How Much is Volunteer Time Worth?

The value of a volunteer hour rose again last year, up 49 cents to $23.56 an hour, continuing the steady upward trend that has been observed each year since volunteer time value was first recorded in 2001, according to Independent Sector (IS).

Calculating the value of volunteer time is a significant way to measure the impact that millions of volunteers have on nonprofits each year, according to IS, which released the figures during National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, 2016.

According to the most recent data on volunteering from the Corporation for National and Community Service, over 25% of the adult population, or about 62.8 million Americans, donated 7.9 billion hours of their time to volunteer service in 2014, worth an estimated $184 billion.

volunteer value

Volunteer values continue to rise

 

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit updates the national figure annually, while also including state-level breakdowns for the previous year. The values ranged from a low of $19.14 in the state of Arkansas to $38.77 per hour in the District of Columbia.

The top five among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., were:

  • Washington, D.C., $38.77
  • Massachusetts, $29.00
  • Washington, $28.99
  • California, $27.77
  • New York, $27.59

The bottom five states were:

  • Montana, $20.44
  • South Dakota, $20.29
  • New Mexico, $19.91
  • Mississippi, $19.51
  • Arkansas, $19.14

Nevada saw the biggest increase from 2014, up 5.9 percent from last year, moving up from the bottom 5 with $19.81 in 2014 to $20.98 in 2015. Only six states saw the value decline last year, and three of those states—Arkansas, Mississippi, and New Mexico—are at the very bottom of the list.

Independent Sector‘s interactive map displays data for each state, indicating where the value of a volunteer hour is highest and where it is lowest, as well as whether the figure has risen or fallen since the previous year.

state volunteer time value

Volunteer value by state (courtesy of Independent Sector)

 

The value of a volunteer hour has risen steadily each year since volunteer value first began being measured, from $16.27 in 2001, and passing the $20 mark in 2008 at $20.25.

The value of volunteer time is based on hourly earnings, approximated from yearly values, of all production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls average, based on yearly earnings provided by the BLS, for the national average.

IS indexes the figure to determine state values and increases it by 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits. Charities often use the value of volunteer time for recognition events or communications to show the amount of community support it receives from volunteers.

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