How Much Are Volunteers Worth?

According to the annual study by Independent Sector, the value of Volunteer Time is $24.69 per hour, up 2.2% from last year.

What?

This rate, as indicated in the report, “shows the incredible contributions volunteers make to our communities and our country.” And with an estimated 63 million Americans volunteering for 8 billion hours, the report estimates just under $200 million in anual value to our nation’s charitable health.

How about this next statement from the study: “We know putting numbers to volunteer hours will never do them justice.” How true! Just think of the roles at our nonprofits, churches, and schools that are filled by volunteers: boards, committees, task forces, Parent-Teacher groups, D.C. Trip chaperones, gala leaders, Sunday School leaders, pro bono business donors, mission trippers, small groups that plant flowers, etc. The list is very long. Just think if we had to pay someone for these activities…

...But have you thought about why they give of their time? A year ago I wrote on the Paradox of Generosity and how studies confirm that those who are generous, including giving of their time (as in, Time, Talent, Treasure) trend toward living longer, happier lives. Indeed, as Aesop indicated with the Lion and the Mouse, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

However, most schools, churches, and nonprofits will tell you this: it is getting harder and harder to find volunteers. Any idea why this is? Perhaps Americans are too busy; or more and more families are dual-earners; or maybe there are too many opportunities/too many nonprofits for the available pool of people willing to help. Arguments can be made both for and against these statements.

Perhaps how we treat those willing to give of their time is the culprit. Do you give volunteers the opportunity to be part of the solution, or simply assign them tasks regardless of their interests? Do you keep volunteers around instead of investing in technology that could eliminate the need for rote/boring tasks? Have you ever sincerely thanked your volunteers for their time, or do treat them as a bother? If there are indeed lots of opportunities, then what will keep your volunteers around for you?

Its probably going to be your mission that gets them in the door, but how you treat them as human beings will keep them coming back (and I have to say it… happy volunteers become happy donors!)

If you have volunteered in the past, think about those organizations that you have positive memories of; how did they treat you? Would you volunteer for them again?

Picture Credit: Pixabay.com