‘More Than Half’ Help Charities

More than half of people have both volunteered and given to charity in the last 12 months, a survey suggests. The government study in England found 81% of those questioned had donated to charity in the last four weeks.

The most common reasons for being a volunteer were to improve things or help people, because the cause was important, and having spare time. The importance of the charity’s work and believing it is the right thing to do were the main reasons for giving.

Phil Hope, the minister covering charities and volunteer organisations, said: “This research shows that people, contrary to what many may think, are willing to help out, and nearly 60% have done so by formally volunteering in the past year. At the same time more money is being given to charity than ever before. This news is encouraging to anyone who believes, as I do, in the power and value of third sector organisations to change lives and communities for the better.”

The government has said that even more people could be encouraged to volunteer if they were offered the chance to receive formal training and qualifications in their chosen sector. Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 59% had volunteered in the last year, and 39% had done so at least monthly
  • 69% had volunteered in the last five years, at an estimated economic value of £38.9bn
  • Those most likely to volunteer were in the 34-44 and 55-64 age groups, women, the employed, and people of religious faith
  • The most common way to give to charity was in a collecting tin, followed by buying a raffle ticket
  • The average total amount donated in the last four weeks was £25 per adult
  • The most popular types of causes were health and disability, then overseas aid or disaster relief

Volunteering England acting chief executive, Justin Davis-Smith, an author of the report, said: “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.”

But he said there were still challenges to be addressed, not least how to encourage the remaining 40% of the population to volunteer. One of their key concerns was over time commitments, Mr Davis-Smith said.

“I think there’s a challenge for organisations to make sure that they don’t over commit their volunteers to start with to give them an opportunity to dip their toe in,” he added. He also said many people simply did not know how to go about volunteering, so organisations must do more to reach out to them.

The Helping Out survey of 2,705 people was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research with the help of the Institute for Volunteering Research. It found people giving their time to a whole range of sectors, including sport, health, prison visiting and the environment.