11 Volunteering

Main Findings

In 2018, 48 per cent of adults provided unpaid help through formal and / or informal volunteering in the last 12 months.

Levels of formal volunteering have remained relatively stable over the last 10 years, with around three in 10 adults providing unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations. In 2018, 26 per cent of adults had provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months.

In 2018, 36 per cent of adults provided unpaid help through informal volunteering.

The profile of formal volunteers has also remained relatively stable over time and the profile of informal volunteers is similar to that of formal volunteers. Volunteers were more likely to be:

  • women
  • from higher income groups
  • from rural areas
  • from less deprived areas.

There is variation in formal volunteering according to individuals’ current economic situation with around one-third of those in ‘part-time employment’, those in ‘education (including HE/FE)’ and those who are ‘self-employed’ most likely to have provided unpaid help compared to 12 per cent of adults who are ‘permanently sick or have short-term ill-health issues or are disabled’. Similarly for informal volunteering, around 40 per cent of those in ‘part-time employment’, those ‘self-employed’ and those in ‘full-time employment’, alongside those ‘looking after home / family’ were most likely to have informally volunteered compared to 19 per cent of adults who are ‘permanently sick or have short-term ill-health issues or are disabled.’

The types of organisations most commonly formally volunteered for were ‘youth or children’s activities outside schools’ (24 per cent), ‘local community or neighbourhood groups’ (21 per cent) and ‘children’s education and schools’ organisations (20 per cent).

More women than men volunteered with ‘children’s education and schools’ (26 and 13 per cent respectively), ‘youth or children’s activities outside schools’ (25 and 22 per cent respectively) and ‘religion and belief’ (17 and 13 per cent respectively). In contrast, more men than women volunteered with ‘hobbies and recreation’ (20 and 12 per cent respectively) and ‘physical activity, sport and exercise’ (19 and 11 per cent respectively).

Younger adults were more likely to formally volunteer with ‘youth or children’s activities outside school’ than older adults, whilst older adults were more likely to volunteer for ‘local community or neighbourhood’ and ‘religion or belief’ organisations.

The most common unpaid activity undertaken whilst formally volunteering was ‘generally helping out as required’ (55 per cent). In terms of specific unpaid activities, ‘fundraising’ (28 per cent) was most commonly undertaken followed by ‘acting as a committee member or Trustee’ (25 per cent).

Fifty per cent of adults who formally volunteered did so regularly; 22 per cent do so ‘several times a week’ and 28 per cent do so ‘about once a week’. Seventy per cent of formal volunteers in Scotland provided unpaid help for 10 hours or less in the last four weeks.

Seventy-two per cent of adults who had not undertaken voluntary work in the last 12 months said that ‘nothing’ would encourage them to undertake voluntary work in the future.

For informal volunteering, the most common unpaid activities were ‘keeping in touch with someone who is at risk of being lonely’ (18 per cent), ‘babysitting or looking after children’ (15 per cent), ‘doing shopping, collecting pension or paying bills’ (12 per cent) and ‘routine household chores’ (11 per cent).

Women were more likely than men to help by ‘babysitting or looking after children’, whilst men were more likely than women to help with ‘car or home maintenance or repairs.’

Fifty-eight per cent of adults who informally volunteered did so regularly; 28 per cent did so ‘several times a week’ and 30 per cent did so ‘about once a week’. Sixty-five per cent of informal volunteers in Scotland provided unpaid help for 10 hours or less in the last four weeks.

11.1 Introduction and Context

The Scottish Government recognises that volunteering matters and volunteers of all ages form a valuable national resource, vital to the success of Scotland. Volunteering is a key component of strong communities, community empowerment and strengthening public services. Volunteering is all about new experiences, feeling good and making a difference and the evidence[120] base is clear on the benefits of volunteering, in terms of:

  • physical health benefits – the evidence suggests that volunteering can promote healthy lifestyle and improve self-rated health;
  • social benefits – research finds that volunteering can improve companionship, tackle social isolation and increase social capital;
  • mental wellbeing – evidence shows that volunteering can improve confidence, purpose and life satisfaction; and,
  • instrumental benefits – volunteering can help people to develop new skills, gain knowledge, develop attitudes and increase employability.

