Impact of COVID-19 on Scottish volunteering – latest insights

12 October 2020

Volunteer Scotland has just completed a detailed analysis of two surveys investigating the impact of COVID-19 on both volunteers and the third sector. This evidence supplements the summary presentations we shared in the summer.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Third Sector in Scotland

We deep-mined the TSI Scotland Network survey data to reveal penetrating new insights on volunteer recruitment and volunteer management:

  • The largest organisations employing 100+ staff are the ones most likely to want more volunteers (21% of 3rd sector organisations) but they are also the ones struggling the most to secure volunteers (14%);
  • The recruitment of volunteers has varied widely based on the type of beneficiaries being supported. For example, 23% of organisations supporting people with autism are struggling to recruit volunteers; compared to 0% of organisations supporting women;
  • The proportion of third sector organisations which would like to recruit more volunteers varies by local authority area – to the highest proportion in Angus (25%), South Ayrshire (22%) and Dundee (22%) – to local authority areas where the lowest proportion of third sector organisations would like to recruit – Orkney (13%), Shetland (13%) and Glasgow (12%).
  • The adverse impacts of COVID-19 on mental health and loneliness are the effects third sector organisations are most concerned about – this applies to voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises – both now and in the future.
  • Volunteer management was the least cited category of support sought by third sector organisations (6%) compared to those wanting help with money (47%) and with advice on funding/fundraising (29%). Furthermore, only 2% of organisations are struggling to access advice on managing volunteers.

View full results 


Impact of COVID-19 on volunteer participation in Scotland

The data from the Ipsos-Mori survey of adults aged 16+ commissioned by Volunteer Scotland in June 2020 have been been analysed further to reveal that: 

  • Although formal volunteering participation during lockdown was low (13% of adults), analysis of SIMD Quintiles shows that there is a ‘J’ curve function, with engagement lowest in Quintile 2 at 6% compared to 13% for Quintile 1. The highest engagement was Quintile 5 at 18%. A similar dip in Quintile 2 participation occurs in the predicted volunteering rates after COVID-19.
  • For formal volunteering, informal volunteering and mutual aid predicted participation rates post-COVID are highest for those aged 16-24 (58%, 64% and 44% respectively). This contrasts with the highest participation historically coming from the 35-44 age group in Scotland. This mid-life age group has had the highest particiation rate in 11 out of the last 12 years (Scottish Household Survey).
  • Predicted volunteering participation rates post-COVID are highest for those in further or higher education across all three categories of volunteering: formal volunteering (64%), informal volunteering (69%) and mutual aid (45%). There is a potential correlation between this finding and the increased interest in volunteering for those in the 16-24 year-old age group.

View full results

We would welcome your views: