Volunteer satisfaction and impact

In this report, we use the term ‘global majority’ to refer to all ethnic groups except white British and other white groups, including white minorities.

Learn more in the language and definitions section.

Overall satisfaction

Most global majority volunteers are satisfied with their volunteering.

86% of global majority volunteers who gave unpaid help in the last 12 months say they are very (36%) or fairly (50%) satisfied with their experience. See chart 9 below.

While most global majority volunteers are positive about their volunteer experience, satisfaction is lower compared to volunteers overall (86% vs 92%).

The biggest difference is in those who are ‘very satisfied’. Half (50%) of volunteers overall report being ‘very satisfied’, compared with just over a third (36%) of global majority volunteers.

Black volunteers are more satisfied compared with Asian volunteers and those from a mixed ethnic background.

Satisfaction levels vary by ethnic group. Black volunteers are the most satisfied, with 89% saying they are very or fairly satisfied. This is followed by 85% of Asian volunteers and 77% of those from a mixed ethnic background.

Of the three groups, Asian volunteers are least likely to say they are ‘very satisfied’ (30% Asian volunteers vs. 34% mixed volunteers and 38% black volunteers).

It is difficult from the survey data to explain what could be driving these differences. We saw from the demographic differences outlined in the volunteer participation section that each ethnic group has a slightly different demographic profile, which could be a factor.

For example, black volunteers are more likely to be older than other ethnic groups. We saw older volunteers are generally more likely to be satisfied.

Satisfaction is lower among younger, disabled and public sector volunteers.

Among global majority volunteers:

  • younger volunteers aged 18‒34 report relatively lower levels of satisfaction (79%) compared with older volunteers aged 55 and over (95%). The difference is greatest in those who are ‘very satisfied’, with older volunteers almost twice as likely to be very satisfied (29% vs. 54%)
  • disabled volunteers are less satisfied than non-disabled volunteers (80% vs. 91%)
  • public sector volunteers are least satisfied, with 75% satisfied compared with 91% satisfied for both civil society and private sector volunteers. Civil society volunteers are most likely to be ‘very satisfied’ (43% vs. 30% public and 31% private).

Interaction between age, sector and disability is likely contributing towards lower satisfaction.

Disabled volunteers from the global majority are less likely to be satisfied compared to disabled volunteers in the overall volunteer population (80% vs 88%).

Similarly, satisfaction is lowest for 18‒34-year-olds in both the global majority and volunteers overall.

However global majority volunteers aged 35‒54 and 55 and over are much less likely to be very satisfied than their equivalents in the overall volunteer population (38% vs 50% for those aged 35-54, and 54% vs 66% for those aged 55 and over).

These marked differences indicate age is likely to be a factor influencing volunteer satisfaction. However, some of the differences in patterns by age indicate there are other factors at play.

Data indicates that disability could be a factor. There are more disabled global majority volunteers aged 18‒34 and volunteering in the public sector compared to disabled volunteers overall.

Further analysis into what influences volunteer satisfaction looks at this interaction further.

Positive impacts of volunteering

Global majority volunteers perceive a wide range of personal benefits from volunteering.

A sense of personal achievement and feeling like they’re making a difference are the most commonly reported benefits by global majority volunteers (both 83%). See chart 10 below.

This highlights the importance of the personal benefits people get from volunteering as well as the satisfaction of helping others. Both are reflective of people’s top motivations for getting involved in volunteering.

Enjoyment is also one of the top benefits cited (82%). We know that enjoyment can mean different things to different people. It could be about having fun, but this is not necessarily the case for all volunteers. Especially those whose volunteering activities are, by nature, challenging and difficult.

Three-quarters (76%) of global majority volunteers report that their volunteering brings them into contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

In the volunteer motivations and values section we highlighted that cultural factors are among the most important values among global majority volunteers. Having ‘people from different backgrounds or cultures' around them ranked third most important (4.43).

The perceived benefits of volunteering vary according to ethnic group.

Those from a mixed ethnic background are generally less likely to perceive some of the benefits of volunteering. Fewer people in this group report personal achievement (69%), making a difference (69%), enjoyment (71%), gaining confidence (65%) and getting new skills and experience (60%).

Black volunteers and Asian volunteers report the positive impacts of volunteering at a broadly similar level. However black volunteers are less likely to report at least one of the negative impacts listed below (39%) compared with Asian volunteers (54%) and those from a mixed ethnic background (55%).

While there are no significant differences in overall satisfaction levels within the Asian volunteer group between Pakistani and Indian volunteers, there are differences in perceived benefits[1].

Pakistani volunteers are less likely to report:

  • making a difference (71% vs. 93%)
  • enjoyment (74% vs. 93%)
  • gaining new skills and experience (70% vs. 77%).

There are no differences when reflecting on specific negative impacts.

Global majority volunteers are less likely to report a number of key positive impacts, but are more likely to report improved employment prospects.

Global majority volunteers are very positive about the benefits they get from volunteering in general. However, the impacts which are most highly rated by global majority volunteers (see chart 10 above) are cited by a lower proportion compared with volunteers overall.

For example, 83% of global majority volunteers agree volunteering gives them a sense of personal achievement, compared to 88% of volunteers overall. A similar picture is seen for feeling that they make a difference (83% vs 89%).

Global majority volunteers are more likely to report improving employment prospects as a benefit (47% vs 39%). As seen in the volunteer motivation and values section, this is a particularly strong motivation for global majority volunteers.

Negative impacts of volunteering

As well as exploring the benefits, a number of negative impacts were presented to respondents. See chart 11 below.

Around half (49%) of global majority volunteers selected at least one of the negative impacts. Some of these impacts are explored in more detail in the experiences of volunteering section.

Pressures on time and commitment, as well as feeling excluded are most commonly cited (see chart 11 above).

Global majority volunteers are more likely to report a negative impact.

Global majority volunteers are also more likely to report a negative experience compared with volunteers overall (49% vs 36%).

Specifically, they are more likely to report too much time being taken up (20% vs 13%) and it negatively affecting family life (8% vs 5%).

12% of global majority volunteers agreed with the statement ‘I felt I wasn’t part of the group (ie excluded)’. This is twice as high as volunteers overall (6%).

Timbrell’s case studies of four organisations illustrate what exclusion and marginalisation can look like for global majority volunteers. Global majority volunteers (referred to as ‘BAME volunteers’ in the research) report:

  • feeling that they are taking up space that white volunteers believe is theirs
  • feeling the need to explain or justify their presence in a volunteer team experiences of racism and microaggressions.

Younger and disabled global majority volunteers are more likely to feel excluded.

Younger global majority volunteers were more likely to cite negative impacts generally (63% 18–34 year olds vs. 27% volunteers aged 55 and over).

Almost one in five (18%) 18‒34 year olds say they have experiences of feeling excluded. This is much higher than global majority volunteers aged 55+ (3%).

Another group much more likely to report feeling excluded is disabled people. 21% of disabled global majority volunteers say they have felt excluded, compared with 7% of non-disabled global majority volunteers.

Disabled global majority volunteers are more likely to feel excluded than disabled volunteers overall (21% vs 9%).

There was much less of a difference among volunteers overall. 9% of disabled volunteers overall say they have felt excluded, compared with 5% of non-disabled volunteers overall.


  1. Differences relating to Indian and Pakistani volunteers have been highlighted as we have a sufficient sample size for both of these groups. We do not have sufficient data to draw out insights for other nationalities who identify as Asian. See the appendix for a breakdown of the data in each of these groups.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 28 November 2023