May 25, 2018
Volunteer Value in Bay State Among Highest in the Nation

April 25, 2017 — The value of an hour of a volunteer's time in Massachusetts rose 3% last year to $29.88, the third highest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, although the rate at which residents volunteer puts the state ranked in the bottom half of the nation, a newly released analysis shows.

According to Independent Sector, a national leadership forum that represents thousands of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, the value of volunteer time is higher only in Washington D.C. ($39.17 an hour) and Washington state ($30.04 an hour).

Nationally, volunteer time last year was pegged at $24.14 an hour, up 2.5% from the year before.

Among the other New England states, volunteer time ranks highest in Connecticut, at $29.29 per hour, and lowest in Maine, at $21.61 per hour.

Independent Sector, which released the analysis in connection with National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, said the value of volunteer time "is only a tool and only one way to show the immense value volunteers provide to an organization."

Charitable organizations can use the hourly estimate to quantify the value volunteers provide.

According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the value of volunteer services can be used on financial statements, including statements for internal and external purposes, grant proposals, and annual reports, but only if a volunteer is performing a specialized skill for a nonprofit.

The general rule to follow when determining if contributed services meet the FASB criteria for financial forms is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated.

Among other Massachusetts trends highlighted by Independent Sector, in 2016:
  • 24.8% of residents volunteer, ranking the state 32nd among the 50 states and Washington, DC. – which compares to 24.9% nationally
  • Volunteers put in 150.92 million hours or service, or 28.2 hours per capita
  • Volunteers contributed $3.6 billion worth of service
  • 50.8% of residents donate $25 or more to charity each year
  • 91.1% of residents frequently talk with neighbors, compared to 85.7% nationally
  • 33.9% of residents participate in groups and/or organizations, compared to 36.3% nationally
  • 63.7% of residents engage in "informal volunteering" (for example, doing favors for neighbors), compared to 62.5% nationally
Independent Sector said the value of volunteer time is based on the hourly earnings (approximated from yearly values) of all production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls average (based on yearly earnings provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for the national average. Independent Sector indexes this figure to determine state values and increases it by 12% to estimate for fringe benefits.

"It is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time. Volunteers provide many intangibles that cannot be easily quantified," according to Independent Sector. "For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time, and provide support on a wide range of projects."

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