1. Main facts and figures

  • overall, in 2017/18, 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 (2016/17)
  • the percentages of people saying they took part in formal volunteering were broadly similar across ethnic groups, ranging from 18% to 24% – this is in contrast to 2016/17, when people from the Asian and Mixed ethnic groups were less likely than the other ethnic groups to take part in volunteering
Things you need to know

The Community Life Survey (previously the Citizenship Survey) is a ‘sample survey’ – it collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach ‘findings’) about the total population.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty, as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for ethnic minority groups.

The commentary only refers to differences between groups where they are ‘statistically significant’. Findings are statistically significant when we can be confident that they can be repeated, and are reflective of the total population rather than just the survey sample.

Specifically, the statistical tests used mean we can be confident that if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population, 19 times out of 20 we would get similar findings.

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, 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 indicate their ethnicity from a choice of 18 categories.

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about these specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data here is broken down into the following 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
Ethnicity % Number of respondents % Number of respondents
All 22 10,256 22 10,217
Asian 17 1,111 18 926
Black 25 360 24 353
Mixed 16 467 19 510
White 23 8,022 23 8,108
Other 23 163 18 124

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, in 2017/18, 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 (2016/17)
  • the percentages of people saying they took part in formal volunteering were broadly similar across ethnic groups, ranging from 18% to 24% – this is in contrast to 2016/17, when people from the Asian and Mixed ethnic groups were less likely than White people to take part in volunteering
  • there were no significant differences with figures from the previous year (2016/17) for any ethnic group

3. Methodology

The Community Life Survey consists of an online or paper questionnaire, which was completed by 10,217 individuals in 2017/18.

The survey has 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 and 2017/18 survey samples are large enough for the results to be broken down by 5 broad ethnic groups. Before 2016/17, interviews were conducted face to face and the sample size was smaller. This meant it was only possible to compare White people with those from all other ethnic groups combined.

In the 2014/15 and 2015/16 survey years, sample sizes ranged from around 2,000 to 3,000 respondents, which was too small for 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 in the published tables in the series of releases for the Community Life Survey.

Weighting:

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.

Rounding

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

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Community Life Survey (CLS) is designed to track the latest trends and developments across areas that are important to encouraging social action and empowering communities. These areas 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

Regular formal volunteering - Spreadsheet (csv) 588 bytes

This file contains the following: ethnicity, time, value, sample size