Humanists in the community: new study to measure contributions of non-religious

15 February, 2024

A new study conducted by the University of Warwick seeks to uncover how much the non-religious contribute to society. This study examines the extent to which non-religious forms of identity, including humanists, are related to ‘trust, wellbeing, and involvement in the community.’

Humanists UK, a charity dedicated to promoting happy, ethical lives and advancing freedom of choice, thought, and expression, has over 1,000 active volunteers who contribute significantly to local communities across the country. The survey takes around 15-20 minutes to complete, will ask questions about worldviews, wellbeing, belonging, trust, and engagement with voluntary activities – to garner information about the ‘social capital’ of the non-religious. 

The study is being conducted by Dr Steven Kettell (University of Warwick), Dr Siobhan McAndrew (University of Sheffield) and Professor David Voas (University College, London). It is an independent study and is not being funded by any external organisation, agency, or individuals.

To date, the contribution of the non-religious to society has been vastly overlooked in favour of platforming the contribution of the religious, partly because the non-religious often do not volunteer in the name of being non-religious (e.g. for secular organisations). Also because many non-religious people work for and volunteer their time with charities and organisations with a religious basis which adds to the myth that the non-religious do less community work. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic Humanists UK mobilised its members, supporters, volunteers, and local groups and urged them to volunteer with Covid-19 mutual aid groups and/or the NHS, including to donate food and hygiene products to those in need. One third of Humanists UK’s members reported in Humanists UK’s own survey that they had volunteered formally or informally at the height of the crisis.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick commented:

‘We welcome a new study into the contribution of the non-religious. We know that the non-religious donate and volunteer just as much as religious people, but all too often this contribution remains invisible. We look forward to seeing the new evidence collected by this study.’

humanists in the community
From our pastoral care work in prisons and hospices, to our volunteers that work to create dialogue between the religious and non-religious, read more about the humanists working to help their local community.
Take the survey
Take the University of Warwick survey and help highlight the contributions humanists makes to their local community.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at or phone 020 3675 0959.

Read more about the study

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.