Businesses need to do more to get people volunteering – research

26 January 2015

Fewer than one in 10 workers are given time off to volunteer says new research released today.

Only 7% of employees say they are given paid time off to volunteer by their employers and nearly a quarter (22%) don’t know if this opportunity is available to them, according to research commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation. Nearly three quarters (72%) of employees say they do not get this benefit.

CAF, which helps people and businesses support the causes they care about, and provides financial services designed for the charitable sector, is asking companies to do more to encourage employees to volunteer their time.

Today's research found that nearly six out of 10 people believe offering staff more paid volunteering leave would encourage them to give up more of their time for good causes. More than two thirds of people believe that having flexibility in terms of time commitment and using skills and knowledge for volunteering were also important factors in encouraging people to give more of their time.

The survey by pollsters ComRes, also showed that nearly a fifth (19%) of people have never volunteered before but would like to do so in the future. Previous research by CAF has also shown the untapped potential among younger people in the workplace when it comes to giving, 52% of 18-24s and 56% of 25-34s saying they would give more time or money to charity at work if their employer gave them more opportunities to do so. This is compared to the 41% who agreed to this statement over all age groups.

And figures from members of the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) which includes some of the UK's biggest employers, show there is a worrying lack of knowledge among employees about the volunteering opportunities that are available. Some 63% of LBG members offer paid volunteering leave to staff and Volunteering England state that 70% of FTSE 100 companies and just under a quarter of SMEs – small and medium businesses – do in fact offer some kind of volunteering scheme to staff.

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation said: “It’s great that people in the UK have a strong desire to give up their time to help others and support the vital work of the voluntary sector, and many businesses are leading the way when it comes to rallying their staff around a cause.
 “We saw from the incredible teamwork involved in the Olympics how generous the public can be with their time, but in spite of this amazing example, we have yet to see a country wide culture of volunteering spread across the UK.

“Our research shows a worrying lack of support being offered by some employers, and in many cases a lack of knowledge that this support even exists.

“We would like companies of all sizes to get their staff volunteering, unlocking potentially millions of hours of valuable time to support the vital work of British charities.”

The research was commissioned by CAF and ComRes interviewed 2,029 GB adults, of which 1,059 were employees, online between the 22nd and the 23rd of October 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.

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