Recently, I was an audience member at a panel discussion centered on volunteerism and one of the speakers threw out this figure: The value of a volunteer hour is worth $20 to the organization that benefits from it. A quick fact check: Indeed the national, nonpartisan coalition of nonprofits, Independent Sector, is slightly more specific, reporting that $21.79 was the value of the volunteer hour in 2011 on a national level. And that number has tripled from 1980's estimated $7.46. What that means overall, the organization writes on its website, is that "according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.7 million Americans, or 26.5 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $173 billion in 2010." That's a whole lot of free labor that's absolutely essential to the success of thousands of organizations.
On a state level, the numbers vary slightly, and in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available, the value of one hour of volunteer time in Idaho was $15.93. For an organization on a shoe-string budget, that kind of savings means the difference between success and shuttering. For a local organization, say for example, the Boise Rescue Mission, which relies on volunteers to pump out nine meals a day across its three shelters, that savings means feeding hundreds more hungry men, women and children.
This week's main story is our second-annual Volunteer Guide, with a laundry list of volunteer opportunities available across the city in a variety of organizations. Though it is long, the list is but a fraction of the places where you can donate your time as a volunteer in the valley.
This year, in addition to the printed version of this volunteer guide, we've launched on online database of volunteer opportunities that we'll maintain as part of our events listings. Event-specific volunteer opportunities are currently listed there (the Race for the Cure is looking for 195 volunteers), as well as ongoing needs with organizations that rely on volunteer support year round to accomplish their missions.