The Value of Volunteers

 

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By George Rattin, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The Independent Sector recently announced on their website that the 2015 value of volunteer time increased 49 cents over the value of a volunteer hour in the year prior.  The study shows that the 2015 national value of a volunteer hour is $23.56  (Illinois avg. = $25.34 a 2.4% increase over 2014) the survey shows a steady growth in the value of a volunteer hour since 2001.  More than anything, I believe this study shows that volunteers do indeed bring real, measureable value to an organization.  Over my career, I have come to know organizations that use volunteers in different way.  Many treat volunteers as a “necessary evil” instead of a strategic resource.  The strategic organizations acknowledge that volunteers are a valuable resource and plan accordingly.  Here are three things your organization should do  to effectively use volunteers:

  1. Budget a staff member’s time to coordinate the work of volunteers.  Boards, Committees and Councils are comprised of volunteers.  The best of these groups actively work to advance the organization, but also have need for information, support, etc.  Make sure that someone has designated time in his or her work schedule to provide the support necessary.
  2. Create projects with anticipated needs and clear objectives defined for volunteers.  How will you use volunteers?  This is a critical and strategic decision.  Effective organizations make plans with clear objectives to utilize volunteers and anticipate their needs.  Is the plan for a committee to identify, five new Board member prospects in the next 90 days?  What are the interim steps?  What materials will Board members need?
  3. Take the time to celebrate victories – Remember, volunteers are not staff.  Take the time to celebrate the “wins” that volunteers allow your organization to experience.  This will reinforce with the volunteers how impactful their time is to your organization and will show your appreciation for their generous gifts of time and talent.

As the Independent Sector points out, volunteer time is a precious commodity that comes with a real and tangible value to your organization.  Be strategic when thinking about how your organization will  plan clearly, budget for the support necessary for their success  and make the time to calibrate the impact they have on advancing your organization.

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