How to Calculate the Value of Volunteer Time

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE Tips

Some things in life are hard to put a value on — love, passion, dedication, selflessness. These are all attributes volunteers embody, but how can nonprofits determine the value of a volunteer hour?

Each year, Independent Sector gathers data and conducts research on volunteerism in the nonprofit sector. The results of that research provide nonprofits a way to calculate the value of volunteer time. As of April 2022, their estimated national value of each volunteer hour is currently $29.95, up $1.41 since last year.

The hourly value of volunteer time

Why does knowing the value of volunteer time matter?

Understanding the value of volunteers to nonprofit organizations is important because it helps leaders and organizations make a case for volunteer programs, appropriately budget and understand the financial value of what is often perceived as “free” labor.

Additionally, volunteer work varies widely across organizations and functional areas. Some volunteers provide the lowest skilled work while others require extensive training. Recently, my teenage daughter waved a sign outside a food distribution event. Conversely, my nephew is a doctor and volunteers regularly by providing medical support. Is there a difference in the value of volunteer time if a nonprofit had to pay for it? Certainly. Independent Sector does extensive research to factor in those variations, and their estimated national value is a figure your organization can use with confidence when determining the value of volunteer time. 

“Volunteers in the United States are 63 million strong and hold up the foundation of civil society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they are contributing in invaluable ways.”

— Independent Sector

Volunteer work strengthens nonprofit organizations and our communities. Volunteers change lives, and this volunteer hour calculator will help you show the strong business case for volunteers within your organization.

READ NEXT: 5 Creative Ways to Recognize Volunteers

Get Your Certificate in Volunteer Management

The Certificate in Volunteer Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Center prepares nonprofit leaders and volunteer managers to better recruit, retain and reward their volunteers in light of today’s challenges and ever-changing environment. The curriculum is designed by Hands On Network and facilitated by NLC Trainer Sara Leonard, MBA, CFREThrough three interactive, high-energy virtual workshops, you’ll learn comprehensive strategies and techniques to use immediately at your organization in the following areas:

  • Understanding volunteering: Current trends and motivations
  • Planning your volunteer program
  • Recruiting and placing volunteers
  • Orienting and training volunteers
  • Supervising volunteers
  • Evaluating your volunteer program

Upon completion of this program, you will receive the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management Certificate. Attendance at all three sessions, completion of assignments and passing module tests are required to earn the certificate.

Sara Leonard, MBA, CFRE, is a solutions-oriented advancement professional with more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit development and administration. Her company, the Sara Leonard Group, provides consulting, coaching and training to fundraisers, CEOs and nonprofit board members. Prior to launching her consultancy in 2015, Sara worked in the nonprofit sector raising funds for health care, educational and cultural organizations. She is also a former employee of the Nonprofit Leadership Center and continues to facilitate classes in fund development for NLC. Sara is widely considered an expert in crisis fundraising and has guided organizations through capital campaigns, both large and small. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa and an MBA from the University of South Florida. She’s a Certified Fundraising Executive and has been named as a Master Trainer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Sara serves on the board of directors of the Suncoast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and New Tampa Young Life. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two children.

Want to be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally.