The Value of Volunteers: Are You Missing Out?

It’s no secret that volunteers are valuable assets to nonprofits and community organizations, especially at a time when economic challenges make it difficult for agencies to meet their staffing needs.  But just how valuable are volunteers?  According to the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Service, a single hour of volunteer service is currently worth $21.79.  In 2010, 62.7 million U.S.residents volunteered a total of 8.1 billion hours, which was worth $173 billion.

Who are these generous folks, where are they volunteering, and what activities are they doing? Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981) are the fastest growing age group of volunteers in America.  Between 2009 and 2010, their service increased by 110 million hours.  Religious organizations ranked highest among volunteerism sites at 35%, followed by educational institutions (26.7%) and social service agencies (14%).  Fundraising was the most common activity performed, followed by collecting/distributing food, general labor, and tutoring/teaching, respectively.

All of this data suggests that if your agency is not currently utilizing volunteers, you could be missing the boat – in a big way.  Not only are volunteers invaluable in terms of the services they provide, but being able to demonstrate the monetary value of volunteers goes a long way in helping your organization leverage funding.  While some organizations are more volunteer-oriented by nature, nearly all agencies can benefit from the time and talent of volunteers.  If you’d like to establish a volunteer program in your agency, start by gathering together your key employees and board members to discuss how volunteers could be beneficial.  Below are some helpful questions to ask each other (and don’t forget to write down the answers):

  • What things do we as an organization want and need to do that we aren’t currently doing?
  • What specific goals would we like to achieve, but don’t have adequate manpower and/or time to achieve them?
  • What things are staff members currently doing that they are not excited about and/or that take their time away from more critical tasks?

The answers to these questions will help guide your organization’s specific need for volunteers, or help to revamp the utilization of current volunteers.  From there, it’s a matter of organizing and advertising.  In short, if you build a dynamic volunteer program, they will come – and your agency will be a more successful, effective and visible part of your community.  Who doesn’t want that?

If you’re interested in establishing a volunteer program in your agency, contact CDP today!


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