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The Value of Volunteers

An introduction to a complex subject

Ask most charities and they'll smile and tell you that their volunteers are "invaluable!" However, they are often under pressure from various directions to quote an hourly rate. It's a difficult. question as volunteers can be used for roles that paid staff don't do.

Some charities put a figure in their annual report based on totting up volunteer hours and multiplying it by the National Minimum Wage (being rebranded as National Living Wage) which as of September 2017 is £7.50/hour for those over 25.

We asked our local charities what figure they used and most of them used figures close to the average wage and rates between £11.50-£13.50 were popular. Westonbirt Arboretum is quite sophisticated having a range of rates depending on the role:
  • Basic £5.30 – based on minimum wage 2016 for 18-20yrs
  • Standard £9.99 – the default figure for all volunteering activity based on DEFRA volunteer hours rate
  • Lead volunteer £20.00 – e.g. running a conservation group on the Forestry Commission’s behalf, based on Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) figures
  • Professional £47.00 – a volunteer using their professional skills to complement their volunteer activity e.g. ecologist completing surveys on behalf of the Forestry Commission
At a national level, estimates for the total value of volunteer include £23.9 billion based on 15 million "formal volunteers" which values each one at over £1500/year. Then there is the "well being" value to the volunteers themselves which some estimate at £13.500/year

For further reading on this complex subject, take a look at this NCVO blog article

(September 2017)

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