Last week, I was talking to the Executive Director of a small nonprofit. She said they had only 4 full-time employees, but over an 18 day period just before Christmas, they have over 2,500 volunteers who make their annual program possible.
The value of a volunteer’s time donated to a nonprofit is enormous. But tracking those hours is a challenge for most nonprofits – how many hours volunteers contributed and the impact of those hours (what was accomplished? what difference was made?). With volunteer time outweighing that of paid employees for most nonprofits, volunteer hours are exceptionally valuable.
So let’s take a quick look at 5 great reasons why tracking your volunteers’ time and including it in your budget and financials makes sense.
1. Money, money, money.
One of the biggest issues for most nonprofits is funding. It’s key to keeping your nonprofit afloat. Tracking volunteer hours can help your organization prove more qualified for a grant.
When reporting your organization’s impact to a grant provider, including volunteer hours, makes a huge difference. Independent Sector recently released the value of volunteer time of $ 25.43 per hour. If your nonprofit records just 8 hours of volunteer time per day, that works out to over $ 52,800 a year, calculated for just for 5 days a week.
The power of your nonprofit stems from the fact that so many individuals come together to work for your mission – something that is bigger than any single individual. When tracking and sharing your volunteers’ time and impact, grantors clearly see that you have a team of people that believe in your mission and that you are making a positive contribution to your community.
2. Keep ’em coming.
Volunteers appreciate recognition. Remember that we always count what we value. So tracking volunteer time, clearly shows your volunteers that you value the time that they are putting into your nonprofit. Sometimes, volunteers don’t see the connection between their donated time and your mission. This is the primary reason why volunteers don’t build long-term relationships with nonprofits. By crediting the volunteers’ time and recognizing them when they hit certain milestones, you automatically build a system of transparency and trust. And this can be key for volunteer retention.
3. Build an A-1 reputation.
Use your volunteer hours to attract new volunteers and donors. Use your tracked hours to build a great volunteer narrative. Let’s say, 300 volunteers put in, on an average 10 hours each over the year. That gives you a total value of 300*10*25.43 or $ 76,290 of volunteer work. Use that number not just to thank your volunteers, but put that in front of your donors and your grantors. When they see the impact of your volunteers’ time, they are more likely to want to be a part of your nonprofit. And the fact that you actually have concrete data, makes your organization seem more legitimate to prospective donors and grantors.
4. Get your ducks in a row.
Once you start tracking your volunteer time and where it is being spent, you can start improving your volunteer programs and ultimately strengthen your organization. Make sure that you ask your volunteers to track what they are working on, in addition to tracking the actual time spent. Once you collect this data, you can put it to good use to adjust your programs.
Let’s say, you notice that the total number of volunteer hours has increased, but you are actually getting fewer school backpacks packed. You look at your volunteer data in detail, and you see that 60% of your volunteer time is going towards marketing and administrative tasks and only 40% towards packing the backpacks.
Now if your short-term goal is to grow your nonprofit through marketing efforts, then this may be fine. On the other hand, if you want to get more backpacks out to school kids, then you can easily adjust your volunteer programs to need more volunteers on the backpack packing job. There’s countless ways you can improve and strengthen your programs once you have the volunteer data to back it up.
Tracking volunteer time will help you align your organization goals and your volunteers’ efforts.
5. No taxes, yeaaaah!
As a nonprofit, you don’t have to pay taxes. That’s great, but you still can’t escape
the paper-work. Use the Form 990 to your advantage. Since this form must be made public and the data is available on sites like Guidestar, donors and grantors use it to evaluate organization (s) that they want to engage with. Displaying accurate volunteer hours, is not just the right thing to do, it can also help with your funding efforts.
Never assume that your volunteer hours won’t look impressive, the fact that people in your community believe in you, to put in their own time is a huge testament to your nonprofit. Being transparent with your volunteer time gives your a great image with the public, with funders and with the government.
With Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack and Volunteers for Salesforce, managing donors and volunteers is now easy. And with V4S Mobile, you can now track volunteer hours very easily on mobile devices. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information on volunteer tracking. We’ll be happy to help.