Volunteering adds £4.6bn to UK economy each year, researchers estimate

15 Mar 2024 News

By Elroi/Adobe

Volunteering in professional and managerial positions in the UK produces £4.6bn-worth of productivity gains each year, £4,551 per volunteer, according to a new report.

The report estimates that a further £67.5m could be provided if the around 185,000 unemployed adults from professional and managerial backgrounds in the UK were to volunteer at the same rate as those employed.

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) and Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) surveyed 1,000 unemployed adults and found that 68% would be interested in supported volunteering opportunities to prepare them for finding work.       

Jansev Jemal, director of research and policy at PBE, said: “Despite the substantial scale of its contribution to both society and the economy, the social sector has not always had the respect it deserves. 

“It is really important that we keep building a growing body of evidence to demonstrate its true value and use it to strengthen the relationship between government and the sector.

“We need to see greater emphasis on the individual and economic benefits of volunteering from all sides.” 

Barriers to volunteering 

The research was conducted by Censuswide online with a sample of 1,000 respondents aged 18 to 66 who had not been in work or education for at least six months, not including retirees, full-time parents or homemakers.

Some 59% of respondents said they would like to find employment, but barriers such as ill-health (39%) loss of confidence (33%) and a lack of experience (21%) were holding them back. 

Among the unemployed people who said they were currently or had volunteered, 38% had gained new skills and 32% had grown in confidence.         

Some 68% (rising to 74% of those aged 18-24) said they would be interested in supporting volunteering opportunities that help boost their skills, confidence and wellbeing to prepare them to find work.

Meanwhile, 44% of respondents had not considered volunteering before being asked, which the report says shows more could be done to promote volunteering among job seekers.


PBE and RVS proposed expanding and developing more flexible volunteering opportunities to enable wider participation.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of RVS, said the report has “shown a clear appetite among those currently out of work to volunteer”. 

“That’s why we’re now calling for better access to volunteering opportunities for job seekers, alongside more formal recognition for volunteers’ achievements,” she said. 

Matt Whittaker, chief executive of PBE, said: “Volunteers are a vital resource for charities, but can also benefit personally and professionally through skills development and utilisation, making new connections, increased confidence and wellbeing.

“These rewards for individuals translate into wider benefits for the economy. 

“By encouraging volunteering, productivity gains can be achieved and it makes for a compelling case for businesses to expand employee volunteering opportunities across their entire workforce, enabling everyone at work to benefit.” 

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