Hidden diamonds: Uncovering the true value of sport volunteers

Hidden Diamonds is the ground-breaking research into the hidden value of sport volunteers, going beyond cost to measure the true value they create – through participation, wellbeing, trust and community.

Going beyond traditional valuation methods, which use the cost-replacement model, the research investigated the true value of sports volunteering to personal wellbeing and happiness of the volunteers themselves, plus the wider benefit to their communities. 

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The starting belief is that volunteers shouldn’t just be seen as a cost-savings, but also as investors – people who invest their time, skills and energy both for their own benefit and for that of the wider community.

Below reveals a bit of this hidden value.

Volunteering in sport makes you happier

The wellbeing benefits of playing sport are well recognised and what this research adds to those individual benefits is the wellbeing experienced by people who volunteer in sport. For example, the research found that volunteering in sport, compared to those who have never volunteer in sport are 18% more likely to feel proud of themselves and 10% more likely to have higher self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and resilience.

Volunteering in sport gets the nation active

In addition to volunteering in sport making you happier, it also helps to get the nation active. The research found that one volunteer creates the capacity for at least 8.5 more people to play¹. As a society we know that sport and recreation can help address many of our most urgent needs – so being a volunteer in sport is one way to get active yourself, plus helping to get your local community more active at the same time.

Volunteering boosts communities

It’s also clear that sport volunteers act as a catalyst for improving local communities. The research also showed that, compared to people who don’t volunteer, a volunteer in sport is significantly more likely to feel good about their community. Specifically, they feel that:

  • being part of their community is important
  • they have influence over what their community is like
  • their needs are met by their community, and
  • they put a lot of time and effort into being part of their community
  • trust others in their community.

Activity, wellbeing, trust and community

The Hidden Diamonds research shows that volunteers in sport invest their time in themselves and their communities. The return on that investment are immense benefits to the wellbeing of the UK.

Sport volunteers held build communities, build skills and improved wellbeing, plus help to get the nation more active.

¹ – Active People Survey from Sport England 2014 (and consistent with the Sport and Recreation Alliance report 2013 which describes 151,000 clubs in the UK with an average of 24 volunteers per club, which is approximately 3.6m volunteers.)