Part 2: Volunteering in a pandemic

The Changing Picture of Volunteering

Quick overview of volunteering pre-pandemic

While 51% of respondents did not volunteer in 2020, 40% of that group had volunteered once annually prior to the pandemic, and 32% two to six times per year.

An overwhelming 90% of respondents motivation for volunteering pre-2020 was to give something back to their community and the country. Supporting a Cause that they cared about was also a factor for 65%. Volunteering as a way to gain recognition from their employer only drew 2%, while more individuals (14%) enjoyed the fact that their community work allowed them time to interact with colleagues outside of the work environment.


Nine of ten respondents who had NOT volunteered in 2020, indicated that they were planning to volunteer in the future!  (And we saw this in our numbers across the our Corporate ecosystem)

23% of respondents volunteered in 2020, with most being senior staff members. In fact, 53% of volunteers in 2020 were top management and executives, with 14% being ordinary employees or non-management workers and 18% coming from the ranks of junior management.

What was their motivation?

Employees motivation remained very similar to the pre-pandemic drivers:

  • 93% of respondents wanted to “give back” to their communities and South Africa as a whole and cited this as their primary reason for volunteering.
  • 68% also said they wanted to support a cause that they cared about
  • 29% indicated that they wanted to learn more about the needs in their community

Interesting to note: In 2020, respondents were most likely to have volunteered without company support (35%). (This was a surprise to forgood, as company support we find is one of the biggest drivers of a successful EVP.)

33% of respondents participated in company-organised group volunteering initiatives.

29% of respondents followed by individual volunteering facilitated by their employer.

This shows us that that a hybrid of both structured and unstructured volunteering opportunities works.  Yes, definitely tie your CSI strategies into EVP (it’s a must) however don’t leave behind the employees that want to volunteer on their own terms, with Causes that are close to their hearts.

39% volunteered two to six times during 2020, followed by 32% of respondents who volunteered once in that year, mostly working with the end beneficiaries of an NPO (42%), and 35% spending time providing other services to an NPO or charity.

However, what appears to be a miss is the types of activities that volunteers were involved in and the actual type of activities that they WANT to be involved in.  The respondents showed that they would like to be involved in manual labour for Causes, a staggering 56%. 

What does this tell us?  Your employees love to get their hands dirty!  Bring back “in person” volunteering activities and events

What’s happening in Cause sector?

Social and community development (63%) and education (61%) were the most popular Causes for employees during 2020.  This mirrors what we have seen on our platforms with our Corporate partners.  Corporates really got behind our youth, some, simply by purchasing data for learners who were learning remotely, others put their skills to use by mentoring children virtually.

A big takeout which confirmed what we have become to know over the last 10 years of creating EVP’s – is that organisations that were supported were most commonly identified through the companies employee volunteering platform!

Not forgetting and again reiterating what we know, the top criteria for selecting Causes to volunteer with, were the Corporates alignment with the respondents interests (70%) and then followed strongly by the specific need to which the organisation responds (61%).

Most respondents (88%) supported between one or three Causes during 2020.  Which shows volunteering is NOT a once off activity and that repeat volunteering is at an all time high.

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