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Young People and Volunteering in Scotland 2019

We've surveyed young people once more on their involvement and future interest in volunteering.

Average hours per volunteer are compared to the adult volunteering participation rate. The analysis challenges our current understanding of volunteer engagement and who contributes the most.


This research examines the nature and extent of volunteer participation and attitudes towards volunteering among young people (aged 11-18 years). It repeats our 2014 and 2016 research with Ipsos MORI with additional analysis on informal volunteering which reveals some striking findings.

Formal volunteering

  • A good news story – formal youth volunteer participation is 49%, nearly double the adult formal volunteer figure of 26%.
  • A further 17% of young people don’t volunteer but would like to in the future.
  • Over the last decade formal volunteering participation by young people has grown by 16%, from 33% in 2009 to 49% in 2019. Explanatory factors are likely to include both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors including the jobs market, awards and recognition and targeted support.
  • Girls are more likely to volunteer than boys (53% vs. 45%). Encouragingly, the volunteer engagement by young people with long-term health conditions is higher than those without such conditions (55% vs. 50%).
  • The reach of formal youth volunteering in the most deprived areas of Scotland is relatively good at 45% in SIMD quintile 1 compared to 54% for SIMD quintile 5.

Informal volunteering

  • Informal youth volunteering participation is 25%, 11% less than the adult formal volunteer figure of 36%. However, a significant proportion (31%) of young people didn’t know if they volunteered informally.
  • A further 23% of young people don’t volunteer informally but would like to in the future.
  • Like formal volunteering the engagement of young people in informal volunteering is higher for those with a long-term health condition compared to those without (31% vs. 25%).
  • However, the reach of informal volunteering in areas of deprivation is lower compared to less deprived areas (20% for SIMD quintiles 1 and 2 compared to 28%-29% for quintiles 3, 4 and 5).

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