Volunteers: How Much Is Your Time Worth?

According to Independent Sector, an hour of volunteer time was worth $22.14 in 2012. Harder to quantify is the reason people decide to volunteer.

Just in time for National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, Independent Sector released its 2012 estimate of the value of volunteer time.

Volunteers continue to be vitally important to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in this country.

Last year saw a 35-cent increase to $22.14 an hour compared to 2011. The estimate is based on yearly earnings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for all non-management, non-agricultural workers.

Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate-giving programs, also estimated the value of volunteer time by state in 2011. Washington, DC, ranked highest at $34.04, followed by New York ($28.73), Connecticut ($28.26), and Massachusetts ($27.43).

“Volunteers continue to be vitally important to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in this country,” Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, said in a statement. “The value of volunteer time is a reminder of the immense contributions of volunteers to our organizations and our communities.”

The dollar estimation of volunteer time is only one way to capture the value of volunteer time, Independent Sector acknowledged. And it’s a difficult concept to monetize because of the myriad ways volunteers contribute that are not always quantifiable.

Also hard to calculate is why people decide to volunteer.

In a 2008 survey of more than 26,000 individuals, ASAE’s The Decision to Volunteer found that “values drive volunteer choices.” This is also true for association volunteers, who are interested in volunteering “for reasons bigger than themselves, especially to build a stronger profession,” according to the study.

Other significant findings from The Decision to Volunteer:

  • The best way to keep volunteers coming back was to provide them with a meaningful experience in which they feel effective in what they are doing for the organization.
  • The most influential recruitment method was the direct ask, so organizations should approach potential volunteers directly.
  • The number-one reason people gave for not volunteering was a lack of information about possible volunteer options, so communication about opportunities is critical.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!