In the second quarter (Q2) of 2010, 1.2 million persons aged 15 years and older participated in volunteer activities.
This is according to Pretoria-based Statistics SA's first Volunteer Activities Survey released on Tuesday.
The survey found that 64.2 percent of volunteers were women and 35.7 percent were men.
About 439 000 individuals volunteered through organisations; while about 642 000 persons volunteered individually.
Over 89 percent of volunteers were involved in only one volunteer activity.
Statistics SA said the main aim of the survey was to provide information on the scale of volunteer work and bring into view the sizeable part of the actual labour force that was invisible in existing labour statistics.
One of the specific objectives of the survey was to estimate the economic value of volunteer work.
The survey found that the rate of volunteering was higher among women than among men in all age groups except among those aged 65 years and older during the reference period.
"The volunteer rate increased with age up to the age of 45-54 years after which it declined," Statistics SA said.
It added that the black African and Indian/Asian populations had volunteer rates lower than the national average while the white and coloured populations had volunteer rates higher than the national average of 3,5 percent.
Individuals who were married or those who were living together such as husband and wife were more likely to volunteer than those who were never married.
"Persons with higher levels of education engaged in volunteer activities at higher rates than those with lower levels of education," Statistics SA added.
Women contributed 256 million hours and an average of 6.4 hours per week to volunteer activities.
"These could have amounted to R4.4 billion had the hours spent on volunteer work been remunerated."
On the other hand men contributed 123 million hours with an average of 5.6 hours per week of volunteer activities, which could have amounted to R3.1 billion had the hours spent on volunteer activities been compensated.
Statistics SA said people who were employed and also did some volunteer activities contributed 145 million hours to volunteer work which was valued at R3.1 billion (41,9 percent of total value of volunteer work), had they been rewarded for the volunteer work they did.
Of the 550 000 individuals who offered their volunteer services through organisations (including those who offered volunteer services both directly and through organisations), the majority (520,000) volunteered in the services industry.
They offered 211 million hours of their time which was valued at R4.6 billion.