Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Value of Volunteers

The NonProfit Times just released an article with the headline "Volunteers Worth 3.3 Times Minimum Wage." Given that federal minimum wage is $5.85 an hour - that means that each volunteer hour is worth $19.51 to your organization.

[photo credit: Coed]

Your volunteers are much more than an auxiliary workforce. They're the front lines of your organization in the community. They represent your organization as they move through their social circles, and they are the ones who carry your organization's message farther than your marketing efforts ever could.

Most organizations value their volunteers tremendously - but few assign a dollar value to their worth. If your organization were to do so, what would your volunteers add to your bottom line? If the number is significant (maybe more than a staff person's annual salary), it might be time to make sure you're getting enough bang for your buck.

When was the last time you examined your organization's volunteer program? Could you, without hesitating, draw a map of a volunteer's experience with your organization from the moment they transition into your volunteer program, to the moment they transition out?

Given the amount of money at stake, it might well be worth your time.


Tutor Mentor Connections said...

I think the Independent Sector shows the 2008 value of volunteer time at a little over $21 per hour.

I have more than 100 volunteers working with my organization, as tutors, mentors, coordinators, fund raisiers, etc. We would not be able to achieve our mission without such help. However, I also have higer level volunteers working on technology-based projects. Some of these volunteers are based in other cities, and we only work via the Internet. In one case a volunteer has donated more than $25,000 in pro bono service in building an on-line documentation system to track actions and accomplishments. In this case, the volunteer is in Baltimore and the work is being done by his company in India.

Thus, organizations that integrate the talent, and time, of volunteers into their missions, can accomplish much more than without the contributions of these wonderful people.

Leyla Farah said...

Thank you for your comments Tutor Mentor - all excellent points.

When volunteers bring specific skills to an organization, they're definitely worth more to the organization's bottom line and should be valued accordingly.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

I host a conference in May and November intended to draw tutor/mentor programs together to help them learn best practices from each other. These are also intended to create public awareness that draws more volunteers to all programs. The next is May 29 and 30 and info can be found at

I hope you'll write about this during the month and help us draw more people to these events, or to on-line learning via blogs like yours.