At a glance

  • Time Well Spent is an NCVO research programme which focuses on the volunteer experience. It aims to provide rich, practical insight that will inform debate within the sector and strengthen the impact of volunteering.
  • It is the fourth in a series of Time Well Spent thematic reports, focusing on the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the volunteering experience.
  • It aims to explore the wider impact of the pandemic on volunteers through summarising existing literature and conducting research with both volunteer managers and volunteers about their experience. Focusing on the motivations for and barriers to volunteering, the report also aims to inform policy and practice in this area.
  • The research was conducted in three stages: desk research, a practitioner workshop, and four volunteer focus groups.
  • The research findings suggest that the covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on volunteer management, organisation and experience, while motivations to volunteer remained largely the same as in pre-pandemic times.
  • Volunteering during the pandemic also brought about innovations such as virtual volunteering and a more diverse cohort of new volunteers. Some of these changes will continue to shape the future of post-pandemic volunteering.
  • Volunteers reported a generally positive experience while also going through pandemic-specific challenges. Some volunteers experience emotional fatigue and burnout from volunteering.
  • The major barrier to volunteering during the pandemic was a risk to health, and this remained unresolved for those who stopped volunteering.
  • This report ends with recommendations for volunteer-involving organisations on how to capitalise on these learnings, as well as how to restore and support volunteer wellbeing.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 22 July 2022