Kickstarting a New Volunteer Revolution
As the Volunteer Coordinator, I recently attended a charity talk at Cass Business School with the theme of volunteering in the charity sector. It was a real in depth talk and proved extremely interesting. One thing that was discussed was the research study commissioned by Royal Voluntary Service; to understand why people decide to volunteer and what can be done to encourage others to volunteer. The research results were analysed and put into a report written by Dr. Justin Davis-Smith, Nick Ockenden and Dr. Helen Timbrell, with support from Cass Business School. I have taken some snippets from the report, which focuses on the national survey section of the research for your reading.
Optimum Research was enlisted to carry out a representative national survey of the UK adult population. Four thousand people over the age of 18 were asked a series of questions about volunteering – whether or not they took part, the routes in, benefits, drawbacks and barriers to engagement. The questions were modelled on those used in other major national surveys, particularly the Community Life Survey, with the aim of providing some measure of comparability although the authors are aware that even minor differences in methodology and question wording make exact comparisons impossible. Surveys were carried out in September 2018. To complement the survey data, five qualitative interviews were carried out in September and October 2018, with first time volunteers.
The results are compelling and provide a platform for the development of a strategy, not just within the Royal Voluntary Service, but the wider volunteer movement, for recruiting a cadre of first timers to kick- start a new revolution in volunteering.
In line with other studies, our figures suggest that the majority of the UK population (56%) has volunteered at some stage in their lives, although a significant (44%) have never been involved. This latter figure is higher than other studies, and it is possible that when answering respondents had forgotten about volunteering they had carried out in the past. But whatever the exact figure, our study suggests a significant proportion have either never volunteered, or volunteered so long ago or at such a low level, that they have forgotten about it. Just over two percent of the adult population volunteered for the first time in 2018 according to the survey, representing over 1.1 million new volunteers of over 22 million potential new recruits. And even based on Kamerades estimate of 13 percent, this still leaves almost seven million adults in the UK left to volunteer.
The Key Benefits of Volunteering
The key benefits of Volunteering cited by those who had been involved were as follows:
• Felt more useful (60%)
• More fulfilled (56%)
• Increased social aware (53%)
• Felt more connected to the local community (52%)
• Enabled them to access to new friends (52%)
• Felt more positive (51%)
• Increased feelings of happiness (49%)
The reasons given for not Volunteering
The main reasons for not Volunteering by those had never been involved were as follows:
• Work Commitments (26%)
• Never thought about it (23%)
• No spare time (23%)
• Not aware of any opportunities (10%)
The full research report is available to read via the following link: