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BHF sees rise in micro-volunteering among Gen Z

British Heart Foundation charity shop in Looe, Cornwall. Photo: BHF
British Heart Foundation charity shop in Looe, Cornwall. Photo: BHF

BHF’s charity shops are seeing a rise in younger volunteers, particularly when it comes to ‘micro-volunteering’ where people drop in for an hour or two without committing to anything regular or long-term.

BHF conducted a survey of 3,068 of its retail volunteers and found that 73% of 16-18-year-olds volunteer for up to five hours per week.

BHF also found that volunteers across all age groups are now opting for ad hoc shifts rather than traditional regular volunteering patterns.


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In addition, the demographic of its volunteers is also shifting, with the average age now 30 compared to 50 before the pandemic. Over half (53%) of BHF’s volunteer recruits last year were also between the ages of 16 and 24.

Almost half (46%) of the charity’s volunteers aged 16-24-year-olds say that volunteering has improved their mental health, and seven in 10 of its volunteers say meeting people is the most important thing they get out of volunteering. 94% of volunteer respondents also said volunteering with BHF fits around their life and is flexible.

Volunteer Joe Leatherbarrow volunteers flexibly while studying for a maths degree at the University of Bristol.

He said:

“I like to speak to older people in different walks of life and get out of the student bubble. I usually show up and see what tasks need doing and then get stuck in, whether it’s till operating, scanning items, tagging or arranging displays. I don’t work in the back, as I prefer being front of house and chatting to the team and customers.”


“I have a very busy timetable, but I squeeze in volunteering hours where I can between lectures. If I need to change this, I can just speak to the shop manager, whether that’s because of uni stress, visiting family, or just needing a lie in!”

BHF is offering drop-in ‘taster’ volunteer sessions in its shops this summer, where people can drop in for an hour or two with no ongoing commitment, either from home or at their local BHF shop.

Sarah Boardman, Retail Volunteering Operations Manager, said:

“We are seeing increasing numbers of volunteers seek flexibility and opt for ‘micro-volunteering’, where they pop in for an hour or two, instead of traditional regular shifts. We appreciate all our volunteers, every hour makes a difference, and no matter how much time you spend with us, you will be helping to fund lifesaving research.


“Our volunteer survey shows 96% of our volunteers would recommend volunteering at the BHF. Whether you’re obsessed with all things preloved, want to try out something creative, or just hoping to meet some new people, we will welcome anyone who wants to book in one of our taster sessions and try out volunteering.”