This being National Volunteer Week, let’s ask, “what’s the value of volunteering?”
The Independent Sector announced the estimated value of one hour donated to a nonprofit by a volunteer increased 49 cents to an average of $23.56.
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. More than 62 million Americans, or 25 percent of the adult population, give nearly 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 billion in 2014.
This dollar figure, however, is of limited use when it comes to specialized and intensive forms of volunteering, such as advocating for children who have been abused or neglected. The truth is this: the value of volunteering is not a dollar figure. It is impact.
Take for example CASA volunteer, Roy Fulcher who stood up for Zachary to make sure his best interests were always front and center as he navigated the child welfare system. The value of a consistent, trusted and appropriate adult relationship for children who have never experienced that before is priceless.
And the impact goes two ways. Whenever we talk with volunteers, one experience always shines through: “I think the kids did more for me than I did for them.”
The reward for volunteering is not measured in dollars. It is measured in lives lifted up. The lives of both those who are helped and those who volunteer.
So for CASA, the measurement of a volunteer’s value is this: the light of hope that shines in an abused child’s eyes who learns that the most consistent adult presence in her life is not being paid.
As 16-year old Selina reflected in a thank you letter to her CASA volunteer: “I just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate everything you’ve done for my family and me. You have been there since the very beginning, and I know you were one of the few who really cared.”