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Volunteer Levels Static - New Report

29 January 2008 at 3:08 pm
Staff Reporter
Volunteering levels have been fluctuating (18-20%) but remained broadly flat since 2003, with a notable slump amongst 54-64 year olds according to a new UK report.

Staff Reporter | 29 January 2008 at 3:08 pm


Volunteer Levels Static - New Report
29 January 2008 at 3:08 pm

Volunteering levels have been fluctuating (18-20%) but remained broadly flat since 2003, with a notable slump amongst 54-64 year olds according to a new UK report.

Over the past six years volunteering levels increased from 2001 to 2003 (from 16% in 2001 to 20% in 2004) and then have hovered around the 19% level since then – with the peak at 20% in 2004.

This small increase overall however masks some much more pronounced increases and decreases in volunteering across different demographic groups:

– Women are still more likely to volunteer than men (16% vs. 21%) and there has been little change in this gap since 2001
– Volunteering has increased among 16-44s and levels have remained flat among 45-54s and 65+s. Notably 45-54s is the only age group among which volunteering has shown an overall decrease.

Leading NFP sector think tank and research consultancy nfpSynergy’s has published British Volunteering 2001-2007 which draws upon a representative sample of 3000 16+ year olds throughout Britain, tracking who volunteered, how and how often, throughout 2001-2007.

Almost one in five (19%) people volunteered their time in 2007 – most commonly (10%) by specifically supporting a charity/voluntary organisation, trailed (6%) by playing a community role such as a school governor.

Moreover, there has in fact been a slight broad trend, since 2003, away from volunteering for charity/voluntary organisations, towards taking on community roles.

In 2007, some of the old stereotypes about who volunteers still apply:
– Women (21%, vs 16% men),
– Higher social grades
– Older age groups (20%, 45-54 years; vs 16% 16-24 years),
– Donors (21%; vs 11% non-donors – it thus, in fact, being a myth that people generally give time instead of money)
– Worshipers (29%; vs 15% non-worshippers – regular worshippers thus being twice as likely to volunteer as those who are not) are still more likely to volunteer.

Interestingly for the British, their Government’s spend on volunteering bears little relation to demographic shifts. Although current demographic differences are less pronounced than in 2001, volunteering amongst 25-34 year olds, who have hardly been targeted, rose from 11% in 2001 to 18% in 2007; whilst amongst 54-64 year olds, who have been targeted, levels have slumped by a third, from 23% in 2001 to 16% in 2007.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton says that since 2003, volunteering levels in Britain have been fluctuating but broadly flat. Moreover, in some age demographics – notably older ones, and despite targeted campaigns – levels have notably slumped; whilst they have risen amongst other far less targeted groups, like 25-34 year olds.

He says the Government’s strategy bears little relation to trends; and has failed to deliver rising volunteer numbers thus far.

The report can be downloaded at:

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