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Value of the Volunteer?


2 May 2005 at 1:05 pm
Staff Reporter
The US Not for Profit umbrella organisation, INDEPENDENT SECTOR has revealed the 2004 estimates for the value of volunteers.

Staff Reporter | 2 May 2005 at 1:05 pm


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Value of the Volunteer?
2 May 2005 at 1:05 pm

The US Not for Profit umbrella organisation, INDEPENDENT SECTOR has revealed that the 2004 estimate for the value of a volunteer hour has reached $US17.55 per hour- that’s $22.91 in Australian dollars.

INDEPENDENT SECTOR says this is a tool that can be used to help organisations quantify the enormous value volunteers provide. This year’s estimate increased from $17.19 per hour in 2003. ($AUS)

INDEPENDENT SECTOR estimates in 2004 the total value of hours volunteered in the US was equivalent to approximately $US272 billion of contributed service, assuming the total number of volunteer hours held constant from previous years.

Diana Aviv, president and CEO of INDEPENDENT SECTOR says no number can adequately capture the true value volunteers bring to so many causes and communities across this country. Nevertheless, this yearly estimate helps to focus on the enormous contribution of the volunteer corps.

The hourly value of volunteer time is based on the average hourly wage for all non-management, non-agriculture workers as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a 12 percent increase to estimate for fringe benefits.

The US organisation began calculating the value of volunteering 25 years ago.
Here’s a breakdown of the statistics and the Australian equivalent. (The valuations do not take into account the changing value of the Australian dollar against the greenback!)

DATE US $ AUSTRALIAN $
1980 $7.46 per hour $9.73
1990 $11.41 per hour $14,89
2000 $15.68 per hour $20.47
2003 $17.19 per hour $22.44
2004 $17.55 per hour $22.91

The value of volunteer time is based on the average hourly earnings of all production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls (as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics). INDEPENDENT SECTOR takes this figure and increases it by 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits.

Charitable organizations most frequently use the value of volunteer time for recognition events or communications to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers.

The value of volunteer services can also be used on financial statements – including statements for internal and external purposes, grant proposals, and annual reports – only if a volunteer is performing a specialized skill for a Not for Profit.

The general rule is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated.

Volunteers provide many intangibles that can not be easily quantified. For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time, and provide support on a wide range of projects.

The value of volunteer time presented here is the average wage of non-management, non-agricultural workers. This is only a tool and only one way to show the immense value volunteers provide to an organisation.

INDEPENDENT SECTOR says it is important to remember that when a doctor, lawyer, craftsman, or anyone with a specialised skill volunteers, the value of his or her work is based on his or her volunteer work, not his or her earning power. In other words, volunteers must be performing their special skill as volunteer work. If a doctor is painting a fence or a lawyer is sorting groceries, he or she not performing his or her specialised skill for the NFP, and their volunteer hour value would not be higher.

INDEPENDENT SECTOR is a Not for Profit, non-partisan coalition of approximately 500 US organizations, foundations, and corporate philanthropy programs, collectively representing tens of thousands of charitable groups across the US.



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