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Employee volunteering could generate £17bn a year for charities


Letting employees volunteer for an average of an hour a week could result in an extra £17 billion a year for charities and community groups, according to research from Pilotlight.

Pilotlight’s report, called Give your culture a workout, is based on surveying of over 4,000 people. It shows a demand from the UK workforce for employers to do more to support skills-based volunteering in the community, and highlights the positive impact this would have on charities and community groups, as well as businesses.

The report estimates that at least 8,300 charities and social enterprises have benefitted from this kind of support in the past year, with around six million people (21% of the workforce) putting their work skills into use on a voluntary basis. A further 50% say they would like to volunteer using their occupational or professional skills.

In addition, 77% of employees believe employers should be supportive of their staff taking time to volunteer and 82% believe volunteering helps their work skills and knowledge. 79% also believe businesses themselves benefit.

Estimating that 45% of adults would like to use the skills or knowledge they have developed at work to help good causes on a voluntary basis, it states that this would generate a potential £17 billion of skilled support.

Ed Mayo, CEO of Pilotlight, commented:

“Work is changing. Now, the new patterns of work that people want are more porous, with learning, participation and purpose that goes beyond the predictable. In this context, there is a new dynamic emerging of ‘pro bono’ volunteering, in which people can use their skills in a charitable setting. In the post pandemic context, this is good for business.


“We believe more and more employees are looking for a ‘workout culture’, one that actively supports them to get involved in causes and their community. From our experience we know this is a really powerful way to attract and retain the best employees.”

Good for business too

In terms of how it would help businesses, the report highlights a number of benefits, including increased employee wellbeing; better staff retention and loyalty; better and stronger links with charities in their local community; increased attraction to potential employees; enhanced profile and reputation with clients, potential clients and other key stakeholders; and evidence of impact and commitment to increasing their sustainability, advancing their diversity, equity and inclusion and reaching their community engagement targets..

Sally Bailey, Chair of Trustees for Pilotlight, commented:

“In our post-pandemic context, what is new is not the fact that business can help charities. It is the recognition that charities can help business. Skills-based volunteering is good for both. Our research suggests that the practice is growing fast and has the potential one day to overtake charitable donations from business.”

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