Last updated 8 August 2023 - see all updates

1. Main facts and figures

  • 23% of people aged 16 and over in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month in the year ending March 2020
  • Asian people were consistently less likely to volunteer than White people or Black people over the 4 years covered

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures the percentage of people aged 16 and over who had volunteered formally at least once a month in the 12 months before being surveyed.

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

Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Not included in the data

The data does not include informal volunteering, for example doing unpaid work for friends or family.

The ethnic groups used in the data

People chose their ethnicity from a list of 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census.

Data is shown for the following 5 aggregated groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make reliable generalisations about all 18 ethnic groups.


Read the detailed methodology document (PDF opens in a new window or tab) for the data.

The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about interpreting survey data, including how reliability is affected by the number of people surveyed.

You can also read about how weighting is used to make survey estimates more representative of the group they are about.

3. By ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 16 and over who formally volunteered at least once a month, by ethnicity
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
Ethnicity 2016-17 % 2016-17 Number of respondents 2017-18 % 2017-18 Number of respondents 2018-19 % 2018-19 Number of respondents 2019-20 % 2019-20 Number of respondents
All 22 10,256 22 10,217 22 10,627 23 10,243
Asian 17 1,111 18 926 16 909 15 798
Black 25 360 24 353 25 348 24 396
Mixed 16 467 19 510 19 499 19 464
White 23 8,022 23 8,108 22 8,560 23 8,057
Other 23 163 18 124 22 125 18 118

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

Summary of Volunteering By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that, in the year ending March 2020:

  • 23% of people aged 16 and over in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month – a small increase compared with the previous 3 years (all 22%)
  • Asian people (15%) were less likely to have volunteered than Black people (24%) or White people (23%)
  • there were no reliable differences compared with the previous year for any ethnic group

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics


Department for 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
  • wellbeing

5. Download the data

Volunteering - Spreadsheet (csv) 2 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, value, number of respondents