Volunteering – who cares!

Look around you. Did you know that half the people you can see gave their time for others in some way over the last year?

Why is volunteering such a big deal?

People want to give their time. Mostly, this is because they want to improve things or help people and as we can see, a huge number of people do this. Whether this is through helping out with a local sports club or raising awareness of a local issue, getting involved is a big part of our lives in the UK. While we all give a little of our time now and then, a huge number of people give their time regularly to a group, club or organisation – one in five people to be exact.

Those numbers seem pretty big, but how does that compare to how people give in different ways? Well, if we were to talk about money, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) found that people give about £10bn a year to good causes – a figure that’s been quite stable for the last few years.

How does giving time compare to giving money? A few years back, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) valued the ‘output’ of regular formal volunteers at £23.9bn. Just before that, Volunteering England put the output figure for all (formal and informal) volunteering at £45.1bn.

I’ll let that sink in for a second.

People don’t give up their time to be compared to paid staff

Jesse J was right – it’s not about the money – so let’s forget about the price tag for a moment.

People give time because they want to improve things. Or causes are important to them. Or they see a need in their community. People don’t give their time to be compared to staff. In fact, many people feel like volunteering is becoming too much like paid work. And actually, how would you price the unique contribution that volunteers bring: their flexibility, their credibility with service users and the positive image they give to our organisations.

We have a common phrase in the English language for when someone isn’t in a giving mood – for love nor money. Volunteers don’t give their time for money, so perhaps we should recognise that volunteering falls into the other camp that simply can’t be given a market value.

Volunteers week logo

So how do we value the priceless?

This is why Volunteers’ Week is such a huge deal. Volunteers don’t give time for money, they give time for the love of what they do. So, let’s be grateful. Let’s celebrate the great stuff they do. Let’s say thanks. Let’s remind them of why their gift of time is so valuable, even if it is sometimes difficult to put a value on it.

At NCVO, we’ve been supporting voluntary action for a hundred years. We’re particularly thrilled at NCVO to work with our partners in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to lead the celebration this year, the UK’s 35th Volunteers’ Week. We’re especially delighted to have heard from our patron, Her Majesty The Queen with the message: In this, your centenary year, it is important to recognise the positive impact volunteers make to their communities, both in this country and across the wider commonwealth.

Letter from the Queen to NCVO








Couldn’t have said it better myself.



Volunteers’ Week is a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.


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Avatar photo Shaun is volunteering development manager at NCVO, overseeing strategy for volunteer management and good practice. Previously, he was head of volunteering at Samaritans and is currently a volunteer trustee of Greater London Volunteering.

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