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More young people volunteering as overall rates remain consistent

More young people volunteering as overall rates remain consistent

More than 21m people volunteer in the UK at least once a year, with 9% of the adult population accounting for 51% of all hours, according to figures from nfpSynergy.

The figures on volunteering show that rates have remained fairly consistent over the past ten years while the gender gap has diminished and the proportion of young people volunteering has increased.

Roughly a fifth of people said they had given time as a volunteer for an organisation or in the local community in the three months prior to being questioned. This has remained fairly consistent since 2003, according to the nfpSynergy data.

Who volunteers?

People from a higher social grade are much more likely to volunteer: 25% of those from households in the £40,000 income bracket, and people who have given money in the last three months (23%) are also much more likely to have volunteered in the same period than those who have not (10%).

Young people aged 16-34, and the over 65s are more likely to have volunteered for a charity over a three-month period compared to other groups, with students in higher education the most likely group to volunteer: twice as likely in the last four weeks compared to other age groups.

Regular worshippers are also more likely to have volunteered in a given three-month period (43%) than others (21%). However, the report suggests that doing unpaid work for a religious group or place of worship could count as volunteering in some of these cases, which may partly explain the differences between volunteering rates of regular and non-regular worshippers.

No more gender gap

According to the report, when it comes to rates of volunteering, the gender gap has closed over the last decade. While women consistently volunteered more than men until 2009, this trend has not persisted over the last five years and the proportion of men and women who have volunteered in a three-month period is the same, at 21%.

Future expectations

nfpSynergy also asked people about their volunteering plans for the future, and found that in general, groups who were already volunteering the most expect to increase their volunteering more than others, including regular worshippers, charity donors and those of a high social grade.

The two youngest age groups (16-24 and 25-34) are two times more likely to expect to increase their time spent volunteering than the average individual. According to nfpSynergy, however, this is largely due to greater uncertainty amongst other age groups, and particularly with the over 65s, the life changes that often come with getting older.


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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