Volunteers add so much more than an extra pair of hands to your organization. They bring tremendous value in so many ways. Understanding your Volunteer Return on Investment (ROI) can help you understand the depth of their worth and describe it to others.
How can you account for this value? One way to get started is to track Volunteer ROI. Beyond merely tracking the limited hourly value of volunteer time, ROI can help you take into account other ways volunteers have an impact on your bottom line help fill a critical human resource role for your nonprofit.
Does Volunteer ROI account for everything? No. It’s pretty hard to put a number on the value of human kindness or the positive changes in individual lives or the environment brought about by volunteer dedication. But, it’s a start.
Why Track Volunteer ROI?
There are many reasons to track your own Volunteer ROI – your effectiveness and ability to stretch program resources matters to many different stakeholders – executive leadership, members, volunteers, funders, community partners, etc. Your ability to speak with authority about how those resources are multiplied may make the difference between lukewarm or avid support.
Calculating ROI can help you answer the question – For every dollar we invest in your volunteer program, how much comes back to the community?
Tracking Volunteer ROI helps remove some of the guessing game about the value of your program and lets stakeholders know that you care about maximizing your effectiveness. Volunteer ROI helps build trust with those who want to support you.
Tracking Volunteer ROI can help you:
- More deeply assess your organization’s assets and liabilities
- Determine the impact of program changes, positive or negative
- Justify investments in improving volunteer coordination
- Identify specific areas for volunteer appreciation
- Demonstrate effective use of contributions
- Provide evidence of community in-kind support for grant proposals
- To market the volunteer function inside and outside the organization
- To paint a more complete organizational picture
ROI as a Benchmark
While many think of Volunteer ROI as a “one and done” type of calculation, it is even more powerful if tracked over time. Imagine if your program budget increased this year and you were able to demonstrate how those dollars were multiplied? What if a group of volunteers focused on a challenging project and you could share with them the impact of their efforts when combined with program resources?
By tracking Volunteer ROI both at the beginning and the end of a specific length of time, you can demonstrate the impact new resources, increased effort, or a change in strategy had on your program and the community it serves.
The Volunteer ROI Formula
Calculating ROI may seem mysterious, the formula is simple.
(Gains – Cost)/Cost = ROI
This formula represents a more in-depth way to calculate the total contributions of volunteers and is commonly used by business to calculate ROI.
Here are a few things that might be included in each part of the equation:
While tracking Volunteer ROI can’t account for everything, it can help you take into account several of your inputs and outcomes together and begin to describe in greater detail how your volunteers make a difference.
Freebie – VolunteerPro ROI Calculator
If math isn’t your thing, or you just want to get your ROI benchmark on the fly, try our VolunteerPro ROI Calculator. It will help you quickly and simply figure how much is returned for every dollar invested in your program. The formulas are baked in, so all you have to do is a little data entry.
You can find it here: http://volpro.net/roi-calculator/.