This is the first South African study that analysed all three available waves of Statistics South Africa’s Volunteer Activities Survey data, which was linked to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey in the third quarter of the same year (2010, 2014 and 2018). The empirical findings showed that volunteers were predominantly female Africans without Matric, aged 25–34 years and resided in the urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo. In 2018 the labour force participation rate and unemployment rate of the volunteers were 62\% and 34\% respectively. These rates were both a bit higher than the corresponding rates of people who did not volunteer. The volunteers spent 20 h in the past four weeks on volunteering activities relating to service work and elementary occupations. More than 85\% of volunteers did not expect to receive anything back. For those who indicated otherwise, they most likely expected to receive out-of-pocket expenses and food.