3 Impactful Reasons to Track Nonprofit Volunteer Hours

3 impactful reasons to track nonprofit volunteer hours

Nonprofit volunteers play a vital role in many nonprofits’ operations⁠—both behind the scenes and regarding crucial mission-related programming. But regardless of the jobs that volunteers do, your team must have a detailed plan for tracking the nonprofit volunteer hours working alongside your organization.

In this guide from our friends at Double the Donation, we’ll walk through three of the most impactful reasons why nonprofit volunteer hour-tracking matters⁠—and how your team can get started in no time.

This includes:

  1. Communicating supporter impact
  2. Ensuring volunteer grant eligibility
  3. Calculating program costs

Bonus: How to track volunteer hours with ease

If you’re not already tracking your nonprofit volunteers’ hours, you’re likely missing out on some data —and maybe even revenue sources⁠. If you have an outdated time-tracking system, you might be seeing some of the same obstacles and unfulfilled potential.

Luckily, there’s no better time to revamp your strategy than the present!

Ready to jump in as we explore some of the top reasons to track volunteer hours at your organization and bring your volunteer management strategy to the next level?

1. Communicating Nonprofit Volunteer Hour Impact

More than likely, your volunteers donate their time to your nonprofit because they want to help further your mission. That’s great! Having up-to-date nonprofit volunteer hours can go a long way toward helping communicate the impact and recognize them for their contributions.

For example, let’s say a supporter, Amy, has been volunteering for your animal shelter multiple times. She does so because she cares about the cause⁠—the animals in your care⁠—and wants to make a difference. However, she might wonder how her participation with your organization actually contributes to your mission.

Luckily, you can pull volunteer records and calculate that she has spent more than 250 hours with your organization. This can ultimately be translated into tangible impact related to the organization. Such as “Your time spent answering phones enabled us to communicate with more than 100 pet parents, aiding in multiple adoptions.” Or “your help unloading our supplies truck each week allowed our team to provide necessities to more than 300 animals.”

Doing so can even increase volunteer loyalty to your cause⁠. Reigniting your volunteers’ passion for the mission and communicating their role in reaching your organization’s goals.

2. Ensuring volunteer grant eligibility

Volunteer grants are a key form of corporate philanthropy for any nonprofit organization, especially those with well-built-out volunteer programs.

When an individual works for a company that offers this type of initiative, they essentially qualify to request grants from their employer on behalf of the organizations they volunteer with. The amount is typically donated by the employing company, according to the number of hours an individual volunteered with the organization in question. Alternatively, it may be paid out in a lump sum once the corporate volunteer reaches a set number of hours.

Regardless, volunteer grants can be an excellent way to increase funding through volunteer programs. In fact, corporate giving research from Double the Donation indicates that 80% of companies that offer volunteer grants contribute between $8 and $15 per hour their employee volunteers!

However, it’s important to note that individuals looking to request volunteer grants from their employers are typically required to complete a brief application in order to secure the funding. And one of the key components of the application involves providing proof of hours volunteered⁠. In other words, the company in question won’t usually take an employee’s word for it. If the organization they work with doesn’t have a time-tracking system in place, they may miss out on the funding without accurate records to provide.

3. Calculating program costs

While your volunteer hours are a resource, your organization receives free of charge. It’s important to understand that they play a significant role in your overall impact, just as a paid employee would. In fact, the Independent Sector has recently estimated that the value of a volunteer hour falls at $29.95 (April 2022).

With a more complete understanding of the volunteer time that goes into your organization’s programming, you can more accurately quantify the generous contributions made by individuals and groups volunteering with your cause. Not only that, but it also allows your team to better understand and account for your true program costs.

Keep in mind that your ROI is defined as the return on investment of a particular program or initiative and functions as a common indicator of an organization’s overall success. In order to calculate the figure, you typically first need to determine the total sum of the inputs or costs.

Bonus: How to track nonprofit volunteer hours with ease

When you make the effort to track volunteer hours for your team, your organization benefits as a whole. And it doesn’t have to be particularly difficult to handle, either! Gone are the days of handwritten notepads or even digitized spreadsheets.

Instead, the best (i.e., simplest, most effective) way to track volunteer hours is to employ a dedicated volunteer management system. This type of tool not only streamlines time tracking by making it quick and easy for volunteers to check in and out for their shifts (and automatically track associated hours), but it can even go a few steps further by empowering individuals to sign up for their own shifts online, receive upcoming event reminders, and submit self-reported hours as well.

With the right tools at your fingertips, you and your nonprofit team will be set up for ongoing success in terms of volunteer engagement, appreciation, data management, workplace giving and other grant opportunities, and more.

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Photo Brandy Strand
Brandy Strand
Nonprofit Partnerships Account Executive

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.