Value of Volunteer Time Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When do you release annual updates to the value of volunteer time?  

A: The value of volunteer time annual updates are released in April during National Volunteer Week. These estimates reflect the previous calendar year because they are based on wage data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and it takes some time for BLS to process and validate the year-end data. 

Q: What’s the value of volunteer time in my state? 

A: You can find your state’s value of volunteer time by clicking the button “See State-by-State Data” or by reaching out to Independent Sector on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email at

Q: Do you have the value of volunteer time broken down by subsector occupation or specific role performed?  

A: No, the only available breakout numbers are for the value of volunteer time by state. To calculate additional breakout numbers, wage estimates for specific roles or subsector occupations would need to be available and the methodology would need to be adapted. 

Q: Do you have international estimates for the value of volunteer time?  

A: We are not aware of the value of volunteer time estimates for other countries. In order to calculate these, the methodology Independent Sector uses would need to be adapted on a country-by-country basis. 

Q: Do the state estimates mirror the cost one would pay for specific professional services such as financial coaching or legal assistance? 

A: The estimated value of volunteer time values represents the cost of paying people to provide services. This is most relevant when discussing the labor force, as a whole, for a given state or for the entire country.  

Special cases exist, such as a high-wage earner who does volunteer work that isn’t equivalent in cost (ex. A doctor who volunteers to coach Little League) or someone who performs highly skilled volunteer work, but doesn’t earn a high wage themself (ex. a retiree who volunteers their legal expertise). There are also cases in which the quality of the work performed by volunteers is lower than the quality of work performed by professionals, which may or may not be true for “skilled volunteers.” The state or national estimates are not designed to address these special cases. Instead, it is an estimate of an hour of volunteer service, in general.   

Q: Does the value of volunteer time estimate include the fringe benefit rate?  

A: Yes, fringe benefits are included in the final estimate. You can find additional information on the methodology here 

Q: How do nonprofits and philanthropy use the value of volunteer time value? 

A: Many nonprofits use the national and state value of volunteer time values to demonstrate the return on investment of volunteerism within their organizations. To learn more, check out this blog post from the Initiative for Strategic Volunteer Engagement about why numbers matter for strategic volunteer engagement.  

If you are using the value of volunteer time in exciting and different ways, please email and let us know! 

Q: How can I improve volunteerism within my organization?  

A: We encourage you to utilize resources from Independent Sector members the Association for Research on Nonprofits & Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration, Points of Light, and VolunteerMatch. 

Q: What other research does Independent Sector produce?  

A: Independent Sector produces recurring and standalone research and analysis on topics related to the health of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy. Annually, in addition to the Value of Volunteer Time, Independent Sector releases Trust in Civil Society, which examines public trust in nonprofits and philanthropy, public polling on policy issues impacting the sector, and Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector, which examines sector health across four dimensions: nonprofit economy, nonprofit workforce, governance and trust, and public policy and advocacy. 

Additionally, Independent Sector’s recent standalone research projects include The Retreat of Influence: Exploring the Decline of Nonprofit Advocacy and Public Engagement, as well as unique research projects produced as part of Independent Sector’s Visiting Scholar Program.

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