More than 2.7 million people in Spain volunteer

by Lorraine Williamson
volunteer in Spain

Around 2.7 million people in Spain carry out voluntary work, representing 6.4% of the Spanish population over the age of 14, according to the report La Acción Voluntaria en 2021, by the Spanish Platform for Volunteering (PVE). 

The report was published in the context of the International Day of Volunteering. This is celebrated annually on 5 December. And is a date when organisations in the sector unite to commemorate that solidarity is the heart of all people.  

Annual survey 

In Spain, 850,000 young people (between the ages of 14 and 35) volunteer, representing 30% of the total number of volunteers in Spain, according to the report La Acción Voluntaria en 2021, published annually by the Observatorio del Voluntariado, with the support of the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030.  

Important role for young people 

The study was conducted in the first half of 2021 with 2,800 surveys of a population over 14 years old. Furthermore, the results highlight the important role of young people. Moreover, 6.6% of the population spends time volunteering. Furthermore, that figure is almost 2% higher in the case of young people (8.3%).  

The profile of the volunteer in Spain is female (54%), between 25 and 44 years old (25%). Furthermore, they have a medium and university education (78%) and a medium economic level (93%). Moreover, the average age is lower than in 2020, when it was between 45-54 years.  

Decrease among over-65s due to pandemic 

The report also mentions a decrease in the percentage of people over 65 who volunteer, from 6.1% to 4.1%. This decrease is linked to the impact of the pandemic. And is due to the fact many of these people were forced to stop volunteering because they are at risk.  

Demand for hands 

The sectors with the highest demand for volunteering in 2021 are the same as in the previous year. Social volunteering tops the list (six in ten people volunteer) and there is an upward trend in both environmental volunteering (up from 4% to 8%) and animal welfare (up from 2.5% to 6%).  

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Solidarity actions  

Volunteers were put in the spotlight not only on 5 December but throughout the week. The organisation ASPACE – which works with people with brain injuries – launched the campaign Lo que me das, with the soundtrack of the song Eso que tú me das by Pau Donés, to thank more than 1,700 volunteers for their work in promoting the social inclusion of people with cerebral palsy.  

Volunteer organisation Cáritas launched a manifesto recognising and thanking the work of its more than 80,000 volunteers: Without their dedication, any society would be poorer and have fewer horizons.  

NGO DEBRA Piel de Mariposa is also calling for solidarity with the families suffering from the butterfly skin disease. ‘Volunteering is sharing, getting to know other realities, learning, growing, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and walking together,’ explains one volunteer. ‘You always end up full of happiness,’ adds a colleague.  

Pandemic has consequences 

The Red Cross has seen its number of volunteers double in the past year: the NGO currently has more than 250,000 volunteers. The situation is different at Manos Unidas: the coordinator of the volunteer department, Jaime Aguirre, regrets that the NGO lost 10% of its volunteers during the hardest months of the pandemic and although new volunteers have joined in the year 2021 (there are currently 6,344) who have made up for this loss, they make an appeal because they ‘need to be more’. 


Due to health constraints, 38% of companies and 35% of organisations will have fewer company volunteers by 2021. The pandemic also brought creativity and flexibility: in nine out of ten companies, physical presence was not needed in 2021. In both companies and organisations, mentoring or online training, awareness and fundraising campaigns, or remote counselling and leisure activities were common. Homeworking has also become common in companies, probably as a result of teleworking. 63% of companies have offered their employees activities with a social purpose, such as educational support, etc. 44% of companies have organised activities with an environmental impact for home use, such as waste collection, planting or recycling workshops.  

What will 2022 bring? 

According to the study, remote volunteering activities have proven to be very effective. Although 78% of companies and 69% of organisations plan to expand their face-to-face activities, it is predicted that by 2022 remote action will be integrated. 89% of social organisations and 83% of companies will opt for a combination of face-to-face and non-face activities. Over half of the companies want to maintain the number of social partners, 33% are looking for more social allies. 70% of companies and 78% of organisations plan to increase the number of beneficiaries. 

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