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Volunteering is Increasing — Is the UK more charitable?


Volunteering is Increasing — Is the UK more charitable?

Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in people searching online for local volunteering opportunities — does this mean that the UK is becoming more selfless and willing to help others in need?

Positively trending

Of a survey of over 10,000 participants in 2019, NCVO reported that around four in 10 Britons take time to currently volunteer, and seven in 10 have done so at some point in their life.

It would seem that we volunteer more than those in Europe — in Italy, only 9% of the total population say that they’ve volunteered and 51% of Dutch 15-24-year olds engage in societal activities as a volunteer at least once a year.

In 2017, NfpSynergy reported that a large proportion of 16-24-year olds who volunteer has risen significantly over the past 13 years, up from 15% to 29%. A comparable percentage change was seen in 25-34-year olds over the same period. It can depend on which societal bracket people are from too, with those from higher socio-economic groups (ABC1) more likely to have volunteered recently than those from lower groups (C2DE).

Data from Google search supports this — when looking at search volume in the UK around the term “volunteering near me” from December 2017 to December 2018, the following data was captured:

Country Difference in search volume*
England +83%
Scotland +85%
Wales +85%
Northern Ireland +366%
United Kingdom +124%


Northern Ireland was home to the highest increase for the term in comparison to England, Scotland, and Wales. This could be down to the substantial push from male suicide campaigns to raise awareness and encourage fundraising, following the announcement that the country has the highest suicide rate in the UK. There is also a high level of competition for skilled positions in the country and volunteering is one way for people to differentiate themselves from the rest.

But , Why?

Are there other factors coming into play that encourage us to volunteer? Volunteering has now been acknowledged as part of the wider health policy, with the NHS five-year plan highlighting the need for community volunteering. This is down to the mental and physical health benefits that can be reaped from volunteering.

In NCVO’s research, participants also claimed that volunteering was good for their mental health, particularly with combatting loneliness. 77% of those surveyed revealed that volunteering had improved their mental health and 53% claimed their physical health had benefitted from the activity. 90% of participants felt that they made a difference through volunteer work and 89% claimed it led to them meeting new people, both of which may also be reasons in higher volunteering figures.

It’s true that many people decide to volunteer without motivation from others, however there’s also encouragement from schools, universities, and employers. NfpSynergy’s findings also revealed that volunteering rates peaked at 33% among 16-24-year olds in 2013/14 but in 2017 this peak was also discovered in 24 to 34-year olds. This suggests that people who began volunteering at school and university are continuing to do so as they get older. It could be that people do need an extra push to start giving back but when they do, they realise the benefits.

Employer encouragement appears to be effective, with 10% of volunteers giving their time via employer-supported volunteering. As company’s push to better their workforce and company, volunteering has been realised as a great way to improve mental health and get the brand involved in local causes. For example, men’s shirts retailer CT Shirts allows their employees one day volunteering per year to encourage them to get involved with the local community. Similarly, Accenture, a large consulting firm, provide their staff with three corporate volunteering days to help a charity.

Hopefully realising the benefits of charity and volunteering will encourage others to help too — after all, it’s good for our mental health too.


*Percentage difference is between number of searches for ‘volunteering near me’ in December 2017 and number of searches in December 2018.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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