In the run-up to the 2015 election, David Cameron pledged to require public sector employers and larger companies to give staff up to three days a year to do voluntary work. Since then, the Government has been muted on the subject.
Nonetheless, the Prime Minister’s commitment was emblematic of an increasing focus on volunteering across society. This is set to intensify in the face of protracted austerity and with an ever growing number of businesses using volunteering to bolster their philanthropic credentials. Added this, London is the 2016 European Volunteering Capital, although most of its denizens are no doubt unaware of the fact.
But why do people give time to causes and how do they personally benefit? Well, if you ask volunteers themselves you tend to find that they are primarily motivated by an urge to give back to the community and meet new people. Many also see volunteering as a way of developing new skills and enhancing their career prospects.
So far, so predictable. There are, however, other equally significant benefits for volunteers, many of which go largely un-communicated. Perhaps most significantly, by giving time to volunteer we enhance our own sense of well-being. There is plenty of evidence to support this, not least a fourteen-year study of some 22,000 German adults which found a ‘sizable positive relationship between volunteering and life satisfaction. People who never volunteer report, on average, the lowest scores of life satisfaction’ Researchers at the London School of Economics established a similar relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness from a large data set of American adults.
So, in essence, giving back makes us feel good. And, paradoxically, recent research also indicates that volunteering time makes us feel like we have more time. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her research found those who volunteer their time feel more time-rich. She concluded that this is because volunteering makes people feel more productive, so by giving even a small amount of time to someone else they feel they can do more in the time they have and accomplish more in the future. This is similar to other research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier.
When you consider all of these benefits, it’s perhaps surprising that fewer than one third of us in the UK actually get round to volunteering with any regularity. So what’s stopping us all from getting involved and creating a virtuous circle whereby volunteering makes us feel happier, and this happiness prompts us to do more volunteering and to encourage others to do likewise?Perhaps the most fundamental barrier to volunteering is a lack of time - or at least a perceived lack of time - and the associated fear that if you do volunteer you’re making an open-ended commitment. Allied to this, many people simply don’t know what sort of volunteering opportunities are available or how to get involved.
This is where the nation’s leading digital volunteering service, Do-it.org, comes in. Someone applies to volunteer every 40 seconds on Do-it at peak times. Users can search by postcode from a vast selection of volunteering opportunities offered by 45,000 charities and non-profits.
Vivi, a research company that also sits squarely at the intersection of volunteering and technology, is therefore delighted to announce a new partnership with Do-it. Vivi enables people to raise money for causes they care about by completing online surveys. People will be able to register with Vivi from the Do-it platform and micro-volunteer for their chosen charity, raising money for it by completing surveys.
Volunteering is set to further embrace digital technology in the coming years, offering people the chance not only to find opportunities online, but also contribute their time through their mobile devices and in small, easily manageable bursts. Do-it.org and Vivi are now at the forefront of this evolution.
Jamie Ward-Smith, Chief Executive at Do-it Trust, the charity behind the Do-it.org platform, said: ‘We use the internet for everything now, from booking taxis to finding places to stay abroad – there’s no reason volunteering should be the exception. We know many people are time poor but still keen to help out. This partnership will offer them the ability to give back through bite sized chunks of online volunteering.’
Julian Misell, Director of Vivi Research, said: ‘In Partnership with Do-it.org we aim to make it interesting and easy for people to give back by sharing their opinions. It’s also key that we help maximize the impact of a person’s time. That’s why if you complete a typical Vivi survey - which can usually be done on a mobile phone - you’ll raise between 50p and £2 for a charity.’
 Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself? Stephan Meier Alois Stutzer, University of Zurich (2004)
 Borgonovi, Francesca (2008) Doing well by doing good. The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness