Volunteering levels still flat despite Britain’s ‘golden summer’

Olympics fail to inspire 7 in 10 adults to volunteer, but half of young people now keen

"The time to act was right away to build on the momentum of the games and it looks like the government and the Olympic legacy organisations have either tried and failed, or missed the opportunity completely." Joe Saxton
  • In the first post-Olympic period, the number of people who’d volunteered in the last three months actually fell slightly from 22% to 21% (slide 2)
  • It hasn’t gone above 22% in the last 10 years (slide 2)
  • There was, however, a slight increase in the frequency of volunteering, with more than half of those who had volunteered doing so once or twice a week (slide 3)
  • 70% of adults said the Olympics hadn’t inspired them either to start or do more volunteering. Just 2% had started as a result of the Olympics (slide 6)
  • 17% said they were inspired to volunteer by the Games and would like to find out more, whereas 10% already volunteered but now give more time (slide 6)
  • Nearly half (44%) of 11-16 year olds said the Olympics had inspired them and they wanted to find out more. Only a third (36%) said they didn’t want to start or increase volunteering (slide 6)
  • That said, only 6% have started to volunteer because of the Games, with 14% of existing volunteers now giving more time (slide 6)

Britain’s ‘golden summer’ could have been a false dawn in terms of volunteering, new research shows. Despite a summer of Olympic glory and the praise heaped upon Games helpers, few people have been inspired to give their time to good causes and there has been no overall increase in volunteering.

The survey of 2031 adults, carried out by research consultancy nfpSynergy, shows seven in 10 adults say the Olympics haven’t inspired them to volunteer and only 2% have started as a direct result of the Games. 17% said they were inspired and would like to find out more, but only 10% have increased the hours they do.

The research also shows that overall volunteering levels have barely changed in a decade. The figures, taken from nfpSynergy’s nationally representative surveys of 1000 adults, show that the number of people giving their time hasn’t risen above 22% since research began in 2003.

The study did show more promising results for young people, with nearly half (44%) of the 496 polled saying the Olympics inspired them to volunteer and they wanted to find out more. Despite this, only 6% had actually started volunteering because of the Games and only 14% had increased their hours. Over a third (36%) said they didn’t volunteer and didn’t want to start.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said:

“For any host country, the Olympics is a once in a lifetime event. To inspire the next generation of volunteers, organisations must capture people’s enthusiasm and carry it on to new opportunities. The Olympic summer was the perfect springboard.

I find it particularly sad and disappointing that nearly half of young people would like to find out more about volunteering, but more than six months after the games they still don’t seem to be presented with opportunities. The time to act was right away to build on the momentum of the games and it looks like the government and the Olympic legacy organisations have either tried and failed, or missed the opportunity completely.”

Please see the attached slides for more details.

For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton, please contact him directly on 07976 329 212 orjoe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net

SOURCE:  nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, which regularly surveys a nationally representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain, January wave (slides 2-5). Also Youth Engagement Monitor from February, a survey of 496 11-16 year olds (slide 6) and Charity Awareness Monitor from March, a survey of 2031 adults (slide 6).

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MEDIA COMMENT:

To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him directly on 07976 329212 orjoe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net. If you cannot contact Joe, please contact Rob White (07512 709140; E:rob.white@nfpsynergy.net) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is a research consultancy dedicated to the not-for-profit sector. They aim to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive. They provide a unique insight into the social and charity-related views of everyone from public and parliament to media and business, not to mention not-for-profit organisations themselves. nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool and shares this with the non-profit sector, through both paid work and regular free reports and seminars.

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