Making Volunteer Value More Visible

Volunteer Value: More Than Meets the Eye

Iceberg with volunteer value data above the waterline including: number of volunteers and hours, number of people served by volunteers and number of services provided, hourly financial value, and money donated by vols. Data below the waterline include passion; number of advocacy contacts; suggestions from volunteers; quality of service; voice of community; sense of purpose; trust and good will; legislation passed; skills shared or developed; referrals of donors, program participants or other vols; connections formed; shared stewardship of mission; greater understanding of cause.  Making volunteer value visible by identify purposes for partnering with vols; determine if current data reveal vol contributions to mission, vol purpose, values, or community; share numbers that reveal the scope of vol contributions to the mission; tell stories that reveal depth or quality of vol contributions; and link volunteer numbers and stories with org goals.

The value that volunteers bring to the organizations and communities they serve is diverse. Too often, we only track and report the things that are easy to see and count. Or default to an industry standard of numbers, hours, and financial value that is limiting. That means we leave a big part of the volunteer story unseen and untold.

There is not one “right” way to report volunteer value. Pick an approach that works for your mission and purpose using the tips in the flyer. You might find it helpful to partner with another team member.

When in doubt (or feeling overwhelmed), start small. Select one of the action items that fits your needs and capacity. See how it works and make adjustments, or try another action item.

Alternatively, make your own iceberg with your department or volunteers. You can create it at a meeting, or sketch it on a big sheet of poster paper and invite folks to contribute words or pictures of volunteer contributions. The exercise alone will be a step forward in making volunteer value more visible.