Here at DC Habitat, we love our volunteers. We rely on all of them, both individual volunteers and corporate groups, for the construction of our affordable homes. We often hear expressions of surprise on-site when volunteers realize how much actual work they get to put into our construction projects. DC Habitat wouldn’t be able to sustain itself as an organization without them, and it’s almost impossible to put a price on the value of our volunteers—almost.
The Independent Sector recently released a study that focused on quantifying the value of a volunteer hour. The number was calculated based on the average hourly earnings of all production and non-supervisory employees on non-farm, private payrolls. This number is then indexed to determine state values, and increased by 12 percent to account for fringe benefits.
The national estimated value of a volunteer hour is $22.14. In the 2011 rankings, DC comes in as the highest valued state, at $34.04 per hour. We’ll do the math for you: that’s almost twelve dollars over the national average and $25.79 more than the minimum wage in DC! (If you’re curious about how other states compared, the second highest state was New York, at $28.73 per hour. The lowest valued volunteer hour came from Mississippi, at $15.58.)
Volunteer engagement is on the rise, and this year was no exception. 64.3 million Americans volunteered in 2011, a record high for the past five years. Meanwhile, the estimated average value of volunteer hours has increased by 35 cents, from $21.79. DC, the capital of both the nation and the nonprofit world, is home to an estimated 15,148 nonprofits.
So, thanks, volunteers. We think you’re great, and we couldn’t do it without you!