Public sector volunteers ‘less satisfied’ than their charity counterparts, research shows

Figures published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations indicate that people find volunteering in the public sector more bureaucratic.

People who volunteer in public sector roles are less satisfied with their work than those who give their time to charities, new research shows.

Time Well Spent: Volunteering in the Public Sector, published today by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, shows that almost a quarter of people volunteering in the public sector, such as in hospitals or libraries, as magistrates or as school governors, said their experience was “too much like paid work”.

The research, which is based on a survey of 10,000 adults conducted by the polling company YouGov, found that although 94 per cent of people volunteering in the public sector said they were satisfied with the experience, only 47 per cent said they were “very satisfied”, compared with 58 per cent of charity volunteers.

Researchers found that 76 per cent of public sector volunteers said they would continue with their volunteering, seven percentage points lower than among charity volunteers.

The survey found that 32 per cent of those volunteering in the public sector said there was too much bureaucracy, compared with 21 per cent of charity volunteers.

Twenty-two per cent of public sector volunteers said they felt the organisation had unreasonable expectations of their time, eight percentage points higher than volunteers in the charity sector.

Karl Wilding, chief executive of the NCVO, said getting public sector volunteering right held the potential to make a positive difference to services by harnessing people’s desire to help out in their communities.

“Good volunteering programmes can deliver great returns for communities and public sector bodies, but they do require investment, both financially and in terms of a real commitment from organisations to truly understand volunteering,” he said.

“There are some excellent volunteering programmes in the public sector and the question now is how we help all organisations to match these examples.”

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