Independent Sector, in partnership with Do Good Institute, has just released the new national Value of Volunteer Time of $27.20 an hour.
As we know, volunteers are critical assets to civil society and all of our communities, especially in light of COVID-19. It's important for leadership to understand the impact your employee volunteers have on society and social issues, and one of the the many ways to do that is by calculating the value of their time.
What does this mean for corporate social responsibility practitioners?
You spend a lot of time tracking employee volunteer hours, either from company-sponsored programs or encouraging employees to record their individual engagement activities. Allocating a dollar value to those volunteer hours is a straightforward way to calculate your employee volunteering program’s in-kind contributions; it also showcases the company’s overall employee volunteer input. Calculating the economic value of your employee volunteering program can also assist you in your efforts to benchmark the outcomes of your company's employee volunteer efforts which allows you to measure future performance and the effects of any strategic changes you make to your program.
Additionally, a $ sign is something most people can relate to which is why an economic value can become a useful communication tool with the public and internal enterprise decision-makers. It provides you with evidence-based data for future marketing and communication efforts.
When using this measure, we would also advise that you take account of the other types of value that volunteering brings. Any publication of financial value should be put in the context of the societal value of the outputs of volunteering, and the inherent value of giving time freely by your employees. Here is an example that we like from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB):
"Based on evidence from almost 1,500 CAB volunteers, this report aims to tell the full story of the value of volunteering with the Citizens Advice service: for us as a service, for our volunteers, and our impact on communities and society as a result.
In 2012/13 we helped 2.1 million people to solve 6.6 million problems. To do so our 22,000 volunteers donated nearly 7 million hours to our service – that amounts to a contribution of £109 million worth of volunteering hours. Without this we would simply not be able to help as many people as we currently do.
But the value to society of CAB volunteering is even greater than this.
Our continual investment in our volunteers’ development ensures our clients receive quality advice and support. It also has tangible benefits for volunteers and society, through happier, healthier and more productive citizens." (CAB Volunteering - how everyone benefits, 2014)
Keep in mind:
- At Points of Light, we do recognize the debate that exists in the volunteer sector when it comes to assigning an economic value to volunteering. We are fully aware of the practical and philosophical issues with using this approach, as counting hours provides a partial picture of the values that volunteers contribute to communities. It is also important to keep in mind that, when referring to monetary expressions of value and explaining the costs and benefits of volunteering and volunteer programs in dollars, we are not disqualifying or rivaling other forms of valuation – qualitative or quantitative. The discussion paper put together by Volunteer Canada on the topic provides an insightful look into the practice of determining the economic value of volunteering.
- The $27.20 value of a volunteer hour is valid for the United States only.
- Generally, the $27.20 value of a volunteer hour can be applied to a wide range of traditional volunteer activities. For specialized, skilled pro bono services (especially if your company has a formalized pro bono program), we suggest looking into the valuation provided by the Taproot Foundation which announced that the average hourly value of pro bono service in 2019 is $195. Both forms of volunteering are critical to providing nonprofits with resources.
Learn more about the methodology behind Independent Sector's new Value of Volunteer Time, and get the updated figures for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.