Volunteer value reached almost $32 per hour in 2022

August 17, 2023 | Grace Duginski
Volunteer value reached almost $32/hour in 2022

Candid has reported that new data from Independent Sector and the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute estimates the national value of a volunteer’s time in 2022 as $31.80 per hour. A more than 6% increase over the $29.95 per hour national estimate for 2021, this finding is a continuation of the steady two-decade-long trend of the growing value of a volunteer’s time. Here’s how—and why—nonprofits should use this information to fuel and manage their volunteer programs.

Why calculate the value of a volunteer hour?

First, why should an estimate like this matter to nonprofits? Independent Sector, which has been measuring the value of volunteer hours since 2001, explained why they crunch this number:

We know putting numbers to volunteer hours will never do them justice, but it is just one way for us to show the contributions individuals and organizations have made in our communities. The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations frequently use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.

Independent Sector

The methodology behind Independent Sector’s estimate is “based on the annual average hourly earnings (non-seasonally adjusted) for all production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls. These annual earnings estimates come from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) database, which is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.)” For 2022, Independent Sector updated their methodology to include a 15.4% increase for the value of fringe benefits instead of the usual 12% increase assigned to CES data to account for the value of fringe benefits.

In 2001, Independent Sector calculated the value of a volunteer hour at $16.27. From 2001 to 2018, the increases each year were small but steady, ranging from 1.6 to 4%. However, since 2018, the value of volunteer labor has grown more substantially each year: 7% in 2019, 4.9% in both 2020 and 2021, and 6.2% in 2022.

Every volunteer coordinator knows how immensely valuable each and every supporter is when it comes to moving the mission forward. With data like this to back it up, you can make sure your organization is using your staff, time, and technology resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Next step: whether they’re a donor, a volunteer, or an advocate, you know how valuable your supporters are—make sure they know it too! Expressing your gratitude can take shape in a lot of ways: experiment with the mix of channels you use to contact them, like adding mobile messaging or a video message to your email outreach. With their responses recorded in your constituent relationship management (CRM) platform, you can let their preferences lead you.

Where was a volunteer hour most valuable?

Topping the list at $50 an hour, Candid reported that during the year 2022, a volunteer’s time was most valuable in the District of Columbia. The locations with the next highest volunteer value-per-hour estimates were five coastal states:

• Massachusetts, at $39.19 (up from $36.38 in 2021)
• Washington, at $37.63 (up from $34.87 in 2021)
• California, at $37.32 (up from $35.56 in 2021)
• New York, at $35.71 (up from $34.59 in 2021), and
• Connecticut, at $34.56 (up from $33.35 in 2021).

Knowing the value of one single volunteer hour is only the first step—if you’re managing a nonprofit volunteer program, one of your most important goals is making sure your volunteers keep donating their time week after week. The key to retaining volunteers is giving them a smooth experience, complete with the right volunteer training, post-event follow-up, and ongoing engagement. This means investing in a thoughtful volunteer management plan and the right technology to support putting that plan into action, as well as creating opportunities to build relationships and keep them tuned in all year round—not just when you have a major event.

Additionally, a volunteer’s value doesn’t stop after their shift ends—that’s just the beginning. Our Mobilize network has found that a volunteer is twice as likely to donate to an organization as a non-volunteer. If you aren’t stewarding your volunteers to become donors, you could be leaving money on the table! Volunteers may be interested in donating at many different moments in their relationship with you. If they can’t make it to a shift, they may be happy to make a gift instead and support you in a different way; if they’re invested in your mission and want to take on an active fundraising role, they might be a good fit for running their own distributed fundraising event on your behalf.

Next step: the easiest volunteer to schedule is one you already have. One way paid staff and volunteer leaders can use technology to boost volunteer retention is through the new Mobilize and MiniVAN integration—after a volunteer finishes their walk packet (the list of doors they’re knocking when out canvassing) in MiniVAN, they’re served with a lightbox from Mobilize inviting them to sign up for more volunteer opportunities right then and there!

Our take

Metrics like the value of a volunteer hour are useful for nonprofits because staff across programs know that what gets measured gets moved. Whether your focus is a fundraising initiative, a digital campaign, or a volunteer program, it’s important to know what to measure and how to capture that information in your platform in order to understand how well your work helps you move your mission forward. Talk to us to learn more.

This blog was originally published in April 2022 and has been updated with new information.