Volunteering and giving remain steady but are still lower than in 2013-14, according to DCMS’s Community Life Survey 2017-18.
The Community Life Survey found that nearly two thirds (64%) of people had taken part in either formal or informal volunteering in the last year, similar to 2016-17 (63%) but a gradual decrease since 2013-14 (70%). 38% of people said they had volunteered either formally or informally at least once a month. Again, a similar rate to 2016-17 (39%), but down on 2013-14’s 44%.
Those volunteering both formally and informally tended to the over 65s, with 25-34 year olds having the lowest rates of regular formal volunteering at 15%, and those aged 65-74 having the highest rates of regular formal volunteering, at 29%.
More key volunteering stats
- 22% volunteered formally at least once a month, and 38% at least once a year
- 27% volunteered informally at least once a month and 53% at least once a year
- 34% of those aged 65+ volunteered informally (34%)
- 16-24 year olds were more likely to have taken part in regular informal volunteering than those aged 35-49 (28% compared with 22%)
- The economically inactive were more likely to volunteer regularly (29%) than those in employment (22%) and those who are unemployed (19%).
- People living in rural areas were more likely to volunteer regularly than those living in urban areas (29% compared with 21%)
- 41% of women took part in some form of volunteering at least once a month vs. 36% of men
- 44% of people with a limiting long-term illness or disability did some form of volunteering at least once a month compared to 39% of those without
- People in the most deprived area were less likely to have volunteered at least once a month than those from the least deprived areas (33% compared with 44%)
The most common reason given for taking part in formal volunteering was ‘I wanted to improve things/ help people’, with almost half of people who volunteered citing this as a reason (46%). ‘The cause was really important to me’ was the next most common reason (31%) and a quarter of people (25%) said ‘I wanted to meet people/ make friends’ or ‘I had spare time to do it’.
Barriers to volunteering
Having work commitments was the biggest barrier to volunteering or to volunteering more frequently, with over half (51%) of those who didn’t volunteer formally citing this as a reason. 37% said they had other things to do in their spare time, and 26% had to look after children/ the home.
Three quarters of respondents (75%) had given money to charitable causes in the last four weeks, the same as in 2016-17 but lower than 2013-14’s 82%.
Women were more likely to have given to charity than men (79% compared with 70%); this pattern has remained consistent since 2013-14. Older people were more likely to have given to charity than younger people, with 83% of over 75s donating in the last four weeks compared with 57% of 16-24 year olds. People living in the most deprived areas were less likely to have given to charity in the past four weeks than those living in the least deprived areas (67% compared with 80%).
The mean amount given in the four weeks prior to completing the survey (excluding those who donated more than £300) remained the same as 2016-17, 2015-16 and 2013-14, at £22, with 13% donating more than £50.
In 2017-18, 15% of people had been involved in social action in their local area at least once in the last year, similar to 2016-17 (16%). The overall rate of social action has decreased slightly since 2013-14 when 19% were involved.
The Community Life Survey (CLS) is an annual survey of adults (16+) in England, with this one running from August 2017 to March 2018, and surveying 10,217 people.
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