Measuring the Cost and Value of Volunteers

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Volunteers are priceless, we know that, but we should not ignore the financial impact they have on services and that volunteering does not come for free. Funders are increasingly requiring a costed breakdown of volunteers value to proposed activities. This can be daunting, especially if volunteers are flexible, adaptable and change their hours and roles regularly. This article will help organisations to establish a value for their volunteers that can help you establish the real cost to your organisation.

Before you put in a bid

Talk to your funders. Increasingly funders are recognising the need to provide full cost recovery on all expenditure to support services, but it is still worth talking directly to them about their expectations of what they will fund when it comes to funding volunteering – after all, good volunteers management costs.

Direct Cost or Direct Value

It is important to look at both the direct cost of volunteering to an organisation, but also what added value volunteering brings. For example, we can work out a crude cost by ‘amount of volunteers x the number of hours x a wage’ and this would give us a very rough estimate of the monetary value of a volunteer. However, we can also use a variety of tools and methods to measure the added value and the impact volunteers have on our services.

By measuring the impact and added value of your volunteers you can asses where and how volunteers directly affect your organisation, communities, service users and stakeholders. This can be done by conducting an assessment of volunteering on volunteers themselves but also by assessing the impact that volunteers have on those they directly work with. This could be done by:

  • Service user and volunteer surveys.
  • Focus groups with volunteers and service users.

There are many good and varied toolkits available online including:

Working out the cost of a volunteer

There are several ways in which actual monetary cost of volunteering can be worked out. As well as the number of hours the cost of volunteer brings, there are also additional financial requirements that should be considered, which could include:

Type of Expenditure Cost details Amount
Volunteer Services Manager/Coordinator Annual salary including employer costs
Other Paid Staff (senior managers/Finance/Admin contribution) % of annual salary corresponding on managing or supporting volunteers
Advertising and recruitment Cost printing, producing and placing advertisement
Induction and training Materials, refreshments, childcare/expenses, additional staff time (external training)
Volunteers’ expenses Travel and out of pocket expenses reimbursed to volunteers
Administration, support and recognition Volunteer newsletters, meetings, socials, certificates, etc.
Supplies and equipment Protective clothing, badges, equipment (tools)
Food and accommodation Cost or refreshments and accommodation whilst the volunteer is volunteering
Volunteer Insurance % of the contribution to the appropriate insurance costs
Volunteer related building costs Where appropriate, rent and utility costs where buildings are maintained solely for volunteers use
Total Expenditure:

The above list is meant to be comprehensive list, we do not expect that you will need to account for all this expenditure, it is meant to give you an indicative list of types of expenditure.

Costing for Volunteer Hours

When it comes to working out the cost of volunteers, you could use the following equation:

A B C D E F
Total number of volunteers Average hours per week per volunteer Weeks worked per year A x B x C = Total volunteer hours Hourly wage rate (£) D x E = Total volunteer value (£)

More help?

If you would like more help or advice please contact Volunteer Edinburgh on 0131 225 0630 or email: hello@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk
Or you can drop in and see us:
Volunteer Edinburgh
222 Leith Walk, EH6 5EQ