Scotland Cares volunteering polls

29 May 2020

We’ve conducted 2 polls with Scotland Cares volunteers which ask questions around what's happened since they 'signed up'. Here's what we've learned...  

Each poll was conducted online and promoted through a weekly update email sent out by Volunteer Scotland to ‘our’ Scotland Cares volunteers (approx. 35k). Poll 1 was sent on the 9th of May and was completed by 885 individuals; Poll 2 was sent on the 23rd of May, 468 individuals participated.

Poll 1 - What's happened since SIGNING UP as a coronavirus volunteer?


Poll 1 Graph 1


This initial poll sought to understand what’s been happening with volunteers in the time since they signed up for the Scotland Cares campaign. More than a quarter (26%) of those that responded have volunteered; most have ‘volunteered in other ways’, closely followed by ‘volunteering in the community e.g. delivering food’ and/or ‘volunteering from home e.g. kindness calling’.  

In particular, we’re interested in whether volunteers were contacted / engaged at a local level by local volunteer centre who we’ve been sharing sign up data with (with permission). For the majority (around 7 in 10) this engagement has happened. It’s also evident that contact with the local volunteer centre (including completing a registration form) does not equate to increased volunteering (so far) as similar levels of volunteers and non-volunteers have been contacted in these ways.

Detailed findings

Poll 1 Graph 2


Around a quarter (26%) of our sample mention having volunteered, 76% have not. In more detail:

  • Of those that have volunteered around half (51%) have ‘volunteered in other ways’, 45% have ‘volunteered in the community’ and 41% have ‘volunteered from home’ (respondents can select more than one option). Furthermore, 64% of those volunteering had been contacted by their local volunteer centre or completed a volunteering registration form.
  • Of those that haven’t volunteered, 47% responded as ‘not having volunteered’, whilst for the other 53% we derived this position as they made no mention of having volunteered. 67% those that haven’t volunteered had been contacted by their local volunteer centre or completed a volunteering registration form.


Poll 2 - You've SIGNED UP as a coronavirus volunteer, what's happened in the last 2 weeks?


Poll 2 Graph 1


This second poll looked broadly at what’s changed in the two weeks since the initial poll. The expectation (and the messaging that’s been provided to Scotland Cares volunteers) is that more volunteering opportunities will occur over time. This is the first poll which sought to ascertain whether the reality meets this expectation. Interestingly, there is now a higher level of volunteering than in the initial poll (45% have volunteered in Poll 2 vs. 26% in Poll 1). However, is this enough on its own for us to be confident that volunteering has now increased amongst Scotland Cares volunteers? We think not, see Poll Constraints below.

There appears to be some consistency between both polls on at least one key aspect; around 50% of the volunteers in each of the polls:

  • ‘volunteer in other ways’ from poll 1
  • provide ‘unpaid help as an individual’ from poll 2.

Are these categorisations synonymous; could the ‘other volunteering’ categorisation from poll 1 be interpreted as ‘unpaid help provided as an individual’ from poll 2? 

There is also some read across between this poll and the mutual aid phenomenon where 11% of poll respondents had volunteered through a local network e.g. Facebook or whatsapp group.

Finally, there is a high level of desire to volunteer amongst the non-volunteer respondents (around 9 in 10 are keen to volunteer in future) and an encouraging 68% would consider volunteering that’s not directly related to COVID-19. This suggests that many who are not yet volunteering, would be interested in a wider range of opportunities over time.    


Detailed findings

Poll 2 Graph 2


Around 45% identified as having volunteered ‘with a group or organisation OR helped someone who is not a relative’, 55% have not. In more detail:

  • Of those that have volunteered around half (50%) have provided unpaid help as an individual. 40% have volunteered with a group or organisation directly involved in the COVID-19 response. 25% have volunteered with a group or organisation not directly involved. 11% have provided unpaid help organized by a local network (e.g. a mutual aid group).
  • Of those that haven’t volunteered, 81% would volunteer with a group or organisation that’s directly involved in the COVID-19 response whilst 68% would volunteer with a group or organisation not directly involved. 69% would provide unpaid help as an individual to someone who is not a relative.


Qualitative analysis


Poll Constraints

  • Any poll is constrained by the number and the representative nature of those that have responded. The larger the sample population the more confident we can be around the results. If we assume a truly random sample in Poll 1 and Poll 2, the confidence levels would be +/- 3.25 and +/- 4.5 respectively (at 95% confidence interval). So we can be certain that a result from poll 1 of 50% actually lies between 46.75% and 53.25%, if this is a truly random / representative sample.
  • There are many reasons why these polls may not be representative of the wider population (35k). For example, there is an inherent bias towards those more inclined to complete polls of this type (a limitation for any poll). There is decreasing engagement with email communications over time (due to factors such as comms fatigue and increasing frustration around not finding a volunteering opportunity). We expect that the latter may be felt more profoundly for non-volunteers than volunteers (who are less likely to feel frustrated).
  • Some of the messaging to Scotland Cares sign ups (nationally and locally) has emphasised sign ups to think of themselves as volunteers e.g. ‘remember by signing up you are a volunteer’. Whilst this underlines the value of their response to the call through Ready Scotland, it can cause confusion with regard to answering questions around whether they've volunteered or not.