Volunteer Participation

To better understand the volunteering landscape, we’ve been analysing the Scottish Household Survey data (2007 – 2013).


A collection of survey evidence


We know that volunteering contributes to Scotland’s economic and social prosperity: more than 1.2 million people volunteered last year and contributed an estimated £2.6 billion to Scotland’s economy. It's crucial to remember that volunteering does so much more than this; bringing significant indivdual and societal well-being benefits too. 

Understanding the volunteering landscape in Scotland is very important as we are currently working in a rapidly changing environment which presents both opportunities and challenges for volunteering in Scotland.

To better understand the volunteering landscape, we’ve been analysing the Scottish Household Survey data (2007 – 2013). Our initial findings are presented here; with much more to come. So, watch this space!

For further information on the details of this analysis, please see our technical note and data tables.


Important Findings

  • Overall levels of volunteering have been declining - from 31% in 2010 to 28% in 2013; but the stable numbers of regular volunteers is promising
  • The majority (72%) of people are not currently volunteering, but some do have past experience to build on
  • A core group of people (6%) contribute the majority (66%) of all volunteer hours


So what?

These findings raise some important questions for policy and practice. We know that more and more is being asked of people to volunteer their time - for example, a number of Scottish Government policies assume that people can and will do more to deliver public services locally.

But volunteering overall is in decline, with a fairly low number (18%) providing regular help (at least monthly). How can we reverse this overall trend? And where will potential growth come from?  So that those who are willing can be supported to volunteer and enjoy the many benefits that volunteering can bring.  

If the majority of people are not volunteering and a core group are doing the majority of hours, we have to ask ourselves whether the current approach to volunteer involvement is working. Also, is this a sustainable position? And what can we all do to encourage and support more people to volunteer?


Now what?

We want to engage you in a conversation about what these findings mean and what’s needed to increase and improve volunteering in Scotland. We will also be carrying out more analysis to understand the volunteering landscape and producing a series of presentation reports – for example, who makes up the volunteer core and what do they do?


Get in touch!

If you would like to be part of this conversation, and/or help inform our analysis and shape our future work on this, then please do get in touch.