Helping out: a national survey of volunteering and charitable giving
Helping out: a national survey of volunteering and charitable giving is a new household survey of adults (aged 16 and over) in England which asks for details of people's views and experiences of participation in voluntary activity and charitable giving.
The survey explores how and why people engage in formal volunteering, and what they think of their experiences; and how and why they give money to charity. It also looks at what stops people from giving to charity or volunteering. It builds on the Institute for Volunteering Research's National Survey of Volunteering [external website], and provides insights into changes over the last ten years.
The survey interviewed over 2,700 adults (aged 16 and over) in households in England, who had previously been interviewed for the Citizenship Survey, including 549 people from ethnic minority groups.
The results of the survey provide a wealth of data that will enable the Office of the Third Sector, practitioners and funders to target and manage programmes in support of volunteering and giving, and to help overcome the barriers people face in taking part, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Results from the survey
Headline findings from the survey include:
- The most common reasons for getting involved in volunteering were in order to improve things or help people (53% of volunteers), because the cause was important to the volunteer (41%) or because the volunteer had spare time (41%).
- Regular volunteers were generally positive about their volunteering experiences. Nearly all of them said that their efforts were appreciated (95%) and 9 in 10 agreed that they were given the chance to engage in activities that they liked (91%).
- 31% of regular volunteers said their volunteering could be better organised, and 28% said there was too much bureaucracy.
- Volunteers said that the main benefits of volunteering were getting satisfaction from seeing the results of their work, enjoyment of being involved and personal achievement. Many respondents also highlighted the importance of meeting people and making new friends.
- One-fifth (21%) of respondents said they had never volunteered. A further 19% were not currently volunteering but had done so in the past. However, many of these people said they would like to spend more time volunteering.
- Most people (81%) had given to charity in the last four weeks, most commonly by putting money in a collecting tin, followed by buying raffle tickets.
- Nearly a half of the respondents said they had increased the amount they had donated since 2000, and 37% had increased the frequency of their donations. The most common reason given for this was a rise in the respondent's level of disposable income.
- Almost two-thirds of the respondents (64%) had heard of Gift Aid, and approximately one-third (34%) had made use of it to give tax-efficiently in the previous year.
- The most common reason for donating to charity was that the work of the charity was deemed important (52% of donors), followed by a belief that it was the right thing to do (41%).
- Over half of the respondents (58%) had both volunteered and donated to charity in the previous 12 months.
Results in more detail
The dataset will be available from the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex.
We would welcome any feedback on the survey.
Please email the Third Sector Research Team with your comments