The average value of donated time by volunteers was $20.25 per hour in 2008, according to a new study by Independent Sector, in Washington, a coalition of major charities and foundations.
The study also broke down the average dollar value of volunteer hours by state and in Washington, based on 2007 figures, the most recent available. Labor by volunteers in the District of Columbia was deemed the most financially valuable, at a worth of $31.55 per hour, followed by New York volunteers, whose work was valued at $28.04 per hour.
The donated time of volunteers in Puerto Rico offered the biggest bargain for charities, at $10.56 per hour, followed by South Dakotans, whose time was pegged at a value of $14.27 per hour.
The study based its data on average hourly earnings for all hourly-wage, nonfarm workers gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, increasing figures by 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits.
The overall average value of a volunteer hour has jumped 39 percent in the past 10 years, from $14.56 in 1998, and nearly 18 percent in the past five years, up from $17.19 in 2003. In both cases, the increases are ahead of the rate of inflation during those periods.
Charities can use to calculate the amount of support an organization receives from its volunteers, according to Independent Sector. However, such calculations of the value of volunteer services can only be used to complete financial statements —including grant proposals, and annual reports—if the supporter is contributing a specialized skill, according to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, in Norwalk, Conn. More information on guidelines for using this data is available on the Standards Board’s Web site