9.1. Sample, quota, and fieldwork dates
We commissioned YouGov to recruit a nationally representative sample of 7,000 adults aged 18 years or older in Great Britain via an online panel. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition (see table 1, below) to provide a representative reporting sample. The total sample size was 7,006 adults. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. NCVO analysed the data independently.
The table shows sampling quota for each of the demographics. The survey data was then weighted to the marginal region, social grade and age, gender, and educational-level distributions. All the percentages presented in this report are based on weighted data.
The fieldwork took place from 23 November to 6 December 2022. The survey was carried out online and lasted approximately 15 minutes. 8,043 started the survey, and 7,082 completed it, resulting in a completion rate of 88%.
For details of the methodology taken in Time Well Spent 2019, please see its appendices. The nationally representative sample of 10,103 adult in Great Britain was drawn from YouGov. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4 and 15 May 2018.
9.2. Social classifications explained
The research followed the standard definition and methodology used in the census and other research to classify socio-demographic groups. The key classifications are described below.
Social grade is a classification based on the occupation of the chief income earner of the household, with six categories. Information is collected about their current or last job, so that all respondents (except those who had never worked) are coded. More details on social grade can be found on the National Readership Survey social grade definition page.
There are six classification categories:
- A – Professional occupations
- B – Managerial and technical occupations
- C1 – Non-manual skilled occupations
- C2 – Manual skilled occupations
- D – Partly skilled manual occupations
- E – Unskilled occupations
In this report, we group respondents into two broad categories, ABC1 (non-manual occupations) and C2DE (manual occupations and people not working).
Other socio-demographic analysis variables
These are generally taken directly from information collected by questionnaire when people join the YouGov panel. The principal variables are:
- highest educational qualification obtained
- working status
For disability, we use the following definitions.
- Disabled: reported day-to-day activities being limited in some way because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months.
- Non-disabled: reported no limitations to day-to-day activities because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months.
9.3. Questionnaire development
Before developing the entire questionnaire, we carried out a scoping phase, to help shape the research and its focus. This comprised of three parts.
We conducted a rapid review of existing literature, and previous and current national surveys on volunteering, to review the existing evidence base on volunteering and identify knowledge gaps. The review focused particularly on volunteering trends during and after the covid-19 pandemic.
We carried out five interviews with external stakeholders across the voluntary sector who were familiar with, and used, Time Well Spent 2019. Our aim was to understand their current priorities and interests. We also engaged with volunteer managers at events held by NCVO.
From this scoping phase, we identified a number of priority areas, which formed the basis of the questionnaire. We drew on existing survey questions where relevant – especially where these questions had previously undergone cognitive testing.
We also asked experts to review the draft questionnaire; this involved a broad range of stakeholders including researchers, volunteer managers and other voluntary sector experts. These reviews helped us ensure our questions were clear and relevant. They also helped us prioritise questions, given the limited number of questions we could include in the survey. As the bulk of the 2019 survey was replicated, cognitive testing was not carried out.
As part of this process, we decided which questions from the 2019 survey to retain and to amend for comparability between the two surveys. The key questions that we amended are covered in section 9.4, below.
9.4. Methodology of specific questions
How the 2023 survey differs from our 2019 survey
As indicated in section 1, Time Well Spent 2023 sought to replicate the methodology taken in 2019, to ensure as much comparability as possible. Throughout the report, we have made comparisons when the same question was asked in 2019 and 2023. However, we made changes to some questions to reflect the current volunteering context. We have noted these where relevant throughout the report, to highlight where they may be limitations to comparison. For any major changes, such as to participation rates, we draw on alternative sources of data.
The key questions that we amended are outlined below:
Our reading of the existing research, especially research on volunteering during the pandemic, indicated an increasingly blurring line between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ volunteering. To accurately capture the breadth of volunteering – some potentially not considered to be volunteering by those giving it – we restructured the 2019 questionnaire to include both formal and informal volunteering.
To do this, the 2023 survey first asked respondents about any unpaid help they had given, gradually filtering their volunteering (or unpaid help) by activities and time periods (last 12 months, last 3 years, or ever). Below is the order of the questions:
- Have you ever given unpaid help to someone who is not a relative?
- Have you given unpaid help in the last 3 years?
- Have you given unpaid help in the last 12 months?
- Which kind of unpaid help did you give in the last 12 months / 3 years?
This ensured we captured all kinds of unpaid help, whether it was given through groups, clubs, or organisations (formally), or given informally. To help our analysis, the survey then asked respondents roughly how much of their unpaid help was given through clubs, groups, or organisations:
- All of it
- Most of it
- Some of it
- None of it
Since this change was likely to affect the comparability of volunteer participation rates, we have used alternative data sources, such as the Community Life Survey, when discussing this element.
When we asked where volunteering was carried out, two answer options were amended from ‘On the go (eg on my phone/laptop), not in a set location’ and ‘in my home’ (2019) to ‘Online or over the phone’ and ‘In my home, not online or over the phone’ (2023). We made this change to address the increased use of remote volunteering and volunteering from home, and to separate those who volunteered online or over the phone from those who volunteered from home without technology.
Additionally, in 2019 we asked survey participants about the extent of their online volunteering using two questions (‘online volunteering’ included all activities carried out online, for example, starting a petition or responding to emails). First, we asked participants whether they volunteered exclusively online, and then we asked how frequently they volunteered online. In contrast, in 2023 we asked participants whether they volunteered exclusively online or over the phone, and then we specifically asked how frequently they volunteered online.
Barriers to volunteering
When asking why some respondents stopped volunteering or did not intend to continue volunteering, we added an extra answer code. This allowed us to separate those who stopped or intend to stop due to health conditions related to covid-19 versus those who stopped or intend to stop due to other health conditions.
In addition, in 2023 we asked the same question to people who had not volunteered formally or informally in the last three years or ever. In contrast, in 2019 we just asked this question to people who had not volunteered formally.
Volunteer values questions
This section outlines the process and methodology used to develop a question on volunteer values, discussed in section 4. We added this new question to help us understand what volunteers and non-volunteers value if they are to give unpaid help.
The key findings of Time Well Spent 2019 showed eight key factors that comprised a quality volunteer experience.
- Balanced – It doesn’t overburden those who volunteer with unnecessary processes.
- Connected – It gives people a sense of connection to others, a cause and/or an organisation.
- Enjoyable – It provides enjoyment and people feel good about what they are doing.
- Flexible – It takes into account how people who volunteer can give their time and fits around their circumstances.
- Impactful – It makes a positive difference.
- Inclusive – It is welcoming and accessible to all.
- Meaningful – It resonates with people’s lives, interests and priorities.
- Voluntary – The volunteer has freely chosen to do it.
Based on this, we developed 10 statements exploring these values. The statements are below:
- It is important to be given the opportunity to influence the development of the group, club, or organisation.
- It is important to feel recognised enough for the help they give.
- It is important to feel like they belong to the group, club, or organisation.
- It is important to feel the group, club, or organisation is making a difference.
- They value a culture of respect and trust in the group, club, or organisation.
- They want people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures.
- It is important for them that they are not pressured to give more time.
- It is important for them to meet people through the group, club, or organisation.
- It is important for them that they enjoy giving unpaid help.
- It is important for them that they feel less isolated as a result of giving unpaid help.
To understand the values of non-volunteers, we asked all respondents to imagine a person who is giving unpaid help and to rate each statement on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being: ‘They are not at all like me’, and 6 being: ‘They are very much like me’. We calculated a mean score for each statement to compare the values.