Over 2018, the Scottish Government developed “Volunteering for All – Our National Framework”[121] (see Diagram 11.1) jointly with partners from: the volunteer and community sector, local government and NHS, academics, social researchers, and with volunteers. The Framework recognises that “volunteering” is a choice. A choice to give time or energy, a choice undertaken of one’s own free will and a choice not motivated for financial gain or for a wage or salary. In developing the Framework, the term volunteering is used to describe the wide range of ways in which people help out, get involved, volunteer and participate in their communities (both communities of interest and communities of place). These contributions range from the very formal such as volunteering with public sector bodies and community councils, engaging with local clubs and charitable / community organisations, getting involved with local activism or helping out with community activity, to very informal participation such as helping a neighbour with their bins or bringing shopping in from the car.

Recognising the wide range of volunteering contributions, new biennial questions on informal volunteering[122] were included for the first time in the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) 2018. This chapter presents the findings from the 2018 data by firstly presenting the overall prevalence rate for adults who have been involved in any volunteering[123] (formal and informal) in the last 12 months. Secondly, the chapter discusses the data in the context of formal volunteering, around: prevalence of providing unpaid help; the type of clubs, groups or organisations for which individuals give up their time; the activities which individuals undertake; time spent formally volunteering in the past month; and what would encourage people who currently do not volunteer to provide unpaid help in the future. Thirdly, the 2018 data is presented in the context of informal volunteering, around: prevalence of providing unpaid help; the activities which individuals undertake and time spent in the past month informally volunteering. Some of the data has been explored in terms of differences in relation to: gender, age, current economic situation, net annual household income, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), and Urban / Rural Classification.

Diagram 11.1: “Volunteering for All – Our National Framework”

Diagram 11.1: “Volunteering for All – Our National Framework”

11.2 Prevalence of Volunteering in Scotland

Table 11.1 shows that 48 per cent of adults provided unpaid help through formal and / or informal volunteering in the last 12 months. Of these, 14 per cent of adults provided unpaid help through both formal and informal volunteering, 12 per cent through formal volunteering only, and 22 per cent through informal volunteering only.

Table 11.1: Whether involved in any unpaid help in the last 12 months
Column percentages, 2018 data

Adults Men Women Identified in another way Refused All
Yes, some type of volunteering 46 50 * * 48
of which:
Both formal and informal volunteering 13 15 * * 14
Formal volunteering only 12 13 * * 12
Informal volunteering only 21 22 * * 22
No volunteering 54 50 * * 52
Total 100 100 * * 100
Base 4,320 5,380 0 0 9,700

When considering formal volunteering and informal volunteering separately, Table 11.2 shows that 26 per cent of adults provided unpaid help formally to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months, and Table 11.12 shows that 36 per cent provided unpaid help through informal volunteering.

11.3 Formal Volunteering: Providing Unpaid Help to Groups, Clubs or Organisations

11.3.1 Prevalence of Providing Unpaid Help

Table 11.2 shows that 26 per cent of adults provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months. There is a difference along gender lines with a higher percentage of women (28 per cent) saying that they provided unpaid help compared with men (25 per cent).

Table 11.2: Whether provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by gender
Column percentages, 2018 data

Adults Men Women Identified in another way Refused All
Yes 25 28 * * 26
No 75 72 * * 74
Total 100 100 * * 100
Base 4,320 5,380 0 0 9,700

Figure 11.1 shows the trend in volunteering over the past 10 years. It can be seen that the overall rate of formal volunteering has remained relatively stable over the time period with the proportion of women volunteering being consistently higher than men.

Figure 11.1: Percentage providing unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by gender[124]
2009-2018 data, Adults (minimum base: 2,450)

Figure 11.1: Percentage providing unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by gender

Figure 11.2 shows the difference in volunteering by age and gender. In 2018, there was a difference between women and men within the 35 to 44 age group, where 37 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men volunteered.

Volunteering was lowest among men aged 25 to 34 compared to all of the other age groups under 75. After the age of 75, providing unpaid help declined, particularly for women (18 per cent).

Figure 11.2: Percentage providing unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by age within gender[125]
2018 data, Adults (minimum base: 680)

Figure 11.2: Percentage providing unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by age within gender

There is also variation in volunteering according to individuals’ current economic situation (Table 11.3). Those in ‘part-time employment’, those in ‘education (including HE/FE)’, and those who are ‘self-employed’ were most likely to have provided unpaid help (34, 32, and 32 per cent respectively). Adults who are ‘permanently sick or have short-term ill-health issues or are disabled’ (12 per cent) were least likely to have volunteered.

Table 11.3: Whether provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by current economic situation
Column percentages, 2018 data

Adults Self -employed Full-time employment Part-time employment Looking after home / family Permanently retired from work Unemployed and seeking work In Education (including HE/FE) Permanently sick or short term ill health or disabled All
Yes 32 25 34 23 26 26 32 12 26
No 68 75 66 77 74 74 68 88 74
All 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 590 3,140 990 380 3,260 320 390 610 9,700

Table 11.4 shows the differences in volunteering by household income. In general, the percentage of adults who volunteered increased with income. Around a fifth (23 per cent) of adults in households in the lowest net income bands, £0-£20,000, volunteered in the last 12 months, compared to just over one-third (34 per cent) of those with a net household income of more than £40,000.

Table 11.4: Whether provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by net annual household income[126]
Column percentages, 2018 data

Adults £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 - £15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
Yes 23 18 20 22 25 26 29 34 27
No 77 82 80 78 75 74 71 66 73
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 220 720 1,530 1,480 1,170 890 1,270 2,030 9,300

Figure 11.3 shows the prevalence of volunteering by level of deprivation, as defined using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Levels of volunteering increased as area deprivation decreased, 20 per cent of adults in the 20 per cent most deprived areas volunteered in 2018 compared to 31 per cent in the 20 per cent least deprived areas.

Figure 11.3: Percentage of adults who provided unpaid help to group, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles
2018 data, Adults (minimum base: 1,770)

Figure 11.3: Percentage of adults who provided unpaid help to group, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles

Table 11.5 shows differences in volunteering by Urban / Rural classification. It can be seen that the rate of volunteering in rural areas was higher than in urban areas, with 34 per cent of adults in remote rural areas and 31 per cent in accessible rural areas saying they provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations compared to around a quarter of adults in large and other urban areas (24 per cent and 26 per cent respectively).

Table 11.5: Whether provided unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the last 12 months by Urban / Rural Classification
Column percentages, 2018 data

Adults Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural Scotland
Yes 24 26 28 25 31 34 26
No 76 74 72 75 69 66 74
All 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 2,970 3,250 840 580 1,030 1,030 9,700

The findings from the SHS 2018 data on economic situation, household income and area deprivation continue to support existing evidence[127] about the under-representation of disadvantaged groups in volunteering.

11.3.2 Types of Organisations Unpaid Help Provided to

Table 11.6 shows that the most common types of organisations which volunteers helped with were ‘youth or children’s activities outside schools’ (24 per cent), followed by ‘local community or neighbourhood groups’ (21 per cent) and ‘children’s education and schools’ (20 per cent). The least common types of organisations which volunteers helped with were ‘politics’, ‘emergency services, first aid and public saftey’ (both three per cent), and ‘trade unions, justice and human rights’ (four per cent).

Table 11.6 also shows the variation in the types of organisations that adults volunteered with by Urban / Rural Classification. A higher percentage of adults in accessible small towns (31 per cent) provided unpaid help to ‘youth or children’s activities outside school’ compared to around one-fifth in other urban (22 per cent) and remote rural (21 per cent) areas.

It can also be seen that a higher percentage of adults in remote rural areas (39 per cent) provided unpaid help to ‘local community or neighbourhood’ organisations compared to large and other urban areas (17 per cent and 16 per cent respectively).

A lower percentage of adults who lived in accessible small towns (14 per cent) provided unpaid help to ‘children’s education and schools’ compared to those who lived in urban areas (22 and 21 per cent in large and other urban areas).

A higher percentage provided unpaid help to ‘health, disability and wellbeing’ organisations in large urban (18 per cent), other urban (20 per cent) and remote rural (18 per cent) areas compared to accessible small towns (11 per cent) and remote small towns (10 per cent).

Providing unpaid help to ’hobbies and recreation’ organisations was highest in accessible small towns (21 per cent) and lowest in large and other urban areas (both 14 per cent).

A higher percentage of adults in accessible small towns provided unpaid help to ‘religious groups’ (22 per cent) compared to large urban areas (13 per cent).

Table 11.6: Types of groups, clubs or organisations for which adults provided unpaid help for in the last 12 months by Urban / Rural Classification
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural Scotland
Children’s education and schools 22 21 14 21 20 18 20
Youth or children’s activities outside school 25 22 31 21 23 21 24
Health, disability and wellbeing 18 20 11 10 14 18 17
Physical activity, sport and exercise 14 15 12 16 15 13 15
Local community or neighbourhood 17 16 22 30 30 39 21
Religion and belief 13 16 22 17 15 16 15
Hobbies and recreation 14 14 21 19 18 20 16
Groups aimed at supporting older people 5 7 6 14 6 10 7
Politics 4 3 4 5 2 2 3
Trade Unions, justice and human rights 6 4 4 3 4 2 4
Environmental protection 5 5 5 5 6 9 6
Culture and heritage 6 3 6 8 5 12 5
Emergency services, first aid and public safety 2 4 1 3 2 5 3
Adult guidance, advice and learning 6 4 6 7 3 7 5
Animal welfare 5 5 8 7 6 8 6
Other 1 2 1 - 1 0 1
Don't know 2 1 2 1 4 3 2
Base 700 820 230 170 310 380 2,590

Table 11.7 shows the types of organisations that adults volunteered with in the last
12 months by gender and age. Women were most likely to volunteer with ‘children’s education and schools’ (26 per cent) and ‘youth or children’s activities outside school’ (25 per cent). Men were most likely to have volunteered with ‘youth or children’s activities outside school’ (22 per cent), followed by ‘hobbies and recreation’ and ‘physical activity, sport and exercise’ organisations (20 and 19 per cent respectively).

There were differences along gender lines with more women than men volunteering with ‘children’s education and schools’ (26 and 13 per cent respectively), ‘youth or children’s activities outsides school’ (25 and 22 per cent respectively) and ‘religion and belief’ (17 and 13 per cent respectively). In contrast, more men than women volunteered with ‘hobbies and recreation’ (20 and 12 per cent respectively) and ‘physical activity, sport and exercise’ (19 and 11 per cent respectively).

Providing help with ‘youth or children’s activities outside school’ (40 per cent) was most common among adults aged 16 to 24 and for those aged 25 to 34 (23 per cent) and 45 to 59 (26 per cent). Providing help to ‘children’s education and schools’ was most common among adults aged 35 to 44 (39 per cent). Adults aged 60 to 74 and 75 plus were most likely to have volunteered with ‘local community or neighbourhood’ organisations (29 and 27 per cent respectively) and ‘religion or belief’ organisations (25 and 29 per cent respectively).

Volunteering for ‘religious and belief’ organisations and working with ‘groups aimed at supporting older people’ increased with age, as did volunteering with ‘local community or neighbourhood’ organisations.

Table 11.7: Types of groups, clubs or organisations for which adults provided unpaid help for in the last 12 months by gender and age
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Men Women Identified in another way 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
Children’s education and schools 13 26 * 17 21 39 21 10 4 20
Youth or children’s activities outside school 22 25 * 40 23 33 26 11 9 24
Health, disability and wellbeing 16 18 * 16 15 14 20 19 15 17
Physical activity, sport and exercise 19 11 * 16 14 15 18 12 6 15
Local community or neighbourhood 21 21 * 11 14 20 21 29 27 21
Religion and belief 13 17 * 7 9 12 13 25 29 15
Hobbies and recreation 20 12 * 19 16 10 16 17 20 16
Groups aimed at supporting older people 5 8 * 2 3 4 8 9 11 7
Politics 4 3 * 4 4 2 4 3 3 3
Trade Unions, justice and human rights 5 3 * 6 7 3 4 3 4 4
Environmental protection 6 5 * 5 4 5 7 7 3 6
Culture and heritage 6 5 * 3 3 5 5 9 8 5
Emergency services, first aid and public safety 3 3 * 3 3 3 3 2 2 3
Adult guidance, advice and learning 5 5 * 2 4 5 5 7 3 5
Animal welfare 4 7 * 7 6 5 8 4 3 6
Other 1 1 * 1 0 1 1 1 2 1
None 0 0 * 1 - - 0 - - 0
Don't know 1 3 * 3 2 2 2 2 3 2
Base 1,070 1,520 0 170 310 450 670 740 260 2,590

Table 11.8> shows the type of unpaid work or activities that adults undertook on behalf of the group, club or organisation they gave the most help to in the last 12 months. The most common unpaid activity was ‘generally helping out as required’, with 55 per cent of adults who volunteered doing this type of activity. In terms of more specific roles, 28 per cent of adults helped by ‘fundraising’, 25 per cent helped by ‘acting as a committee member or Trustee’, and 21 per cent helped by undertaking ‘office or administrative work’ and ‘providing education, training or coaching’.

A higher proportion of women (10 per cent) were involved in ‘visiting, buddying or befriending’ compared to men (seven per cent). A higher proportion of men were involved in ‘providing education, training or coaching’ (24 per cent) compared to women (19 per cent). A higher proportion of men (17 per cent) were also involved in ‘providing advice, support or advocacy’ compared to women (12 per cent).

After ‘generally helping out as required’ the next most common activity across all age groups under 60 was ‘fundraising.’ Being involved in ‘providing education, training or coaching’ was most common for the 16 to 24 age group (29 per cent) and the 25 to 34 age group (25 per cent), whereas ‘acting as a committee member or Trustee’ was most common for older age groups (36 per cent for those over 60 years of age).

Table 11.8: Types of unpaid activity adults have undertaken in the last 12 months by gender and age
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Men Women Identified in another way 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
Acting as a committee member or Trustee 26 23 * 9 16 22 25 36 36 25
Promotion and marketing 13 10 * 14 14 14 11 8 7 11
Office or administrative work 20 21 * 11 19 20 23 23 23 21
Providing advice, support or advocacy 17 12 * 10 13 12 16 15 16 14
Transporting people or things 13 11 * 5 7 13 16 12 11 12
Providing education, training or coaching 24 19 * 29 25 22 21 16 15 21
Campaigning 8 7 * 14 7 5 9 5 8 8
Fundraising 27 30 * 31 25 35 27 27 24 28
Counselling 4 4 * 1 2 3 5 7 3 4
Visiting, buddying or befriending 7 10 * 11 6 6 9 10 12 9
Care work e.g. providing meals, cleaning, dressing 3 5 * 7 4 3 4 4 2 4
Generally helping out as required 55 54 * 60 55 59 52 55 45 55
Other 1 1 * 2 0 1 0 1 0 1
Don't know 2 2 * 2 4 1 2 1 4 2
Base 1,060 1,480 0 170 300 440 660 720 250 2,540

11.3.3 Time Spent Volunteering

Table 11.9 shows that 22 per cent of adults that provided unpaid help did so ‘several times a week’ and 28 per cent provided unpaid help ‘about once a week’. More men (25 per cent) than women (19 per cent) provided unpaid help ‘several times a week’ and more women (30 per cent) than men (26 per cent) provided unpaid help ‘about once a week.’ Adults volunteering at least once a week increased with age, from 47 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds, up to 63 per cent of adults aged 75 and above.

Table 11.9: Time spent volunteering in the last 12 months by gender and age
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Men Women Identified in another way 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
Several times a week 25 19 * 19 15 19 22 28 25 22
About once a week 26 30 * 28 27 24 26 31 38 28
Less than once a week but at least once a month 25 26 * 26 24 30 25 25 22 26
Less than once a month 24 25 * 27 34 27 27 16 14 25
All 100 100 * 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,060 1,480 0 170 300 440 660 720 250 2,540

Adults who had undertaken voluntary work in the last 12 months were asked the specific number of hours that they provided unpaid help in the last four weeks. Table 11.10 shows that 70 per cent of volunteers in Scotland provided unpaid help for 10 hours or less, with just over one-third (34 per cent) providing help for between one and five hours.

Table 11.10: Total number of hours of unpaid work provided in the last four weeks
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Scotland
Less than an hour 19
Between 1 and 5 hours 34
6 to 10 hours 17
11 to 15 hours 7
16 to 20 hours 7
21 to 35 hours 6
36 hours or more 5
Dont know 5
All 100
Base 2,540

11.3.4 Reasons for Providing Unpaid Help in the Future

Adults who had not undertaken voluntary work in the last 12 months were asked if there was anything that might encourage them to provide unpaid help to groups, clubs or organisations in the future. Table 11.11 shows that 72 per cent of adults said that ‘nothing’ would encourage them to undertake voluntary work in the future. Reasons for undertaking unpaid work in the future were similar for men and women.

Table 11.11: What would encourage adults to undertake voluntary work in the future
Percentages, 2018 data

Reasons for undertaking unpaid work in future Men Women Identified in another way Refused All
Employer support (e.g. flexible working) 2 2 - * 2
Information on available roles and how to get started 4 4 - * 4
Information on and knowing it would not impact on my benefits 1 1 - * 1
If I knew my expenses would be paid 1 1 - * 1
Understanding the benefits for me 1 0 - * 1
If I could do it with people I know 1 1 - * 1
If I knew how my time/skills could help others 7 6 - * 6
Other (please specify) 9 11 - * 10
Nothing 74 71 - * 72
Don’t know 6 6 - * 6
Base 3,250 3,860 - 0 7,110

11.4 Informal Volunteering

11.4.1 Prevalence of Informal Volunteering

Table 11.12 shows that 36 per cent of adults provided unpaid help through informal volunteering in the last 12 months. More women (37 per cent) informally volunteered than men (34 per cent).

Table 11.12: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months, by gender
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults Men Women Identified in another way Refused All
Yes 34 37 * * 36
No 66 63 * * 64
Total 100 100 * * 100
Base 4,320 5,380 0 0 9,700

Figure 11.4 shows the gender difference in informal volunteering by age. Levels of informal volunteering were similar for men and women. Volunteering was lowest among those aged 75 and above and highest for those aged 35 to 44.

Figure 11.4: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months, by age within gender
2018 data, Adults (minimum base: 680)

Figure 11.4: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months, by age within gender

There is variation in informal volunteering according to individuals’ current economic situation (Table 11.13). Those in ‘part-time employment’ (40 per cent), ‘looking after home / family’ (39 per cent), ‘self-employed’ (39 per cent) and in ‘full-time employement’ (38 per cent) were most likely to have informally volunteered. Adults who are ‘permanently sick or have short-term ill-health issues or are disabled’ (19 per cent) were least likely to have informally volunteered.

Table 11.13: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months by current economic situation
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults Self -employed Full-time employment Part-time employment Looking after home / family Permanently retired from work Unemployed and seeking work In Education (including HE/FE) Permanently sick or short term ill health or disabled All
Yes 39 38 40 39 32 31 36 19 36
No 61 62 60 61 68 69 64 81 64
All 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 590 3,140 990 380 3,260 320 390 610 9,700

Table 11.14 shows the differences in informal volunteering by household income. It can be seen that a higher proportion of adults in the highest net household incomes provided unpaid help than in the lowest with 43 per cent providing unpaid help with a net household income of more than £40,000 compared to 34 per cent in the lowest net household income (£0-£6,000).

Table 11.14: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months by net annual income
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 - £15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
Yes 34 27 31 33 35 33 37 43 36
No 66 73 69 67 65 67 63 57 64
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 220 720 1,530 1,480 1,170 890 1,270 2,030 9,300

Figure 11.5 shows the prevalence of informal volunteering by level of deprivation, as defined using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). It can be seen that levels of volunteering generally increased as area deprivation decreased. Thirty-one per cent of adults in the 20 per cent most deprived areas provided unpaid help in 2018 compared to 39 per cent in the 20 per cent least deprived areas.

Figure 11.5: Percentage of adults who informally volunteered in the last 12 months by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
2018 data, Adults (minimum base: 1,770)

Figure 11.5: Percentage of adults who informally volunteered in the last 12 months by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Table 11.15 shows informal volunteering by Urban / Rural classification. A higher percentage of adults in remote rural areas (40 per cent) and accessible small towns (39 per cent) provided unpaid help compared to large urban areas (34 per cent).

Table 11.15: Informal volunteering in the last 12 months by Urban / Rural Classification
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural Scotland
Yes 34 36 39 35 37 40 36
No 66 64 61 65 63 60 64
All 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 2,970 3,250 840 580 1,030 1,030 9,700

Similar to formal volunteering, the findings from the SHS 2018 data evidence the under-representation of disadvantaged groups in informal volunteering. Although coverage of informal volunteering is less visibile in the available literature[128], evidence highlights that informal volunteering is an important form of participation for traditionally excluded or disadvantaged groups and that consideration should be given for ways in which informal volunteering can be recognised and included in policy development. The latter has been reflected in “Volunteering for All – Our National Framework”[129] (see Diagram 11.1).

11.4.2 Types of Unpaid Activities Undertook

Table 11.16 shows the types of unpaid activities that adults undertook when informally volunteering by gender and age. The most common activities were ‘keeping in touch with someone who is at risk of being lonely’ (18 per cent), ‘babysitting or looking after children’ (15 per cent), ‘doing shopping, collecting pension or paying bills’ (12 per cent) and ‘routine household chores’ (11 per cent).

Women (19 per cent) were more likely to help by ‘babysitting or looking after children’ than men (11 per cent). Men (eight per cent) were more likely to help with ‘car or home maintenance or repairs’ than women (two per cent).

Types of unpaid activities varied with age. Those in the 16 to 24 age group were most likely to help with ‘babysitting or looking after children’ (17 per cent) and those 60 years old and over were most likely to help by ‘keeping in touch with someone who is at risk of being lonely’ (21 and 16 per cent for those aged 60 to 74 and 75 and over).

Table 11.16: Informal volunteering activities in the last 12 months by gender and age
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Men Women Identified in another way 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
Keeping in touch with someone who is at risk of being lonely 16 20 * 14 17 19 18 21 16 18
Doing shopping, collecting pension, collecting benefits or paying bills 11 14 * 10 11 13 15 13 7 12
Routine household chores eg cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening 10 12 * 14 12 11 13 10 4 11
Car or home maintenance or repairs 8 2 * 5 7 6 6 3 2 5
Babysitting or looking after children 11 19 * 17 14 21 13 19 6 15
Helping with personal care 2 3 * 4 4 2 4 2 1 3
Providing advice or support with letters or forms etc 5 7 * 3 6 7 9 7 2 6
Providing transport or accompanying someone away from home 8 10 * 6 7 9 11 11 6 9
Helping to improve your local environment 5 4 * 2 5 6 5 5 2 4
Helping someone else to improve a skill 7 5 * 9 7 7 6 5 1 6
Helping someone else to be more active 6 6 * 7 8 6 6 5 2 6
Other 0 0 * 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Base 4,320 5,380 0 680 1,300 1,370 2,390 2,540 1,430 9,700

11.4.3 Time Spent Informally Volunteering

Table 11.17 shows that 30 per cent of adults informally volunteered ‘about once a week’ and 28 per cent did so ‘several times a week’. Women informally volunteered more regularly than men, as a higher proportion of women than men provided unpaid help ‘several times a week’ (31 and 26 per cent respectively). Generally, providing unpaid help regularly increased with age with around a third of those aged 45 to 59 and 60 to 74 (31 and 36 per cent respectively) providing unpaid help ‘several times a week’.

Table 11.17: Frequency of informal volunteering in the last 12 months by gender and age
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Men Women Identified in another way 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
Several times a week 26 31 - 25 23 22 31 36 30 28
About once a week 29 31 - 34 30 27 28 30 36 30
Less than once a week but at least once a month 25 25 - 26 28 29 22 22 21 25
Less than once a month 20 14 - 15 19 22 18 12 12 17
All 100 100 - 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,410 1,970 - 240 450 550 880 920 340 3,380

Adults who had undertaken informal volunteering in the last 12 months were asked the specific number of hours they had provided unpaid help in the last four weeks. Table 11.18 shows that 65 per cent of adults provided unpaid help for 10 hours or less, with 38 per cent providing help for between one and five hours.

Table 11.18: Total number of informal volunteering participation hours in the last four weeks
Percentages, 2018 data

Adults who did voluntary work in the last 12 months Scotland
Less than an hour 11
Between 1 and 5 hours 38
6 to 10 hours 16
11 to 15 hours 5
16 to 20 hours 5
21 to 35 hours 5
36 hours or more 6
Dont know 13
All 100
Base 3,380

Contact

Email: shs@gov.scot