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Research shows drop in volunteering among older age groups but rise in younger years

Research shows drop in volunteering among older age groups but rise in younger years

Older age groups are volunteering less often now than they did in 2012, the latest nfpSynergy report has shown.

According to nfpSynergy’s Volunteering Trend Data, levels among 45-54 years olds, 55-64 year olds and those aged 65+ have all dropped since 2012, with fewer having volunteered in the three months prior to the survey than when asked the same question in 2012. While the decline was just one percentage point among those aged 65+, the largest drop was seen in the 55-64 age group, where rates had fallen from 22% in 2012 to 15% in 2017. Conversely, every age group below 45-54 had volunteered more, particularly those aged 16-24 where the percentage of those volunteering was 30% in 2017, up from 24% in 2012.

nfpsynergy volunteering trends


Those age 65+ were still the second biggest volunteers: 23% had volunteered between January and April this year, compared to 14% of 45-54 year olds, and 15% of 55-64 year olds. Those aged 16-24 came top however, with 30% having volunteered during this time.

16-34 year old men are now one of the most likely groups to volunteer – peaking at 39% in 2014 –closely followed by women in the same age group. However, figures for these groups frequently move up and down between 2012 and now, with nfpSynergy stating that this volatility requires frequent tracking. 
 Overall however, averages for volunteering levels among this group as well as among 25-34 year olds have steadily risen with volunteering in 16-24 year old starting to rise in 2009/10, followed by volunteering in 25-34 year olds two-three years later.

nfpSynergy poses the question in the report as to whether it is possible that those who volunteered at school and university in their youth are continuing those habits as they get older. As to why those aged 45-54 and 55-64 are volunteering less, it suggests a lack of major initiatives to encourage volunteering amongst these age groups.

The full report can be downloaded from nfpSynergy’s site.

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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