The Value of Volunteers for Your Grant Applications

Published by Strategic Grants

One of the things a lot of nonprofits seem to struggle with is knowing how to transform volunteer hours spent on projects into an estimate of the dollar value of volunteer input. It’s a very useful thing to know how to calculate, as you can list volunteer hours as an in-kind contribution to your project in grant applications, to show your organisation’s financial commitment to getting your project up and running! This is why it should be part of your strategic plan to keep a track of the input your volunteers have to your organisation.

There are a lot of different statistics on how to value volunteer hours, most calculated from data created by the ABS in 2006 (when the hourly rate was $24.09).  This has been used to calculate volunteer wages since.

These days, depending on the formula used to calculate increases in average earnings over time, there are as many figures per hour as there are organisations!

Many local councils specify their own dollar value on volunteer labour, which is usually in the range of $20 to $25 an hour. Should you be applying for a grant which specifies volunteer value, your work is done for you!

However if not, it might be useful to calculate the value per hour yourself. We can work it out using the ABS calculation of average opportunity cost volunteer wage rate in 2006 of $24.09 per hour, and the TradingEconomics.comfigures of Australian average weekly wages from 2006-2017 ($850 p/w in 2006 to $1160 p/w in 2017).

First, work out the percentage increase of wage between 2017 and 2006 (1160-850 = 310. 310 as % of 1160 = 26% wage increase). Then apply % increase to the ABS hourly volunteer rate of $24.09 = $30.3 per hour in 2017.

The Institute of Community Directors Australia calculated a similar hourly value of $31.50 in 2013, but recommend using a rate closer to the market hourly rate for professionals (lawyers, tradespeople etc).

However you reach your conclusions on what your volunteers are worth, you need to have a sound logic behind it and be able to show it in your grant application. It doesn’t have to be highly detailed.

For example for the above calculation, your grant application note should read something like this:

“Figure based on wage rates per hour as detailed in  Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy 2000 estimates from ABS data, with increases to account for average wage since 2010, as calculated from Trading Economics Australia Average Weekly Wages figures.”

And there you have it! We hope this helps you out with your next grant application when answering the ‘in-kind contributions’ question.

For more free resources on grants process, strategy and application writing you can visit Strategic Grants’ website:

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