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In 2022 to 2023, the National Survey asked people whether they gave their time for free (that is, ‘volunteered’) for any clubs or organisations.
30% of people volunteered in 2022 to 2023, up from 26% in 2019 to 2020.
The following factors are independently linked with being more likely to volunteer:
- being male
- having higher-level educational qualifications
- feeling that life is highly worthwhile
- being married
- participating in sports 3 or more times a week
- using the internet
- having a religious faith
- living in a rural area
- living in a less-deprived area
Controlling for other factors (explained in our Regression technical report), the following characteristics were significantly associated with being a volunteer.
A higher proportion of males volunteered compared with females, with 32% of males volunteering and 27% of females.
People with higher-level educational qualifications were more likely to volunteer. 37% of those with the highest level of education qualifications volunteered, compared with 18% of those with no qualifications.
Figure 1: People volunteering, by their highest qualification
Description of Figure 1: Vertical bar chart compares five levels of qualifications volunteers may have in 2022 to 2023. Higher education (level 4+) was the most common qualification for volunteers, with 37% of people. This is significantly higher than all other levels of qualifications.
Source: National Survey for Wales, 2022 to 2023
Feeling that life is worthwhile
The proportion of people who volunteered increased with the feeling that life is worthwhile. People were asked to rate their agreement out of 10 that ‘the things you do in your life are worthwhile’. 35% of people who felt that life was very highly worthwhile (giving a score of 9 or 10) volunteered, compared with 14% of people who had a low feeling that life was worthwhile (giving a score of 0 to 4). There may be a two-way relationship between these factors. Volunteering may increase a person’s sense that things in their life are worthwhile, or a person who views things as worthwhile may also be more inclined to contribute time to volunteering.
The proportion of people who volunteered was higher for those who were married than those who were single. 34% of those married also volunteered compared with 25% of those who were single.
35% of people who participated in sporting activities at least 3 times per week were volunteers in 2022 to 2023, the same proportion as in 2019 to 2020. This was compared with 26% of people volunteering who did not participate in this amount of sporting activities. 12% of those who participated in sporting activities at least 3 times a week also volunteered at a sports club. This is similar to 2019 to 2020.
The proportion of people who volunteered was higher for those who used the internet: 31% of internet users volunteered compared with 17% of people who do not use the internet.
Figure 2: People volunteering, by participation in sport, internet use and feeling that things in life are worthwhile
Description of Figure 2: Vertical bar chart compares the proportion of people participating in sport 3 or more times per week, those who report a very high feeling that things done in life are worthwhile and those who use the internet asked in the 2022 to 2023 survey with the results from 2019 to 2020. 35% of people who volunteered in 2022 to 2023 had a very high feeling that things done in life were worthwhile, compared with 30% in 2019 to 2020. The proportion of those who use the internet and volunteered was 31% in 2022 to 2023 compared with 27% in 2019 to 2020.
Source: National Survey for Wales, 2019 to 2020 and 2022 to 2023
People with a religious faith were more likely to volunteer than those without. 35% of people with a religion were volunteers, compared to 25% of those without a religious faith. These proportions were 32% compared with 21%, respectively, in 2019 to 2020. 11% of people with a religious faith also volunteered with a religious group.
The proportion of people who volunteered was higher in those lived in less-deprived areas. 33% of those in the least deprived areas volunteered, compared with 25% in the most deprived areas.
Those living in a rural area were found more likely to volunteer than people living in an urban area: 35% of people in rural areas volunteered, compared with 27% in urban areas.
There was no significant difference in volunteering by age group, different sexual orientations, or different ethnic groups.
People volunteered at many different organisations (Figure 3). A similar distribution of men and women volunteered at these organisations in 2022 to 2023 as in 2019 to 2020. As well as sex being a significant factor in volunteering rates, there were some differences by sex in the type of organisation where people choose to volunteer. Whilst some were not significantly different, most notably, there was a higher proportion of men than women volunteering at sports clubs.
Figure 3: Proportion volunteering by sex and organisation type
Description of Figure 3: Horizontal bar chart compares ten different types of organisation that people volunteered with in the 2022 to 2023 survey, split by sex. The most common organisation for males to volunteer at was sports club, with a proportion of 11%. This was significantly lower for females, with a proportion of 4%. The most common type of organisation for females to volunteer at was charitable organisations, with a proportion of 10%.
Source: National Survey for Wales, 2022 to 2023
It was found that people most commonly volunteered for 10 or less hours per week (69% of volunteers). The proportion of people volunteering for 11 to 20 hours was much lower (18%). The proportion of people volunteering for 21 to 30 hours, 31 to 40 hours or more than 40 hours was much lower again. There was very little difference in the number of hours spent volunteering for males and females.
Figure 4: Proportion of volunteers by number of hours volunteered in a week
Description of Figure 4: Horizontal bar chart showing different volunteering time periods in hours per week. 69% of people who volunteered did so for 10 or less hours per week. 4% of people volunteered for more than 40 hours per week. The proportion of people who volunteered decreased as the number of hours per week increased.
Source: National Survey for Wales, 2022 to 23
The Welsh Government’s Third Sector Scheme sets out how the Welsh Government will promote the interests of voluntary organisations and defines four cross-cutting themes which underpin activity in the sector, these are: sustainable development, Welsh language, equality and diversity, and tackling poverty. Emerging from the scheme, the Welsh Government’s Volunteering Policy: Supporting Communities, Changing Lives set out three key purposes: improve access to volunteering for people of all ages and from all parts of society; encourage the more effective involvement of volunteers, including through appropriate training; raise the status and improve the image of volunteering. Volunteering is recognised as an important aspect of strong communities by the Welsh Government and the Third Sector Partnership Council, and as something to be promoted and supported.
To reflect the changing nature of volunteering since the development of the existing volunteering policy the Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip (on 23 May 2023) made an oral statement outlining the development of a New Approach to Volunteering in Wales to better understand and support the future of volunteering in Wales. The Approach will be one that is fit for our future generations of volunteers, involving the voluntary, public and private sectors - helping to create an environment in which volunteering is sustainable, strong and flourishing. Development of this New Approach is underway.
The National Survey for Wales is a continuous, large-scale, random sample survey covering people across Wales. Addresses are randomly selected, and invitations sent by post, requesting that a phone number be provided for the address. The phone number can be provided via an online portal, a telephone enquiry line, or direct to the mobile number of the interviewer for that case. If no phone number is provided, an interviewer may call at the address and ask for a phone number. Once a phone number is obtained, the interviewer uses a random selection method to choose one adult at the address to take part in the survey. The first section of the survey takes place by telephone interview; the second section takes place online (unless the respondent is unwilling or unable to complete it online, in which case these questions are also asked by telephone).
National Statistics status
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality, and public value.
All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.
It is Welsh Government’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained and reinstated when standards are restored.
The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in June 2020 following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics Regulation (letter of confirmation). These statistics last underwent a full assessment (full report) against the Code of Practice in 2013.
Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, by for example:
- providing more detailed breakdowns in the results viewer
- updated the survey topics regularly to ensure we continue to meet changing policy need
- continued to carry out regression analysis as a standard part of our outputs, to help users understand the contribution of particular factors to outcomes of interest
Well-being of Future Generations Act (WFG)
The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators (“national indicators”) that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before the Senedd Cymru. The 50 national indicators were laid in March 2016. The National Survey collects information for 15 of the 50 indicators.
Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.