Cost of a Volunteer
08 April 2003

Following US President George W. Bush's call for more Americans to volunteer, the Grantmaker Forum on Community & National Service probed the nonprofit sector’s concerns and issues about absorbing an influx of new volunteers. What capacity do these organizations have to place them? What financial resources can they draw upon to train them? What infrastructure do they need to supervise volunteers and recognize their contributions?

Clearly it takes some amount of financial capacity for a nonprofit organization to turn even the most eager citizens into valued volunteers. Recognizing that “Volunteers aren’t free,” the Grantmaker Forum on Community & National Service decided to explore the question: What does it cost to mount an effective and high quality volunteer programme?

The information presented here does not attempt to calculate a ratio of return on investment. Instead, it is intended as an exploratory examination of the costs — many of which are hidden — associated with operating a high quality volunteer programme. By this work we hope to raise up for further consideration the financial implications for the nonprofit sector of a significant national increase in volunteerism."

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