| RECRUITING & RETENTION
~ September 2006 ~ TopicsVolunteer Satisfaction
$ Value for Volunteers
It is the rare volunteer who tells why he/she is leaving the organization. Having satisfied volunteers can lead to retention. So understanding what keeps them is important. Here are some questions, whose answers help the manager of volunteers understand what is working and what is not in the volunteer corps.
Form a small Volunteer Satisfaction team
of volunteers and one paid staff besides the manager of volunteers.
Charge the group with the responsibility of surveying volunteers. Work
with the team to design the method that will bring the most responses.
Interviews using the above questions might give you a start.
Find someone to tabulate and put the information
into a database. The information collected should be examined and analyzed
by the team. Have them make a short written report of findings. Act
on suggestions to enhance the satisfaction climate for volunteers.
$ Value for Volunteers
Managers of volunteer programs are urged to log hours
for volunteers and calculate the donation of time in terms of hours
worked times a wage rate. The rub occurs when deciding what wage
rate to use. What system most accurately reflects the monetary
contribution of volunteer time? The qualitative contribution of volunteers
can also be calculated and will be discussed in the next issue of Volunteer
There are three methods for calculating the monetary value of a volunteer. Here is a brief explanation of each method.
The easiest and most often used method is to assign
a dollar amount to hours donated. This is most often done by using the
average wage paid to all workers (usually excluding agricultural workers).
The organization can use national statistics, state or province, city
or county. In the United States and Canada, a governmental entity provides
information on average wage and that is then multiplied by the number
of hours. For example, in 2004 the average wage in the US was $19.94.
That number would be multiplied by the number of hours served by a volunteer.
While this is a simple and straightforward system,
it has some flaws. The biggest weakness is that it does not distinguish
between work performed, and skills needed. It can grossly underestimate
or overestimate the value of volunteer time, if the organization had
to pay for the service.
This method differs from the Average Wage
system by taking into account what the volunteer does. The Financial
Accounting Standards Board also endorses it.
With replacement wage, the dollar value of volunteer
service is calculated by determining what it would cost the organization
to have a paid staff person doing the same task. For example, in the
US the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the mean hourly wage of
a school tutor around $20.91 per hour.
This system can more accurately reflect the time/dollar
amount, but it requires much research, especially in large volunteer
programs. And it must be up-dated on a regular basis. It also assumes
that the organization would have hired someone had the volunteer not
been present. That is often an incorrect assumption.
In this method of assessing the value of volunteer
time, it is the volunteers occupation that drives the determination
of value. The actual wage rate in paid employment for the volunteer
is multiplied times the number of hours to determine the value. Hence,
if a firefighter volunteers to tutor in a local school, his/her wage
rate would be multiplied by the number of hours served. Likewise a retiree
living on a fixed income, and serving as a tutor, would have their average
hourly wage multiplied by the hours served.
The rationale behind this method is that every hour
the person donates is worth something and every hour served is an hours
worth of income. It works exceedingly well where highly skilled volunteers
are needed for the work.
It is more difficult to use this method when the jobs
are of a more general naturetutoring, working at a soup kitchen,
or walking dogs at a shelter.
A good manager, whether of volunteers or paid staff, has questions that should be asked daily. The answer to those questions provides information from volunteers and paid staff that can result in improvements and chances to grow and improve the program for everyone. Here are a few to get you started. Feel free to add your own.
DAILY POINTS OF LIGHT AWARD FORMS AVAILABLE
The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.
By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.
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