State of the Sector Explores Volunteering in the VCSE Sector

NICVA’s latest State of the Sector research sheds light on the size, scope and finances of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector in a brand new online format. This article focuses on the Volunteering section of the research. 

NICVA has published the latest State of the Sector research in a brand new online resource which you can explore here. This new online format enables users to easily navigate across the different research sections and download the data behind the research. It will also enable the Research Team at NICVA to update State of the Sector on a rolling basis, which means the information available to users will be more up-to-date than in previous formats.

The data presented in the Volunteering section of State of the Sector is derived from a number of sources including the 2015 State of the Sector survey. Additional data are drawn from research reports published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and the Department for Communities which gathered information on volunteering levels throughout Northern Ireland. Data is also drawn from a research report published by the VSB Foundation and Volunteer Now on voluntary management committees in Northern Ireland.

The State of the Sector research estimates that there are 241,264 volunteers affiliated to organisations in the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in Northern Ireland. This figure includes those volunteers involved in the governance of their organisation (e.g. volunteers who sit on management committees) and those volunteers involved in the general operations of organisations. The average (mean) number of volunteers involved in organisations was 42. Responding organisations were more likely to involve female volunteers than males, with an average of 25 female volunteers involved in organisations compared to 17 males.

The DfC research reported that the top five types of volunteering activities included fundraising, helping a church or religious organisation, organising or helping to run a community event, working with young people and volunteering as a group leader, committee member or trustee. This research also found that over the last four weeks 22.2% spent between 8-16 hours volunteering, 8.1% spent between 17-24 hours and 7% spent more than 25 hours volunteering.

The DfC research found that the majority of volunteers (80%) felt that their efforts were recognised/ appreciated by the main organisation for which they volunteered. Two-thirds (66%) stated that they were able to ‘cope with the things they were asked to do’. Close to half (49%) of respondents who volunteered stated that they were ‘given the opportunity to do the sort of things I’d like’. A small proportion of volunteers stated that they were considering stopping volunteering (3%). This research also reported that the most common application procedure that volunteers had to complete was a police check/ Access NI check (41%). The three main barriers to volunteering included work commitments (35%), insufficient time (34%) and home commitments (20%).   

State of the Sector also explores other areas of the VCSE sector including income, workforce, profile, future issues and charitable giving. You can explore these areas here

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