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Volunteering funds

These funds are now closed

Encouraging new volunteers from under-represented groups is a fundamental part of our vision for volunteering.

Our two volunteering funds supported new ways to bring the benefits of volunteering in sport and physical activity to new audiences. We worked with a range of new partners such as the #iwill Fund to invest up to £30 million in more than 30 nationwide volunteering projects.

Each programme was vital to testing and learning what works best to bring new people into volunteering, helping us to reach many more potential volunteers in the future.

A group of women walking - part of the Diversity Matters North West project

Why we invested in volunteers

Every month, 5.6 million people in England give up their time to enable others to take part in sport and physical activity. For some, it’s about giving something back to their community or making a difference to the people around them. For others, it’s a chance to develop new skills, gain experience or make new friends. In many cases, it’s both.

But there are many people who may never have considered the idea of volunteering or social action. We wanted to change that. We wanted to increase the number of people who could benefit from the power of volunteering.

Through our investments, we wanted to help create great new opportunities for people to give their time – to maximise the benefits to individuals and their communities.

Why is working with volunteers important?

We’re working to get more people active across England, regardless of age, background or ability. Within that, the importance of volunteering is immense. It has the power to change lives for those giving their time, and by helping others get active.

What was the purpose of these funds?

Our Potentials Fund targeted young people aged 10-20 years who wanted to give their time, while our Opportunity Fund was designed to attract those aged 20 and above from disadvantaged communities.

Both supported projects for groups where we identified significant untapped potential. We knew that those with lower household incomes, young people, women, disabled people, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities were less likely to volunteer in sport, yet they were often keen volunteers in other sectors such as religion or education.

We wanted to see how we could use sport or physical activity to fulfil their motivations. In turn, communities see an even greater benefit when there are more volunteers from their own neighbourhood.

Example projects

Additional resources

Our Volunteering Insight Guide has insight from national surveys on volunteering across all sectors, details on what we know about volunteering in sport specifically, as well as #iwill’s research into youth social action.

You can see our Workforce section for more information on how we’re supporting the 6.2 million adults who are giving their time to support sport and physical activity through volunteering.

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