Value of volunteer time rises to $23.07 an hour

Time is money, and the time your Scout unit spends volunteering in the community is no exception.

Add up all the volunteer hours recorded by Scouts, Scouters and Venturers last year, and you’ve got $331 million in volunteer service to our country. (You’re welcome, America.)

We know this number because Independent Sector, a nonprofit network dedicated to supporting other nonprofits, recently updated its estimate for the national value of volunteer time.

That new number: $23.07 an hour. That’s up from last year’s count of $22.55 per hour.

Let’s say your troop recorded 300 man-hours of community service last year, including Scouting for Food, Eagle projects, community clean-up days and more. Congratulations! You just saved your community nearly $7,000. 

Of course, you shouldn’t expect a check from your city for cleaning up the playground. And you can’t deduct time spent volunteering this year on your taxes next year (though you can deduct certain other Scouting expenses).

But this week is National Volunteer Week, so it’s a great time to consider just how valuable the 14,356,107 hours of volunteer time you put in last year really were.

Yes, there’s a monetary value. The $23.07 number helps us quantify just how important Scouts, Scouters and Venturers are to our country.

As Independent Sector writes, “The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.”

But the real value of Scouting service projects goes beyond a dollar amount. You can’t put a number on the way service projects build character in young people. You can’t quantify the way they spread Scouting spirit everywhere. In other words, their real value can only be called “priceless.”

10 Comments

  1. Good information we can use describing the benefits of the Scouting program. Our Troop just performed a total of 150 hours of service for our Chartering Organization last Saturday.

  2. Unfortunately, the BSA isn’t being trustworthy as most of the volunteer hours included in this were provided by young people. Valuing their service at $23.07 per hour isn’t honest. Since “Trustworthy” is the first point of the Scout Law, I find it strange that the BSA is being deceptive.

    • How would you value the service a young person provides while serving his community in the name of Scouting? I value it highly and disagree with your comment.

    • Calvin…You are totally out of touch on this. The service hours done in Scouting are from both Scouts and Leaders, parents and siblings as well as many others that are involved in Scouting Service Projects. Scouting has always been and will continue to be a driving force in getting people involved in giving service to others. When you instill this concept and way of life in Scouts and other young people, they will typically continue to give service later on in life.

    • While I see the point he is impolitely trying to make, I too disagree with the comment. Look at the description provided at the link to Independent Sector. If anything, this figure is likely conservative when applied to the value of BSA volunteer time. For example, it does not capture the value of the many specialized skills that a volunteer may be applying (e.g., mentoring the Medicine, Engineering, or Law merit badges). Those areas which enjoy exceptionally high levels of adult participation are also in high-income, high cost of living areas (think Dallas, Circle Ten Council, DC metro, northern VA), so the opportunity cost for a parent to volunteer (vs. put in a few more hours a week at work) is much higher and this is not accounted for in the figure. Finally consider how many volunteer hours provided by troops and other units that go unreported.

  3. Interesting figures here. I was taught that volunteer hours and/or your personal hourly rate outside the work place was worth about 1/2 of your hourly rate. A $23 per hour rate seems inflated. Not all volunteers are worth this much. Are we averaging here?

    • What you would get payed to do the work is always less than what someone has to pay to get the work done. But, yes there’s a whole lot of averaging and fuzzy math in the equation.

  4. Does the monetary value really matter? Get out there and “Do a good turn.” For the sake of doing so. That is the point of volunteering.

  5. When our two sons completed many hours of community service through service projects, including their two Eagle Service Projects, money per hour was never a consideration nor was that of news releases and publicity. Their projects were meant to help those needing service they could provide. The comments we heard were: this is a God-send, this project has saved our life, this has provided safety for us, this will help boost our morale, this will beautify and help our community, many will benefit from this project for years to come, thank you, and so on. In both cases our sons did receive news reports and publicity even though they did not seek it. So to have any discussion about money is not in our vocabulary.

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