This paper is set in the context of macrosocial/macroeconomic theories of the organization of both paid and unpaid work. The specific topic investigated is engagement in unpaid voluntary work, an activity which is thought to be important for social cohesion, civil society and citizenship. Research on the sources of social cohesion has focused on organizational membership and voluntary organization activity. There has been little investigation of informal helping of non‐resident kin, friends or acquaintances, an activity which is not measured in most social surveys but is measured in time use surveys. Previous research shows that the highly educated are more likely to engage in formal voluntary organizations and data from the UK 2000 HETUS survey confirm that the highly educated spend more time on formally organised voluntary work. However, the less qualified, particularly women, spend more time on extra‐household unpaid helping activities. Since both types of voluntary work are partly dependent on available time, these findings are modelled adjusting for time allocated to paid work, study, family and personal care. The findings remain statistically significant. Drawing on work carried out by the Office for National Statistics, a monetary value is placed on both formally organized and informal voluntary work. Although the median wage rates for formal voluntary work are greater than those for informal helping, the latter is greater in frequency and duration and therefore more economically valuable from a population perspective. This finding is discussed in the light of recent debates on citizenship and gender.