We define volunteering as any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives. Central to this definition is the fact that volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual.

This can include formal activity undertaken through public, private and voluntary organisations as well as informal community participation and social action. Everyone has the right to volunteer and volunteering can have significant benefits for individuals.


NCVO supports the #iwill campaign which aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year-olds as possible by the year 2020. We have pledged to support the campaign in a number of ways, from showcasing the impact of youth social action during Volunteers’ Week and to developing practical guidance to support organisations to involve young people. Find out more about our pledge on the #iwill website.

Find out more about volunteering

Consultation responses

October 2015 Home Office consultation on reforming the powers of police staff and volunteers

Parliamentary briefings

January 2017 National Citizen Service bill - Commons second reading
December 2016 National Citizen Service bill - Lords report stage
November 2016 National Citizen Service bill - Lords committee briefing
October 2016 National Citizen Service bill - Lords second reading 
October 2016 Joint statement on National Citizen Service - Second reading

Latest volunteering press releases

Charities and volunteering are at the heart of our shared society

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said:

I was very pleased to hear the prime minister’s speech today. She is entirely correct that the state alone cannot solve problems, and that different types of organisations share the responsibility for improving our society, but also that between us we have the skills to make it happen.

National Citizen Service should work more closely with local charities, says NCVO

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which represents charities and volunteering, has welcomed the government's announcement that the National Citizen Service (NCS) will be given a royal charter along with measures to enhance its accountability. NCS has provided positive experiences for many young people and helped them develop important skills.

However, NCVO said that NCS could still do more to work with local charities to ensure it reaches its potential as a starting point for life-long volunteering.

All press releases

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