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Ireland Number One in Europe for Volunteering: Let’s Aim for Number One in the World

The latest World Giving Index (Nov 2015) by the Charities Aid Foundation has been published  and it ranks Ireland as number one in Europe in terms of volunteering time.

Ireland once again ranks in the top ten on the overall index, coming in at ninth in the world and second in Europe behind the UK. The index is based on three criteria: helping a stranger, donating money and volunteering time. Ireland comes in at number one in Europe for volunteering, ranking seventh globally.

The Irish people have always been very generous with their time and that is evidenced once again by this index. However, it is important that we don’t become complacent and continue to build on our great culture. There is no reason why Ireland shouldn’t aim to be number one in the world for volunteering.


According to Terri Doherty, Co-ordinator, Longford Volunteer Centre“We are lucky to have a great culture of volunteering in this country but we can never have too many volunteers! Volunteers contribute to every aspect of Irish society and this country would look very different without them. The nature of volunteering has changed so much in recent years that there really is a volunteering role for everyone. Not every role requires a long-term commitment and some don’t even require a physical presence. We are seeing more and more once off and short term volunteering opportunities. There is even some volunteering that can be done in the comfort of your own home. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about volunteering to get in touch and see what is out there.”

Over a quarter of adults aged 15 or over volunteer in Ireland. Well done to all those volunteers!!

CSO statistical release, 16 July 2015, 11am

QNHS Volunteering and Wellbeing

Q3 2013

Percentage of persons aged 15 or over who volunteered and number of hours volunteered Q3 2013
Age Group Total Number of hours volunteered in 12 months
  % ('million)
State 28.4 232.8
15 - 24 16.8 16.0
25 - 34 21.7 23.1
35 - 44 30.3 41.4
45 - 54 38.0 58.8
55 - 64 37.2 52.2
65+ 27.8 41.2

Over a quarter of adults aged 15 or over volunteer in Ireland

Fig 1Persons aged 15 and over who volunteered July-September 2013.

A module on volunteering and a pilot module on subjective well-being were included in the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) in the three months from July to September 2013 (quarter 3). This release presents the results from those modules. 

Summary of main results

  • Over a quarter of adults aged 15 years and above volunteered in Ireland (28.4% of persons). A slightly higher percentage of females (28.7%) than males volunteered (28.1%). See table 1.1.
  • In terms of time spent volunteering, over 232.8 million hours annually were worked. Some 65% of those hours were volunteered by those aged 45 years and above. Those aged 15-24 volunteered the least amount of hours (6.9%). See table 1.1 and figure 1.
  • Applying  the relevant national minimum wage the value of this unpaid work would be over €2 billion. Nearly 58% of this was carried out by females. See table 1.1.
  • Half of all volunteering was work carried out directly by individuals (54.7% of hours worked) rather than through organisations (45.3%). The younger members of the population (15-24) who volunteered tended more than other age groups to volunteer through an organisation (68.8% of hours worked). See table 1.2.
  • The bulk of volunteer work carried out by females was in the Caring, leisure and other service occupations (58.3%). See table 1.4.
  • More than 4 in 10 persons who volunteered worked up to 100 hours a year. For the older age groups this tended to increase and over 9% of those aged 55 – 64 volunteered over 700 hours a year. See table 1.6.
  • The majority of people indicated that they volunteered for just one type of voluntary activity (82.7%) with 14.5% volunteering for two types of activity, but nearly 1 in every 4 persons aged 65+ who volunteered carried out at least two different types of volunteering activity. See table 1.7.
  • Four out of every five adults (82.3%) viewed the things that they did in their lives as worthwhile by giving a rating of 7 or more out of 10. See table 2.2.
  • When asked about day-to-day emotions nearly 4 in 5 (77.8%) of the population rated their happiness the previous day as ‘very high’ or ‘high’. See table 2.3.
  • On the other hand 14.6% of the population declared that they experienced a ‘high’ level of anxiety the previous day. Over a quarter (28.5%) of all females rated their anxiety as ‘medium’ or ‘high’. See table 2.4.
  • Those who volunteered were more likely to rate their level of life worthwhile as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ (84.3%) than those who did not volunteer (76%). See tables 3.1 and 3.2.


The overall  rate of volunteering for the country stood at 28.4% of persons in Quarter 3 2013. This figure included all types of work outside the volunteer’s household as long as it was unpaid and non-compulsory. The value of this work (after annualising the hours and applying  the national minimum wage) amounted to over €2 billion annually. While the percentage of those volunteering was broadly  similar between men and women it was only when looking at the number of hours and value that one sees a somewhat different picture.See table 1.1.

Over 47% of all volunteering hours were carried out by those aged 45 to 64. Those who volunteered the least number of hours were the 15 to 24 age group  (6.9% of hours). Over a quarter of those aged 65 and above volunteered and accounted for over 41 million annualised hours (17.7%). See figure 1 and table 1.1.

Although those who were classified as single represented 41% of the adult population they only accounted for 29.4% of all volunteering hours. Also they were less likely to volunteer (22.1%). This compared with those who were married, where 33.8% volunteered and they accounted for 56.3% of all volunteer hours. 


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Public called to get involved in Volunteering in the Community

One in five people don’t volunteer because they don’t know how to get involved

Longford Volunteer Centre is calling on the public to get involved in volunteering in the community next month – as National Volunteering Week takes place from May 11-17th.

National Volunteering Week highlights the multitude of ways that individuals and organisations can get involved in supporting causes, aiding charities and helping in their local communities.

Research commissioned by Volunteer Ireland has found that for 20% of people the main barrier to getting involved in volunteering is not knowing where or how to find opportunities. However, Longford Volunteer Centre is determined to change this during National Volunteering Week.

Encouragingly the research, carried out by nfpSynergy, also found that 25% of Irish adults are involved in regular volunteering. The most common place where people volunteer, at 72%, is with a local charity. The most common motivation to volunteer was to support a specific cause (55%), while helping out in the local community was the priority for 53% of volunteers.

To signpost people to where the multitude of opportunities lie, the Centre is highlighting the ways that people can make the most of volunteering week.

Longford Volunteer Centre, Coordinator, Terri Doherty said: “The key step is to go to where people can find a volunteering role near them to suit their interest or skill. Alternatively people can call into or phone Longford Volunteer Centre at 087 291 5367.

Ms. Doherty also drew attention to using the online volunteer database ‘I-VOL’, which can also be found at I-VOL works both ways – people can search for volunteering opportunities in their local areas and organisations also can post that they are searching for volunteers.

In 2014 more than 12,400 volunteers engaged with I-VOL and local Volunteer Centres and clocked up an incredible 470,000 hours of volunteering.