Volunteering: A Family Affair?


Date of Publication: 28 September, 2020

Authors: Angela Ellis Paine, Oliver Chan, Véronique Jochum, Daiga Kamerade, Amy McGarvey, and Joanna Stuart

Published by: NCVO Publications

This British study examined the links between family and volunteering. It did so by reviewing existing evidence, mapping family volunteering opportunities, undertaking analysis of the Time Use Survey, and carrying out organisational and family case studies.

Family volunteering looks and feels very different in different families and organisations. It includes, but is about far more than, parents and children volunteering together within the same organisation. The authors identified five types of family volunteering: do together, do alongside, do for, bring along, and do separately.

The authors discussed seven questions which organisations may want to consider regarding family volunteering.

  1. How do families currently engage with your organisation?
  2. How do you want to involve families and what approach to family volunteering is right for you?
  3. Can you enhance the volunteering pathways for families within your organisation?
  4. Can you do more to help families balance volunteering with family life?
  5. How can you ensure that family volunteering is as inclusive as possible?
  6. How does the balance you are striking between risk management and being inclusive affect the involvement of families in volunteering?
  7. How can you help to ensure that families, and your organisation, get the most out of volunteering?

The research found that volunteering generally has positive outcomes for families, but at times, it can also add to the stresses of family life. Organisations can get a lot out of family volunteering, and the returns are likely to be even greater when families have a positive experience of volunteering.

Despite family volunteering being extensive, it may no longer continue to flourish by default. The involvement of families in volunteering needs attention and nurturing. The interest expressed by organisations and families in learning about and designing ways to support families to volunteer suggests this might be possible.

An executive summary is available here.