The value of a volunteer hour continues to rise, up to $24.69 in 2017. The figure is a 2.3-percent increase from 2016 and is part of an overall 51.8-percent increase in the value of volunteer hours since 2001, according to data from Independent Sector. The value of volunteer hours has grown every year during that span.
If Americans were to repeat 2015’s volunteerism of 7.8 billion hours, the most recent Corporation for National & Community Service data available, the 2017 value of volunteerism in the U.S. would have exceeded $192 billion.
The figure is based on approximate hourly earnings of all production and nonsupervisory workers in private, non-farm payrolls. The average is further upped by 12 percent to include a buffer for fringe benefits. Matt Perdoni, counsel and director of business development for Independent Sector, said that — while not necessarily a driver of recent value increases — pro-bono services from lawyers, communications specialists, and other professionals have become increasingly common.
In areas in which the value of a volunteer hour is greatest, such as the District of Columbia at $39.45 per hour, the value of a volunteer might rival that of a cash donation. The D.C. Bar has been one professional association particularly good at securing pro-bono hours from members. In such locales the value of pro-bono legal services or tax assistance might represent greater value than the organization might otherwise get paying out of pocket.
“In terms of bang for the buck, if it was just cash those folks wouldn’t be at the table most likely,” Perdoni said.
State-by-state figures in the report show that volunteer hours are most valuable in Washington, D.C. ($39.45), Massachusetts ($31.17), Washington state ($30.46), Connecticut ($30.24), and New York ($29.19). Rates are most modest in Kentucky ($21.17), West Virginia ($21.10), New Mexico ($20.58), Arkansas ($20.01), and Mississippi ($19.81).
Women (27.8 percent) are more likely to volunteer than men (21.8 percent), according to 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics demographic data, and Caucasians (26.4 percent) are more likely to volunteer than African Americans (19.3 percent), Asian Americans (17.9 percent), and Latino Americans (15.5 percent). Employed individuals (27 percent) are more likely to volunteer than those who are unemployed (23.3 percent) or outside the labor force (21.4 percent) and the rate of volunteering increases with education. The holder of a bachelor’s degree (38.8 percent) is more likely to volunteer than a person with some college experience or an associate degree (26.5 percent), a high school diploma (15.6 percent), or no high school diploma (8.1 percent).
Kristina Gawrgy Campbell, director of strategic communications and public relations for Independent Sector, said that organizations typically utilize volunteer-value figures to articulate contributions to mission. Corporations might use the information similarly to show the impact staff make in local communities.
“People traffic our website for grant proposals, annual reports . . . It’s when people are trying to articulate the value of their volunteers,” she said.
Volunteer Driver Loves Life on the Road
Clint Baker, 2018 Community Service Awards Honoree
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A few of our 2018 Community Service Award honorees have something in common.
They're spending their retirement years staying active...by giving back.
That includes a volunteer who likes being in the driver's seat no matter how long the journey.
"I've loved to drive since I was a kid sitting on my granddaddy's lap steering the Model T. I couldn't wait until I got me a car and get me on down the road," says Clint Baker, CSA Honoree.
Baker loves to drive so much, he made it his career.
"I've been a traveling salesman all my life. I love to drive," he continues.
And now, at 82-years-old, he criss-crosses Arkansas in service to the state. As a volunteer for the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), he travels some 50-thousand miles a year, transporting children and families in the foster care system.
"What I enjoy doing is what I think they need the most," Baker says. "The perfect job for me. I love to drive, I love kids. I've been doing this since 2006 and I haven't regretted a moment of it."
What Baker does regret is the fact that kids have to make the long haul in the first place.
"I don't understand how come we don't have more foster parents and I don't understand why we don't have more therapeutic homes," he says. "It's a shame when you have one boy out of the family that's down there and I have to drive all the way to Fayetteville for a 1-hour visit. That's a lot of traveling for a child."
One of Baker's regular routes is from Helena in the southeast corner, to Fayetteville in the northwest corner, and back...in one day.
But it's on those long stretches of road where the kids have come to trust him and appreciate his company.
"I have met some really, really good kids and I have met some great parents in doing this over the years," says Baker. "I don't know any other way to put it other than I just like what I do, you know. It's easy for me to get up in the morning because I have a purpose. When I jump in this car and I crank that motor on and I've got something to do.
That something means everything to his passengers.
One of Baker's big wishes is that more families across the state would open their doors to high-needs foster children so that siblings don't have to travel so far, just to see each other.