UK Volunteering On the Rise
Monday, 8th October 2007 at 3:52 pm
It’s official! England is a charitable nation according to a UK Government survey that shows volunteering and giving are on the rise.
The survey, which found that more than half of the population gave to charity and volunteered in the last twelve months, has been published by the UK Cabinet Office.
2,705 people in England were interviewed for ‘Helping Out: A national survey of volunteering and charitable giving’. More than half (58 per cent) had both volunteered and donated to charity in the last 12 months, and most (81 per cent) had given to a charity within the last four weeks.
The most common reasons for volunteering were ‘to improve things or help people’ (53 per cent), ‘because the cause was important’ (41 per cent) or ‘because they had spare time’ (41 per cent). When it came to giving to charity, the importance of the charity’s work topped the list of reasons for those surveyed (52 per cent), closely followed by a belief that it is the right thing to do (41 per cent).
The UK Minister for the Third Sector, Phil Hope says the research shows that people, contrary to what many may think, are willing to “help out" – and nearly 60 per cent have done so by volunteering formally in the past year.
He says as well more money is being given to charity than ever before.
The survey found that there are also challenges ahead. Many still feel unable to volunteer, particularly those on the fringes of society. There’s also a clear gap when it comes to opportunities for training and qualifications being offered to volunteers.
Justin Davis-Smith, Acting Chief Executive of Volunteering England and an author of the report says it is great that so many people are experiencing the benefits of acquiring skills, meeting new people and feeling more personally fulfilled that volunteering can provide.
However, he says it is vital to break down any real or perceived barriers to volunteering and commit sufficient resources to volunteering infrastructure to make it as easy as possible for everyone to contribute to their communities.
Other key findings from the report include:
– 59 per cent had volunteered in the last year (39 per cent had done so at least monthly), and 69 per cent in the last five years, with an estimated economic value of £38.9 billion;
– on average, volunteers had given 11 hours over the last four weeks;
– positive feelings were expressed on the experience of volunteering – nearly all (95 per cent) of regular volunteers said their efforts were appreciated and nine in 10 had the chance to do activities they liked;
– cited benefits of volunteering included satisfaction from seeing the results, a sense of personal achievement, and the opportunity to meet people and make new friends;
– those in the 34-44 and 55-64 age brackets, women, the employed and people of religious faith were more likely to volunteer than other social groups;
– there is room for improvement in organisation (31 per cent said their volunteering could be better organised) and in reducing bureaucracy (mentioned by 28 per cent);
– among the 81 per cent who had given to charity in the last four weeks, the most common way was by putting money in a collecting tin, following by buying raffle tickets;
– the average total amount donated in the last four weeks was £25 per adult;
– the most popular causes donated to were health and disability, followed by overseas aid or disaster relief;
– nearly half said they had upped the amount they donated since 2000, most commonly due to a rise in their level of disposable income;
– almost two-thirds (64 per cent) had heard of Gift Aid, but only a third (34 per cent) had used it to give tax-efficiently in the last year.
‘Helping Out’ is a one-off survey of volunteering and charitable giving which was commissioned by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in partnership with the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR).