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Volunteering in Buckinghamshire – 2023 research

Latest research shows volunteering in the UK is at its lowest levels in a decade (ref DCMS Community Life Survey 2021/22: volunteering and charitable giving).

To understand the reasons why, and what steps volunteer-involving organisations could take to boost volunteering levels in Buckinghamshire, Community Impact Bucks and Buckinghamshire Health and Social Care Academy commissioned independent research that took place December 2022 – February 2023.

Volunteering in Buckinghamshire, carried out by Laura Elson Consulting Ltd, explored volunteering needs and barriers for organisations, current and potential volunteers; tested and developed ideas about how to evolve the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service; and identified skills and training requirements for volunteers, and assessed whether a volunteer passport could support skills development.

Key findings regarding current volunteers in the county include:

  • 3 out of 4 (75%) of respondents who currently volunteer use existing skills for good causes
  • 86% said they volunteered as they enjoyed it, with other reasons for volunteering identified including for socialising (55%), mental health (54%) and being passionate about the cause (51%).
  • 56% of current volunteers volunteer in multiple places, with 22% saying they would volunteer more.

Of the volunteering organisations which took part in the research, it was found that many are already offering lots of flexible volunteering:

  • 60% offer weekend volunteering roles.
  • 51% had evening volunteering opportunities.
  • 40% also offered remote roles which could be done from home.

Research amongst those who do not currently volunteer found:

  • Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents who do not volunteer said not having to sign up to a regular commitment would enable them to volunteer.
  • 53% of those not volunteering would prefer to support one-off events.
  • 1 in 2 (50%) said volunteering from or near home would help.
  • Several barriers to volunteering were identified: nearly half (44%) said they didn’t have time, 42% said they didn’t know how to find opportunities, and a lack of flexibility in roles.
  • The majority of volunteers (64%) said they had up to 5 hours per month they could give to volunteering, which is enough for many volunteer roles.

Other barriers to volunteering stood out:

  • Onerous onboarding processes and training.
  • Organisations ignoring applications – or being too persistent.
  • Lack of relevant opportunities.

These barriers, plus other findings, highlighted how charities and other volunteer-involving organisations several measures they could take to make it easier to volunteer:

  • Create more flexible opportunities for example adhoc roles, volunteering from or near home, supporting one-off events.
  • Provide opportunities to visit the organisation for example holding volunteer taster sessions.
  • Promote opportunities more widely including more targeted promotion and community outreach to specific groups, highlighting that volunteering can be: flexible, cater for a wide range of interests, enjoyable and sociable, and be done from – or close to – home.
  • Manage expectations around onboarding of volunteers.

Further information: