Volunteer Now - Facts & Figures on Volunteering

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Facts & Figures on Volunteering

Fact and Figures on Volunteering

The last Northern Ireland wide survey on the extent and scale of volunteering was conducted in 2007 and resulted in a report titled It’s All About Time’.  This report continues to provide the most up to date information on volunteering activity at the population level.

Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community, the environment, or individuals outside one’s immediate family. It is undertaken freely and without concern for financial gain.

Formal Volunteering:
'Unpaid voluntary work carried out with, or under the auspices of, an organisation.'

  • Approximately 282,000 formal volunteers
  • Each give an average 13.4 hours per month
  • Contribute 504 million to the economy (based on the N. Ireland average hourly wage)
  • 61% are women
  • 16 - 24 and 35 - 49 are the age groups most likely to volunteer
  • 65+ age group are least likely to volunteer
  • Around one third work with a voluntary or community association
  • The most common type of volunteering activity was raising or handling money (32%)


Informal Volunteering:
'Unpaid or voluntary work carried out outside organisations, often at neighbourhood level, but outside the immediate family.'

  • Approximately 470,000 informal volunteers
  • Each give an average 9 hours per month
  • Contribute 433 million to the economy
  • The most common reason given by individuals who carry out informal volunteering was that they wanted to get involved
  • Approximately 146,000 are both formal and informal volunteers


  • 17.5% would be willing to help out if asked
  • More likely to be male, over 65, not married and have no children
  • 38% stated their work commitments prevented them from volunteering
  • 28% of respondents had never thought about volunteering


  • 50% of formal volunteers got involved because they wanted to help people or improve things
  • 73% of formal volunteers said personal enjoyment was a very important benefit of volunteering
  • 74% of formal volunteers stated getting satisfaction from seeing the results of their voluntary activity to be the main benefit of being a volunteer
  • Most respondents felt that advertisements or articles in local newspapers would be the most effective way of promoting volunteering opportunities


Although 'It's All About Time' provides the most up to date picture of volunteering across the country other research has been conducted with specific groups or specific areas of volunteering i.e. older people, young people, sports. Key statistics from a number of these more recent research reports has been complied into a report titled 'Volunteering in NI- What do we know?'. It provide a summary of all available research in Northern Ireland, which helps build a more up to date picture of patterns and trends in volunteering activity.

For more detailed information on volunteering click here to go to our publication page.