The proportion of young people who volunteer has more than doubled in the past decade, according to new research published today.
A report from the voluntary sector consultancy nfpSynergy, called The New Alchemy: How Volunteering Turns Donations of Time and Talent into Human Gold, says the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who have volunteered in the previous three months has increased from 15 per cent in October 2004 to 33 per cent in July this year.
The research, based on a representative survey of 1,000 British adults, shows that overall volunteering levels are at a joint 10-year high, with 26 per cent of respondents saying they volunteered for a charity, organisation or in their local community in the past three months,
The 26 per cent figure has been reached only once before in the past decade – in May 2013 – and is an increase of seven percentage points since 2003.
The report says that volunteering by men is also at its highest level for 10 years and the proportion of men who have volunteered is higher than women for only the second time in the past decade.
The report says that 27 per cent of men say they volunteered, compared with 26 per cent of women.
Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said the report had highlighted some extraordinary changes. "It’s a really encouraging sign to see that so many more young people are volunteering and that the gap between men and women is narrowing," he said.
"However, all too often charities don’t think about how they can reach out to these groups. Targeting volunteer opportunities to appeal to different groups is essential to ensuring a steady supply of volunteers and capitalising on the skills they provide.
"The continued increase in volunteering is an encouraging sign, but keeping volunteers involved and engaged is another challenge."
The report’s findings are in contrast to the recent Community Life Survey, which found that volunteering in England and Wales had fallen in the past year.
The report, published in July, showed that 41 per cent of people reported doing formal volunteering in 2013/14 at least once a year, down from 44 per cent in the previous year, and 27 per cent at least once a month, down from 29 per cent.
Saxton said the differences could be attributed to different survey methods – face-to-face as opposed to nfpSynergy’s online survey – and nuances in the way questions were asked. He said that both surveys showed higher levels of volunteering overall.