by James Moore, Certified Public Accountants & Consultants

We all know the importance of volunteers. But can we put a number on the value of their work?

The answer is yes—and that number is a big one. According to nonprofit leadership network Independent Sector, the estimated value of an hour of volunteer work rose to $28.54 per hour in 2020. That’s an increase of nearly 5% from the previous year. The figure is based upon average hourly wages of non-management, non-agricultural workers. This means that the 8 billion hours of volunteer work performed by Americans in 2020 was worth over $228 billion.

Imagine hiring someone to distribute food, build a house, publicize a charity event or provide basic medical care. These are just a few examples of the volunteer services provided by millions of Americans every year.

Now imagine paying $28.54/hour per person for these services on a budget that’s already stretched thin. It doesn’t take long to see the impact that volunteers have on a nonprofit’s bottom line. Nonprofits can use the value of these hours to encourage people to give of their time by demonstrating this impact. They can also use it to recognize those who volunteer above and beyond the norm.

Placing a dollar value on volunteer work can serve nonprofits in a variety of ways. Some people who can’t afford to give financially don’t realize the impact volunteering their services can have. This hourly figure provides nonprofits with a powerful way to demonstrate the impact of helping those in need.

Additionally, this estimated hourly rate can impact financial reporting. According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the value of volunteer services can be disclosed in a nonprofit’s financial statements for grant proposals, annual reports and other purposes. FASB states that nonmonetary information, such as the number of donated hours or services provided by volunteers, can be helpful in assessing the success and long-term viability of a nonprofit. Using this figure, you can put a dollar value on the support you receive in the form of volunteer work.

So take a few minutes to calculate the monetary impact of volunteers on your organization. And check out the map below (courtesy of Independent Sector) with the average value by state. While we all agree that their selflessness is priceless, you can indeed put a number on the value of their work!

At your station start listing the number of volunteer student announcers, board operators, camera men/women, youth journalists, pledge drive phone bank volunteers, special event workers and more.

Then count the total hours they contribute. Then calculate their value at the 2020 rate of $28.54 per hour.


James Moore works with public broadcasters across the US on audits, SABS, and other required financial reports. You can reach Jane R. Lastinger, CPA, and head of the public media group by email at

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