Volunteering Data in London

Our Researcher & Data Analyst Penny has brought together the existing data about volunteering in London.

Here you can find an overview of the key data sources, as well as useful resources.

If you would like to add a resource to this web page, please email

Data resources

Community Life Survey: Volunteering and charitable giving (2021/22)

From: Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and Office for Civil Society

About: The Community Life Survey is a key evidence source for understanding more about community engagement, volunteering and social cohesion, sampling adults (aged 16+) throughout England.

Key Findings

Of those living in London:

  • 30% of respondents took part in formal volunteering
  • 49% of respondents took part in informal volunteering
  • While rates of formal and informal volunteering in London were higher than any other region in England, overall national rates of both formal and informal volunteering either at least once a month or at least once in the last 12 months were the lowest since data collection started for the Community Life Survey in 2012.

The most common reasons for taking part in formal volunteering:

  • ‘I wanted to improve things/help people’ – 48%
  • ‘The cause was really important to me’ – 33%

The most common reasons for not volunteering at all or not volunteering more frequently:

  • ‘I have work commitments’ – 49%
  • ‘I do other things in my spare time’ – 31%

Read the report

Civic Strength Index (2021)

From: The Young Foundation, funded by the GLA

About: Commissioned by the GLA and developed by the Young Foundation, the Civic Strength Index is a report and tool that aims to begin to measure what makes a strong community, to ensure it is understood and valued. The Civic Strength Index and its accompanying report are a key pillar of the Building Strong Communities mission of the London Recovery Programme.

Key findings (2021)

  • The Civic Strength Index highlights the significance of volunteering as a key component of civic strength, which is defined as the state in which communities are supported by robust public and social infrastructure to build strong relationships and feel empowered to meaningfully engage in the issues that matter to them.
  • For example, in Camden Town with Primrose Hill, high levels of formal volunteering, high density in charities, as well as grassroots activity were observed. This is a stark difference to the northern fringes of London, where relationships, social capital, and overall civic strength appear to be significantly weaker.
  • Another example includes the transformation of Liberty Hall in Clapton Common. Volunteers assisted in the transformation of this building from a disused toilet block to a flexible shared space, community kitchen, and meeting place. This space can now be used to address social isolation and health inequalities in the neighbourhood.
  • These examples emphasise the importance of volunteering and the positive impact it has on civic strength and community well-being.

Read the report

Research Report on Volunteer Passports (2021)

From: Research Works Limited for The Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport

About: The concept of volunteer passports has long been a topic of debate in the volunteering community. This study was commissioned to help build an evidence base for understanding the present landscape of volunteer passports and passporting, and areas of demand and opportunities for volunteer passports and passporting to support volunteering, as well as the perceived challenges involved.

Key Findings

  • The literature review found a range of volunteer passport initiatives in the UK and internationally, which shared two broad aims: to improve volunteer portability, and to validate and value volunteers’ experience, skills and contribution
  • There was also consistency in the key elements of each volunteer passport initiative such as shared volunteer vetting and training standards, volunteer matching, and a volunteer profile or portfolio

The qualitative research with volunteers, volunteer involving organisations and stakeholders highlighted what they perceived as key areas of demand for volunteer passports and passporting to support volunteering. For example:

  • Portable ID and DBS checks were welcomed as a core element of a potential volunteer passport to reduce duplication in volunteer recruitment and onboarding
  • Having a shared pool of volunteers was perceived as important for particular types of volunteering: emergency, event-based, micro, place-based, task-based volunteering
  • Standardisation of volunteer training and skills was of interest to some in two areas: standardisation of entry-level volunteer skills and sector-specific standards for specialist skills
  • Validation of volunteers’ experience and skills was perceived as beneficial for particular groups of volunteers, where volunteering was also a potential route to employment

Read the report

Time Well Spent (2023)

From: NCVO

About: Time Well Spent is NCVO’s biggest research programme on people’s experiences of volunteering. With a better understanding, they aim to provide rich and practical insights that will inform practice and policy, address knowledge gaps, and generate new evidence.

