What is the Value of a Volunteer?

Volunteer helping move furniture

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As of July 2020, the value of a volunteer is $27.20 per hour. That’s the official amount designated by the Independent Sector, the organization that has historically been the source most organizations look to for the value of a volunteer’s time.

That number is quantified using a wage replacement rate. The baseline average hourly wage for a private-sector employee is applied to the equivalent amount of volunteer time to produce the monetary value of each hour of volunteer service.

But volunteers are worth far more than just the time spent engaged in a task. Here are just a few of the other ways that volunteers contribute to your organization.

Volunteers can support staff and increase efficiency

With proper screening, recruiting and training, volunteers can support your paid staff and become a valuable part of your team. Skilled volunteers can even provide training and expertise in areas where you may be lacking. Some corporations, such as Deloitte, give incentives for employees to donate professional skills to local nonprofits to drive social impact and support their local communities.

Volunteers can donate their valuable professional skills.

Volunteers serve as influencers and champions in your community

Long-term, committed volunteers can be some of the best advocates for your cause and can become partners in community transformation. One of the best examples of an organization that is utilizing volunteers in this way is CASA. A volunteer commits to serve on behalf of a child who has experienced abuse or neglect, and becomes an advocate for that child in court. Many CASA advocates, like Larry Dolan, serve for years and impact the lives of numerous children. 

Volunteers help connect partners and build relationships

Because volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and have their spheres of influence, they can help you build relationships and connect with networks outside of your typical social circles. Volunteers can also help to grow your social media presence by sharing posts with their friends and promoting your organization through their channels.

Volunteers ultimately add value to your social connections through connected networks.

Volunteers frequently become donors and fundraisers

According to Fidelity Charitable, 87% of volunteers say there is an overlap between volunteering and financial support. People put their money where their heart is, and if a volunteer feels connected to your organization and included as a valuable part of the team, they are likely to be a financial contributor as well. In the same vein… volunteers who are passionate about your cause will invite their friends to join them and can be some of the best fundraisers for your organization.

Volunteers can bring in volunteer grants and matching gifts

Some corporations have matching grants or “Dollars for Doers” giving programs that donate to nonprofits when their employees give time volunteering. Here is a list of 51 companies that offer these programs to promote community engagement and social responsibility. Partnering with local businesses and corporations, and providing opportunities for volunteers to serve together with their co-workers is a great way to grow your volunteer base and increase donations.

Volunteers provide unique perspectives and valuable insights

One great advantage of engaging volunteers in your program is that they bring a wealth of backgrounds and perspectives with them. They also can evaluate your organization from an outside viewpoint, which will add significant value if you take the time to listen. Having volunteers share insights also cultivates innovation and may help you to consider a challenge from a perspective you had not previously considered. And according to Inc.com, they often come with a passion and energy that experts may lack.

Volunteers contribute to the greater good

According to a recent research study conducted by Sterling Volunteers, 81% of volunteers and 80% of organizations say they volunteer “because they want to make a positive impact in the community.” For the most part, people want to spend their time in meaningful activities that will contribute to the greater good. 

So as you evaluate the impact of your volunteer program, step back, and try to see it from a holistic perspective. Each volunteer adds their unique contribution, so can we really assign a fixed value to the gift of their time?

All in all, the value of a volunteer is best measured by the impact it has on the community around them. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

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