More than one in two people in Britain volunteered in 2011, according to a new study in volunteering habits by YouGov.
Some 2,025 people were surveyed in the study commissioned by Zurich. It found that 55 per cent of those surveyed took part in at least one or more volunteering activity in 2011, with 47 per cent taking part in two or more.
The age groups most likely to volunteer were over-55s (59 per cent) and people aged 18-24 (58 per cent). The most popular activities undertaken in the last year were neighbourly deeds (50 per cent), other unpaid activities to support local people (27 per cent), fundraising for a local cause (26 per cent) and giving time to help a local cause (22 per cent).
The study was reviewed by Dr Tom Farsides, a leading psychologist and lecturer in social psychology at the University of Sussex.
He said: “Volunteers can learn new skills, have fun, meet people, and improve their job prospects. Beyond that, this research suggests that many people like helping others e.g., their neighbours, their communities, or particular groups or causes.”
Farsides split volunteers into four categories:
- You-gooders - The most common type of volunteer, most of who are young people. Those who volunteer for individual benefit such as personal enjoyment, career opportunities or meeting new people.
- Heart-isans - People who prefer to help a cause or group close to their heart and raise money for a local cause.
- Loc-altruists - Volunteers motivated to help their local community, helping to keep their surroundings clean and tidy.
- Clan-itarians - People who volunteer in activities that directly benefit their friends and family, carrying out neighbourly deeds.