Key Findings

Across England, Wales, and Scotland:

  • 92% of volunteers they are very or fairly satisfied with their volunteering, although this has decreased since 2019.
  • Younger, public-sector volunteers, and disabled volunteers continue to be less satisfied.
  • 67% of volunteers say that those volunteering alongside them are from a wide range of backgrounds, however, this has decreased since 2019.
  • Almost a third (31%) of volunteers carried out their volunteering activities either over the phone or online, making it the third most common place to volunteer.
  • This is important for those with accessibility issues, such as people with disabilities, as 36% of disabled people said they have volunteered remotely compared to 29% of non-disabled people.
  • 31% carried out their volunteering activities remotely.
  • 36% of disabled people volunteered remotely compared to 29% of non-disabled people.
  • Also, for those who do not currently volunteer, flexibility with where and when people volunteer was cited as the factors most likely to encourage them to start volunteering.

Read the report

Community Research Index (2023/24)

From: The National Lottery Community Fund

About: The Community Research Index is an annual survey of over 8,000 adults from across the UK. It reveals people’s thoughts about their community – including what makes them proud, and what they are concerned about – and how they would like the future to look.

Key Findings

  • Six in 10 people (61%) said that they felt part of their local community, both across the UK and in each individual country
  • The majority (64%) of people surveyed said they were willing to work with others to improve their local area, with half (50%) planning to volunteer in 2024
  • People felt positive about their communities, rating their local areas favourably in categories including access to green space (80%), overall quality of life (70%), and education opportunities (68%)
  • Communities were motivated to tackle the effects of climate change, with half (50%) saying that they felt personally motivated to engage in climate action, and a similar proportion said they were optimistic that the worst long-term impacts could still be prevented (48%)
  • The majority of people said that they wanted to see increased access to affordable housing (58%) and reduced poverty and deprivation (57%)
  • When asked what was most important for community wellbeing, people’s top priorities were support with the rising cost of living (30%), looking out for one another (25%), reducing loneliness (23%), and preventing youth violence (20%)

Read the report

The Road Ahead (2024)

From: NCVO

About: The Road Ahead 2024 is NCVO’s annual report on the changing landscape for NCVO members and voluntary sector organisations. The report aims to identify, explore and help explain the external forces, issues and trends that are shaping our sector and help organisations understand how they may impact the work of voluntary organisations in the coming year.

Key Findings

  • In terms of volunteering, one of the main findings from The Road Ahead uncovers challenges with the cost-of-living crisis, and how this can pose as a barrier to volunteering. Many volunteers may need to prioritise paid work rather than volunteer. This could be a contributing factor to the recent decline in the numbers and overall satisfaction of volunteers.
  • Also, The Road Ahead report suggests that to support more people in getting involved in their communities, charities need to adapt. One way they can do this is by improving the flexibility and accessibility of volunteering opportunities. How people give their time has changed and increasingly people are looking for flexible, short-term and accessible opportunities. This could include exploring remote or digital routes to volunteering.

Read the report

VCSE Barometer Survey (February 2024)

From: Pro Bono Economics and NTU National VCSE Data and Insights Observatory

About: The Voluntary, Community or Social Enterprise organisation (VCSE) Barometer Survey is a quick ‘temperature check’ of what’s happening in the VCSE sector right now. It aims to build insights into real-time trends, changes and challenges in the UK voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Findings are shared every quarter with national policy and decision-makers, local infrastructure organisations and the VCSE sector.

Key Findings

The latest findings from the VCSE Barometer Survey are presented in ‘Tethered fortunes: The threat to charities from trouble in local government’ from February 2024, which reveals the depth of the entanglement between charities and councils and emphasises the risk that creates as councils struggle to stabilise their budgets.

  • 28% of charities that work with local councils predict their funding from them will fall over the next 12 months
  • Four in ten charities that work with local councils say that doing so is critical to their operations
  • Finance crisis in local government is a moderate or high risk to over half of charities that work with local councils
  • Local government funding of charities fell 23% between 2009-10 and 2020-21
  • Money from councils currently responsible for 13p in every £1 of charity income

Read the report

Useful resources

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Have you heard of London’s Lifelines?

We shout about all the different types of volunteering activities in London and the important part they play in building stronger communities.

Visit the London’s Lifelines website