Survey Variable: Volunteering

Similarly to donating, respondents who indicated that they volunteered for at least one type of organisation were asked how frequently they did so, and roughly how much time they spent in each instance. Again, those who had indicated that they do not make donations were coded as such (rather than as missing values). Figures 1 and 2 (above, both using weighted data) show that almost four fifths of people (78.7%) do not undertake any volunteering.[1] Amongst those who do volunteer, more than half (constituting 11.3% overall) do so once a month or less often, though that still means that one in ten people (10.0%) volunteer most weeks or more often. The distribution is slightly different when considering how much time people spend volunteering, though the percentage who do not volunteer, of course, stays the same. One in twelve people (8.3%) give up between three and five hours each time they volunteer, and this category is followed in size by those who give up one or two hours (6.1%). Thus, people tend to volunteer infrequently but to give up a moderate amount of time when they do so.

Without needing to recode the variables, we can look at how the time spent breaks down by each category of frequency of volunteering, as shown in Figure 3 (below, also using weighted data). The amount of time given does not vary greatly by the frequency with which people volunteer. In all but one category of frequency (2-3 times a week, panel B), a plurality give between three and five hours each time they volunteer. One or two hours is generally the next largest category, although those who volunteer daily are very committed; two fifths of them (40.5%) give up six or more hours every time they volunteer.[2] With the exception of this group, most people who volunteer do so every now and then, and tend to give up a couple of hours or a morning or afternoon. As with donating, however, the number of people who engage in such activities means that political parties, trade unions and professional associations, campaign organisations, and charities receive a very large number of voluntary hours from their supporters.

Variable namespp_volfreq_ir, pp_voltime_r
Number of cases1,405
Number of categories6, 7
Categories to code as missingNone
Cases to code as missingNone
Variable details

[1] The weighted and unweighted numbers behind figures 1 and 2 can be found in tables 1A and 2A.

[2] Though we are dealing with a very small number of people; only 12 respondents (0.9% of the sample) indicated that they volunteered daily.

Published by joegreenwoodhau

Joe Greenwood-Hau is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Government & Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, where he works on the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond project.

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