a new job’

  • 45% said personal development, wanting ‘to gain new skills’

  • 37% said volunteering is an ‘easy and fun way to spend spare time’

  • 45% wanted to meet new people and friends (with some reporting they’d met their partner through volunteering)

Jamie Ward-Smith, Chief Executive of Do-it Trust, says: “It’s great news that so many people are feeling the benefits that volunteering can offer.  Particularly striking has been the frequent mentions from those we surveyed about how volunteering has improved their wellbeing and mental health, highlighting its enormous potential for social prescribing.”

“It’s also tremendously encouraging that so many people recognise volunteering as an effective route into employment and a powerful way to further their personal development.”

 What stops you from volunteering?

  • 42% said lack of time

  • 20% said they had ‘applied once but no one got back to me’

  • 11% were put off by lengthy ‘recruitment process’

  • 16% felt they needed more ‘help to find the right role’

  • 7% felt they ‘didn’t have the right skills or experience’

  • 16% said ‘a lack of local opportunities’

  • 14% said ‘not being able to afford travel expenses’

Jamie Ward-Smith says: “That lack of time is still the biggest barrier to volunteering shows a real need for more flexible, short term volunteering, including micro opportunities.  Do-it.org is powering the new Team London Speed Volunteering platform, part of the Mayor of London’s volunteering programme.  We’ll be adding this feature to Do-it.org later in the year, along with a speed volunteering mobile app.”

“The fact that 20% of those surveyed say they didn’t volunteer because no one had called them back is a huge waste of potential and needs addressing. Imagine if we didn’t respond to 20% of offers of donations – the value that volunteers offer should be treated as seriously.  Likewise, the application process must be as quick and efficient as it can be. This is just about best practice within the sector.”

“Whilst the majority of people can find their way into a volunteering opportunity, 23% still need help, which highlights the vital role of volunteering infrastructure, such as Volunteer Centres who we know champion good practice on the ground, to ensure we don’t miss out on time and talents.”

Where do you search for volunteering opportunities?

  • 82% search for information about volunteering online

  • 33% access this information using a mobile device (smart phone or tablet)

  • 48% would go direct to a charity of their choice

  • 59% would ask a friend or family member

  • 34% would be likely or highly likely to find out about volunteering through their employers

  • 49% would expect to find information about volunteering through a local newspaper

Jamie Ward-Smith adds: “The fact that 33% of those we surveyed use mobile devices to search for volunteering opportunities shows a growing trend which warrants the sector’s urgent attention – if you’re not mobile friendly you could be creating barriers to engagement.  And the fact that 34% find out about opportunities through their employers is also very significant given the Government proposal to compel all companies with 250 or more staff to give time off to volunteer.”

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 seven days and was completed by 4,234 people.  It was promoted via social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and via Do-it.org.  We also sent the survey to a random selection of our registered user database.  The survey was not incentivised.


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