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October 27, 2020
Mass. Volunteer Time Among Highest in U.S. at $32.96/Hour

July 21, 2020 — The value of an hour of a volunteer's time in Massachusetts rose 2.5% last year to $32.96, making it the highest among the 50 states, according to a new analysis released today.

According to the Value of Volunteer Time study completed by 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. ($44.14 an hour), an increase of 5.8% from the year before.

Nationally, volunteer time in 2019 was pegged at $27.20 an hour, up 6.9% from the year before.

The value of a volunteer's time in Massachusetts in 2018 and 2017 was also the highest among the 50 states, second only to Washington, D.C.

Among the other New England states, volunteer time in 2018 was highest in Connecticut, at $32.07 per hour, and lowest in Maine, at $24.21 per hour.

“We know intuitively and through the Value of Volunteer Time that volunteers’ selfless work is a valuable asset that enables nonprofits to extend even further critical services they provide in communities nationwide,” said Independent Sector president and CEO Dan Cardinali. “But during this extraordinary time of challenge caused by COVID-19, when many organizations are struggling economically to maintain mission-critical operations, the contributions of volunteers are more important than ever, and often a critical linchpin that enables nonprofit organizations to continue to provide needed services to help communities endure and survive the pandemic.”

In recent years the percentage of adults who volunteer has declined to roughly 25%.

Nonprofits tend to pay employees less than businesses do, and are at a further disadvantage when it comes to reimbursement for driving. Businesses can reimburse their employees at a rate of 57.5 cents per mile in 2020, but volunteer mileage is fixed at 14 cents per mile.

The latest value was calculated by the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute and recent graduate of the School of Public Policy, Michael Sousane. The figure is calculated with hourly earnings released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, using a new method to adjust the hourly value for fringe benefits.

Independent Sector has noted that the value of a volunteer's work is based on his or her volunteer work, not his or her earning power. If a doctor is painting a fence or a lawyer is sorting groceries, he or she is not performing his or her specialized skill for the nonprofit, and their volunteer hour value would not be higher.

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