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Volunteer Time Value Hits All-Time High

The value of a volunteer’s time hit an all-time high during 2018 at $25.43 an hour, up 3 percent from 2017. It’s an increase of 20.3 percent since 2008 when the rate was $20.25.

An estimated 63 million Americans volunteer roughly 8 billion hours of their time, contributing approximately $203.4 billion in time to nonprofit organizations of all types. The data is fromIndependent Sector’s annual value of volunteer time study.

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. It is based on averages of earnings provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national average is increased 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits. Independent Sector, in partnership with economic impact data firm IMPLAN in Huntersville, N.C., indexes this figure to determine state values.

The value of volunteers in Washington, D.C., topped the list at $41.72 an hour with Mississippi last at $12.64. The study also total Puerto Rico with that value at $12.64 an hour. The full state-by-state breakout is available here .

“Volunteerism has been a driving force in the strength and power of our civil society since this country’s founding,” said Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. “We know that giving of our time, talent, and effort transforms organizations, communities, and our nation, and also has profound effects on the individuals giving their time. The Value of Volunteer Time gives us just one concrete measure to illustrate the power of individuals to transform communities.”

Total volunteer hours are up, but the percentage of people who volunteer is declining. According to the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, the volunteer rate nationally has dropped from about 29 percent to roughly 25 percent. Based on an adult population of 252 million, that means a decrease of more than 10 million American volunteers.

The national volunteer rate isn’t the only thing going down, said Cardinali via a LinkedIn post. He wrote: “The giving rate is dropping at the same time – down from 67 percent in 2000 to 56 percent in 2014. Total dollars are up, which is a good thing, but only because the most affluent Americans are giving more and not because more Americans are giving, and that’s not a good thing. Whether it’s giving or volunteering, you want to see everyone participating in civil society — you want to see everyone saying, ‘I have a stake in my community and I’m committed to doing what I can to make this a better place’.”

Cardinali wants Congress to hike the volunteer mileage reimbursement rate. “Businesses can reimburse their employees at a rate of 54.5 cents per mile, but volunteer mileage has been fixed at a mere 14 cents per mile for over two decades,” he wrote. “What does that say about the way we value volunteers? If you’re driving for business, every mile is 4 times more valuable than if you’re driving to make life better for another human being?”

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