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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018/19, 22% of people aged 16 and over in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month, the same percentage as the previous year (2017/18)
  • In 2018/19 people from Asian ethnic groups were less likely to have taken part in formal volunteering at least once a month than people from White or Black ethnic groups
Things you need to know

The data comes from The Community Life Survey (previously the Citizenship Survey). It surveys a random sample of the population to make generalisations about the whole population.

The commentary for this data only includes reliable findings. Findings are reliable ('statistically significant’) when we can be confident they reflect the whole population. This means we would get similar findings 19 times out of 20 if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population.

As with all surveys, the estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. Ethnic minority groups tend to have a smaller number of survey respondents. As a result, their estimates are less reliable than those for White people.

Results by ethnic group are available in the reference tables of the latest Community Life Survey publication.

What the data measures

The data measures the percentage of people aged 16 and over who had volunteered formally at least once a month over the last 12 months. The information is broken down by ethnicity.

Formal volunteering means providing unpaid help through groups, clubs or other organisations.

This data doesn't include informal volunteering like doing unpaid work for friends or family.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Respondents were asked to select their ethnic group from a choice of 18 categories.

However, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions based on the 18 groups.

Therefore, data is shown for these 5 broad groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 16 years and over who formally volunteered at least once a month, by ethnicity
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Ethnicity 2016-17 % 2016-17 Number of respondents 2017-18 % 2017-18 Number of respondents 2018-19 % 2018-19 Number of respondents
All 22 10,256 22 10,217 22 10,627
Asian 17 1,111 18 926 16 909
Black 25 360 24 353 25 348
Mixed 16 467 19 510 19 499
White 23 8,022 23 8,108 22 8,560
Other 23 163 18 124 22 125

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Volunteering By ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018/19, 22% of people aged 16 and over in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month, the same percentage as last year (2017/18)
  • Asian people (16%) were least likely to have formally volunteered at least once a month compared with people in the White (22%) and Black (25%) ethnic groups
  • there were no significant differences with figures from the previous year (2017/18) for any ethnic group

3. Methodology

The Community Life Survey consists of an online or paper questionnaire. In 2018/19, it was completed by 10,627 individuals.

It deliberately surveyed more households from ethnic minority groups, (excluding White ethnic minorities). This is because the smaller populations of these groups would otherwise give less reliable results.

The 2016/17 to 2018/19 survey samples are large enough for the results to be broken down by 5 broad ethnic groups.

In 2014/15 and 2015/16, sample sizes ranged from around 2,000 to 3,000 respondents. This was too small to draw reliable conclusions about differences between the White and Other ethnic groups. For these reasons, results for 2016/17 onwards are not compared with those from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

For earlier years, results are available for reference purposes from the Community Life Survey.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population. In this case they also took account of the over-sampling in any national estimates.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Results are not published when based on fewer than 30 respondents. All the results presented here are based on sample sizes of more than 100 respondents.


Estimates in the charts and tables are given to the nearest percentage.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics


Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The Community Life Survey tracks developments in areas that are important to encouraging social action and empowering communities.

These include:

  • volunteering and charitable giving
  • neighbourhood (views about the local area, community cohesion and belonging)
  • civic engagement and social action
  • well-being

5. Download the data