National volunteering rate hits six-year low, Community Life Survey finds

The DCMS-run survey also reveals that the percentage of people who donate to charity has stagnated

The percentage of the English population that volunteers at least once a year has dropped to its lowest point in six years, according to the government’s Community Life Survey for 2018/19.

The survey says that only 36 per cent of adults over the age of 16 took part in formal volunteering – defined as unpaid help given through clubs or organisations – once a year.

In comparison, 45 per cent of adults did so in 2013/14, and 38 per cent did so in last year’s survey.

The Community Life Survey is run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and is based on a sample of more than 10,000 people.

The survey says that 75 per cent of respondents gave to charitable causes in the four weeks before completing the survey, down from 82 per cent in 2013/14 but the same level as 2017/18 and 2016/17.

But the average amount given reached a high of £24, compared with £22 in four of the previous five years.

Researchers found that 37 per cent of people said they would start donating to charity or would give a greater amount if they had more money.

Collection tins and charity shops were the most popular way of donating, while medical research charities and hospices and hospitals were the most popular causes to donate to.

Twenty-two per cent of people volunteered at least once a month, the same level as the previous two years but below the 27 per cent of 2013/14.

Monthly formal volunteering was found to be especially low among 25 to 34-year-olds, with only 15 per cent of that age bracket volunteering once a month or more, and only 29 per cent doing so once a year.

People aged 65 to 74 were found to be the most likely to volunteer at least once a month, at 28 per cent, and 35 to 49-year-olds were the most likely to have volunteered at least once in the past year, with 40 per cent having done so.

The survey says that work commitments and a busy social life were the biggest barriers to formal volunteering, while wanting to improve things and the importance of the cause were the biggest reasons for people opting to volunteer.

People in the richest areas of England were more likely to volunteer than those in the most deprived areas, according to the survey.

People in rural areas were more likely than city dwellers to volunteer formally, with 29 per cent doing so once a month compared with 20 per cent of urbanites.

The inhabitants of the south east and south west were more likely to volunteer than those anywhere else in England. The north east was the region with the lowest levels of formal volunteering, according to the survey.

The rate of monthly volunteering was similar for men and women, but the latter were more likely to have volunteered over the year.

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