Valuing volunteerism is a two-sided coin. It’s always nice to be appreciated by the nonprofit we serve, but we also need to understand the cost. Volunteerism isn’t without a cost or a value. So in our effort to not just recruit but retain and manage volunteers, how can we have a proper respect?

It really starts with ourselves. We need to understand our personal costs and values.

Do is the new give.

“Do something great.”
“Do something.”
“Do.”

Many of us believe in nonprofits and we donate both time and money to support the causes closest to our hearts.

I believe in supporting nonprofits financially and with my time and I’m public with this donation that appears in my sidebar. As a business, I want my clients to know that I also use funds to make this world a better place.

I am a recurring donor to 4OceanOxfam, and freeCodeCamp. I also support Aspen Camp with Amazon Smile purchases.

I also volunteer with Make WordPressWordCamp Orange CountyWordCamp Los Angeles, and Women Who WP.

It’s good for our souls to give back to the world, to the things that gave us a start, as it gives us a healthy perspective and stimulates gratitude.

Why do we volunteer?

Volunteering is good for our souls. Volunteering is a way to align our values with the world.

I’ve volunteered for all of my adult life with many kinds of nonprofits. I’ve gone through burnout, elation, and everything in between.

As a freelancer, business owner, or even employee, it’s important to understand both the cost and value of volunteerism.

What is the cost of volunteering?

One of the costs of volunteering besides our time is burnout. It’s a real thing.

Why do we burnout?

There are many reasons but one is that we don’t understand how much time we spend.

We burn out from volunteering because we don't understand the value of our time. Click To Tweet

(This is partly why I rant so much about job costing and sample time tracking if you’ve ever spoken to me in person.)

If we don’t understand how we spend our time, it’s too easy to say yes to everything. But at some point, there will be a cost. That could be suffering client work, personal relationships, or health.

Another very easily solved reason is a lack of appreciation. But that’s on the “managing volunteers” side of this conversation.

So, what if our volunteerism had an invoice?

Time is one of the only unsustainable resources we truly have. Our time has both a cost and a value.

Sometimes to gain perspective is to tie our time to a dollar amount. Though it doesn’t speak to all of the value, it’s one way to show others and ourselves that our work, though unpaid, matters.

Maybe if we treated our volunteer work like it was a client, it would give other people a perspective of the worth. To gain a perspective for myself, I ran the numbers on just one of my volunteer efforts.

What if WordCamp Orange County was my client? This would be the invoice based upon my current pricing.

  • Five months of weekly 1/2 hour meeting:
    • 20 meetings at 1/2 of my rate $75 = $1500
  • Social media management:
    • Facebook: $350/mo x 5 = $1750
    • Twitter basic: $350 x 5 = $1750
  • Total in kind donation $5,000

Volunteerism Matters

Besides all of the people I’ve met, relationships I’ve formed, valuable conversations that changed my life, clients I’ve gained, and people I’ve encouraged, there is a monetary value on your time.

Spend it well. Remember your why.

As I told a friend this past weekend at WordCamp Europe,

“If we ever forget that this is about the people, we’ve completely lost our way.”

Go serve, do it for others, but take care of your self.

Clark Tibbs

9 Comments

  1. Sherry L. Sparks on June 19, 2018 at 9:40 am

    great article, so many volunteers are unaware of all this, OR have not put it in to words.

    i always invoice the non-profit i serve, every month. it keeps it real for both the Board of the non-profit, and myself. besides keeping track of my time for my records, it helps their 501-3c status, come tax time. and beside a total INKIND-DONATION, i give them a TOTAL BILLABLE HOURS. i submit this to my tax guy as well.

    oh and DO is part of my non-profit’s name (and mantra) “Go and Do”, Go and Do Likewise, Inc is the organization in the US that began locally and GADKenya (.org) is the organization in Kenya. that GAD acronym will be attached to the model as it expands, which we are on the verge of. just landed some major funding from a local multi-billionaire, yay!!!! heh :)))))

    • Bridget Willard on June 19, 2018 at 9:51 am

      What a great idea, Sherry. Thanks for sharing it.

      Kindly,

  2. Carol Stephen on June 22, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Everyone benefits when you stop and figure out how much time and effort you’re spending when you volunteer. I tend to do shorter stints of a day or two, but I like the idea of a deeper dive like you did with WordCamp Orange County. Excellent article, my friend!

  3. […] being a Make WordPress team rep for the marketing team, I was also a co-organizer for WordCamp Orange County for the second year in a row. I volunteered again for WordCamp Los Angeles, […]

  4. Priyanka Behera on February 1, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Excellent idea, and yes if we measure the proper time of volunteering. Like any shorter time in a day/week than it is good for everything.

  5. […] I used to spend quite a bit of my time volunteering. Sometimes volunteer hours are harder to give. I even wrote about the value of my volunteer time for WordCamp Orange County. […]

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