V.T. readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.

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~ February 2002 Topics ~
  • New Hourly Value of Volunteer Time
  • Tax Deductions for Volunteers
  • Volunteers as Recruiters
  • Volunteer of the Month Awards
  • Speaking to Senior Citizens

Dear Connie:
What is considered the pay rate per hour for volunteers if they were to be paid? Thanks!
Susan B.


Dear Susan:
At the end of January, there was a multi-thread discussion on the CyberVPM listserv about this very question! The latest information on the value of volunteer time is from Independent Sector For 2000 (the most recent rate), it is $15.39 per hour. Remember, this isn't an hourly pay rate for volunteers. It is the "value of volunteer time. The figure is calculated by taking the average hourly wage for nonagricultural workers in 2000 as published in the Economic Report of the President (2001 Edition) and increasing it by 12% to estimate fringe benefits. According to consultant and author Steve McCurley, you don't have to wait for IS to update its figure every year. If you want to see the Bureau of Labor Statistics average hourly wage figures on a much more current basis, visit and look at the row for "average hourly wage." You can even regionalize it by following the link at "average hourly wage." Add to that rate a percentage increase for benefits (you could even use the percentage that your organization uses) and you have the current figure.

Dear Connie:
How can a volunteer get tax deductions for their volunteer hours? Is it by mileage/year or by hours served? Must we assign a value to their hours worked? If so, is there a formula to do this?

Sarah P.


Dear Sarah:
First, if your volunteers have specific tax questions I recommend that they talk to a tax expert (their accountant, tax return preparer, or even the IRS) and that you not try to give them tax advice. It's tricky at best and everyone situation is a little different. My understanding, and I'm not tax expert, is that volunteers can deduct only out of pocket expenses incurred when volunteering for a nonprofit organization (mileage, parking, tolls, photocopies, offices supplies for the organization, uniforms, etc.). In other words, deductions do not apply to the hours that volunteers contribute, but only to money given or spent in connection with the volunteer service.

Dear Connie:
I work with Girl Scouts. It is difficult to recruit adults to be leaders. Can you tell me innovative ways or locations to recruit? I have to get 77 adults by March 31. Please help!



Dear Debra:
What about utilizing your current corps of volunteers as recruiters? If possible convene them as a group and challenge them to each bring in one new volunteer leader. Give them information packets, tell them what/who you're looking for, what volunteer jobs need to be filled, etc. In other words, arm them with the information they need to do the recruiting and turn it into a project. You can create your own team of recruiters! Good luck!

Dear Connie:
I'm trying to start a volunteer of the month program in our organization. Do you have any ideas for criteria for picking a volunteer of the month?

Bridget Z.


Dear Bridget:
I believe that it works well ONLY when there is quantifiable, objective criteria - such as number of hours worked, number of tickets sold, $$ raised, etc. (This assumes that there is a system in place at your organization to track such things accurately.) The risk of recognizing only one individual monthly is that it sets up artificial competition that's contrary to the purpose of recognition (to recognize ALL volunteers for the time and talents they contribute). Competition can also easily lead to volunteers forgetting about how important it is to accomplish an organization's mission and focusing instead on the numbers required to receive the monthly "award." I know many organizations have monthly or annual awards, but I personally vote for recognizing volunteer's leaders and all volunteers in appropriate ways.

Dear Connie:
I'm employed at a church and work with many volunteers. I've been asked to give a 45-minute talk at a nursing home for a conference targeting seniors on volunteerism. My talk will be on addressing the fact that we are never too old to volunteer and, in fact, as Christian (which all of these folks will be) we are called to serve. I would like to open my talk with some general comments and perhaps some statistics on volunteerism such as why people volunteer, why people don't volunteer, why volunteer is so important, etc. Do you know where I can access this information? And, if you were me, and you were speaking to a group of senior citizens trying to motivate them to volunteer, on what would you focus?


Dear Kris:
First, check out two web sites for statistics:

  • First, visit Independent Sector at, where you'll find plenty of statistics. They even have a booklet on senior citizens as volunteers that you can order.
  • Second, visit the AARP web site at I'm sure there will be some information there that you can weave into your presentation.

I would focus on WIIFM (what's in it for me?) - a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available for any interest, gain new skills, meet new friends, have fun, make a difference in the community, helping others helps you, etc. Most people, of any age, are motivated by not only the difference they can make but also the difference it will make for them.

Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at

Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
2939 Van Ness NW Street, Suite 1248 Washington, DC 20008
VOICE: 202-966-0859 FAX: 202-966-3301

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.

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