Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Valuing volunteers for in-kind contributions: how to figure out $ values for volunteer hours when you’re not a maths nerd.

KateBNE Author: Kate Sunners

The grants research team has spent a lot of time recently entering Council grants into our GEM Portal.

One thing that most Council grants have in common is that they require from the applicant a cash or in-kind contribution, and that many of them only fund organisations and projects with broad community support.

Luckily your volunteer base is a big tick towards the ‘in-kind’ and ‘broad community support’ boxes.

Allocating a dollar value is a necessity when calculating your organisation’s in-kind contribution to a project, and indeed, as the Giving New Zealand 2014 Report (p. 11) showed collective volunteering hours in 2014 were worth $1,973.3 million, it is something which we definitely should understand how to value!

This is why it should be part of your strategic plan to keep a track of your organisations volunteer input.

Some councils specify their own dollar value on volunteer labour, which is usually in the range of $20 to $25 an hour. Should you be applying for a grant which specifies volunteer value, your work is done for you!

However if not, it might be useful to calculate the value per hour yourself. Like the Giving New Zealand report, you can use the average hourly earnings ($28.03) to calculate. Here’s an example: 


  Our organisation's in kind donation towards our project:

  100 x hours of volunteer labour to clean up the foreshore = $2803   

You might like to consider using a rate closer to the market hourly rate for professionals (lawyers, tradespeople etc). Likely they will be able to supply you with their hourly market rate.

However you reach your conclusions on what your volunteers are worth, you need to have a sound logic behind it and be able to show it in your grant application. It doesn’t have to be highly detailed.

For example for the above calculation, your grant application note should read something like this:

“Figure based on average hourly earnings (Giving New Zealand Report 2014)