Volunteering for All: national framework - research summary

This summary outlines a systematic review of the research literature on volunteering.


This summary outlines a systematic review of the research literature on volunteering. The purpose of this review is to inform the development of a Volunteering Outcomes Framework to support the critical role that volunteering plays in Scotland for volunteers, beneficiaries and wider communities.

The Scottish Government’s (2018) newly reviewed National Performance Framework (NPF) has the overall purpose of building opportunities for all through increased wellbeing through sustainable and inclusive economic growth led by values such as kindness, dignity, compassion and transparency. The third sector in Scotland has a role in supporting the 11 National Outcomes, which include: ‘We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe’; ‘We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society’; and ‘We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential’ (see Appendix One for full visualisation). The National Outcome focusing on inclusive communities specifically mentions volunteering within its vision.

From the Scottish Household Survey we know that levels of volunteering have remained relatively stable over the last nine years, with around three in ten adults providing unpaid help to organisations or groups. In 2017, 28 per cent of adults provided unpaid help to organisations or groups in the last 12 months.

The Scottish Government’s objective in developing the Volunteering Outcomes Framework is to:

  • Set out clearly and in one place a coherent and compelling narrative; 
  • Define the key outcomes desired for volunteering in Scotland;
  • Identify the key data and evidence that will inform, indicate and drive performance at national and local level; and 
  • Allow informed debate and decision about the optimal combination of programmes, investments and interventions. 

The Framework is being developed with the sector and is informed by evidence gathered by the Scottish Government and key delivery and strategic partners, and enriched by a series of internal and external engagements and by specific commissions, including this literature review.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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