Volunteering is an amazing way for people to give back to their community. Not only in times of crisis, but all year round. Whether it’s packing parcels at a food bank, providing care in the community, lifeguarding at the pool or leading community groups at the local church, there are opportunities to help out all around us.

Volunteers are more likely to continue volunteering and recommend it to others if they find the experience fulfilling, enjoyable and worthwhile. They’re also more likely to return to volunteering later in life if they left on a positive note. This is why it’s so important for us to continually learn and improve.

Over the past five years, NCVO’s Time Well Spent research has provided valuable insights about volunteers’ experiences. These insights have helped organisations create quality volunteering opportunities that motivate, attract and ultimately retain volunteers. We have also explored the barriers to volunteering to help make it more inclusive and easier for more people to get involved.

This latest research focuses on understanding the experiences and perspectives of people from the global majority. This is the term we use to capture the experiences of all ethnic groups except white British and other white minority groups. The research is the first of its kind, and the results are very revealing.

What we found

We know from our previous Time Well Spent research that satisfaction among volunteers has fallen in recent years. This new research finds volunteers from the global majority feel even less satisfied, more excluded and less likely to continue compared to volunteers overall.

It’s vital we understand why this is, and what needs to be done differently to ensure volunteering continues to be diverse, reflective and inclusive.

On a more positive note, the research shows there is plenty of interest among the global majority in volunteering. It's clear there is potential for further engagement. We need to prioritise building a culture of trust, respect, and belonging to ensure global majority volunteers have the best possible experience.

Next steps

This research is just the beginning. It’s important that we continue to learn and explore the experiences of people from the global majority. And we need to go further. We will need to conduct further research to gain a deeper understanding into the subsections of these communities and look at it through an intersectional lens so that their experiences can be captured in the coming years.

For now, though, this is an important first step. We believe the research is not only interesting, but informative and practically applicable today. For example, NCVO will use it to develop practical guidance and help organisations build more inclusive volunteering programmes.

Enriching these programmes will help organisations deliver amazing services and enhance the experiences of volunteers from the global majority. The brilliance and selfless dedication of global majority volunteers makes a massive contribution to strengthening our communities and making our society a better place for all.

Dr Priya Singh

Chair, NCVO


The Time Well Spent 2023 report series has been funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In addition to the financial support, NCVO is grateful for the department’s support and contributions.

We’d like to thank the following organisations for contributing their lived experience and professional expertise to inform this report.

  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Black Cultural Archives
  • Baobab Foundation
  • Girlguiding UK
  • Muslim Charities Forum
  • South Asian Health Action:
  • The Ubele Initiative

We are grateful to external contributors Joanna Stuart, Kim Donahue, Sally Malam and Véronique Jochum, and NCVO colleague Jim Beck for their input into the report.

We also thank other NCVO colleagues who fed in their expertise and experience.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 24 January 2024