This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week – April 17 through April 23 – is Volunteering Is Empathy In Action, when our nation underscores the strong connection between volunteerism and empathy and the “profoundly human connection” at the center of healthier and stronger individuals and communities.
Alluding to the empathy reflected in volunteerism, John W. Gardner, American statesman and Independent Sector co-founder, said, “Our tradition of voluntary association is still vital. And its vitality is rooted in good soil – civic pride, compassion, spiritual commitments, a sense of individual responsibility, and whatever cynics may say, a commitment to the great shared effort to improve our life together and to ensure a good future for our children and our children’s children.”
Today, Independent Sector, with the Do Good Institute, announced that the latest value of a volunteer hour is estimated to be $29.95 – a 4.9% increase from 2020 to 2021. Estimated from data collected in 2021, the figure illustrates the valuable contributions volunteers make to support our communities and nation.
According to the Value of Volunteer Time, and using data from AmeriCorps on volunteer hours, volunteers typically contribute nearly $200 billion to our communities. There is evidence that the number of hours volunteered by people in the United States in 2021 has decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it will take some years to assess the full extent of impact from COVID-19, a study by Fidelity Charitable found that 66% of volunteers have decreased the amount of time they volunteer or stopped entirely due to the pandemic.
Charitable and nonprofit organizations most frequently use the Value of Volunteer Time for recognition events, communications, or reports to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers.
The dogged support of people across the country – despite the often life-threatening challenges posed by COVID-19 – serves to demonstrate that communities nationwide continued to benefit from billions contributed through volunteer time, skills, and efforts, despite ongoing pandemic challenges in 2021.
“The essential contributions made by our nation’s volunteers to lift up, strengthen, and restore communities to make them healthy and equitable for people are always deeply appreciated, but never more so than during the pandemic,” said Dan Cardinali, President and CEO of Independent Sector.
“Despite COVID-19’s devastating impact, which began in 2020 and continues through today, our country’s volunteers continued to show up, virtually and in person, with their compassion, skills, and abilities. They often put their own lives at risk. They are the threads that connect us as a nation, constantly reinforcing the foundation of civil society and helping build pathways so we all can thrive.”
In addition to the national number, Independent Sector also provides the state-level value of volunteer time for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. State level values range from $14.11 per hour for Puerto Rico to $50.48 per hour for the District of Columbia.
For more on the Value of Volunteer Time, the methodology, and to explore historical national and state-level data, visit independentsector.org/value-of-volunteer-time-2022.