Measurement & Assessment

Valuing volunteer contributions to charities

Few charities communicate quantitative assessments of their volunteers’ contributions, leading to an under-valuation of this key resource. New, more informed methods help charities provide more than a thank you to volunteers in their annual reports, however, they require charities to commit to valuing the impact of their essential volunteers.

Staff and volunteers’ perceptions of the volunteer programme: an alternative use of the Net Benefits Index

The Net Benefits Index was developed to measure the performance of volunteer programmes. This article extends the NBI by demonstrating its use as an internal programme evaluation tool within two health non-profit organisations. It also highlights reasons for divergent scores between volunteers and staff and the improvements that can be made to a volunteer programme’s effectiveness as a result of measurement.

Volunteers: Valuable but invisible to accountants

Volunteer input is vital for achieving the organisational objectives of third-sector service-providers, but volunteers are often invisible in these organisations’ financial reports. This paper acknowledges valuation challenges and assess models developed by Mook et al, (2003) for usefulness. It analyses volunteer effort in New Zealand early childhood education centres to extrapolate a more informed understanding of the cost of childcare services.

Reimagining Volunteering

New Zealand Red Cross conducted research on Reimaging Volunteering. The findings present a refreshed approach to volunteering within New Zealand Red Cross. Furthermore, the research outlines volunteering research including the definition of volunteering; statistics; motivation, and barriers to volunteering particularly focusing on different ethnicities and ages; trends in volunteering; new emerging types of volunteering; and finally volunteer management comprising recruitment, training, and retention in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Measuring Volunteering: In giving, how much do we receive? The social value of volunteering.
Speech given by Andrew G Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England. A Pro Bono Economics lecture to the Society of Business Economists, London 9 September 2014.

Here the Chief Economist (in 2014) of the Bank of England gave a 32 page speech about the social value of volunteering in England. He discusses volunteering and its contribution to society.

Profiling Volunteerism: An Alberta Non-profit/Voluntary Sector Initiative Discussion Paper of the Value and Contribution of Alberta Volunteers
Government of Alberta, September 2020.

This report provides a summary of the state of volunteering in Alberta, Canada. 50% of adult Albertans are engaged in formal volunteering, which is higher than Canada’s national average of 44%. If informal volunteering is also considered, 70% of Albertans report helping someone outside of their immediate family. Volunteers contribute $5.6 billion per year in terms of the value of time spent volunteering for non-profit organisations. The critical role, value, and contribution of volunteers in the non-profit sector are further highlighted with interesting statistics and evidence. The report also provides important insights into key considerations, volunteer trends, volunteer motivations, and multiple actors of the voluntary sector in Alberta.

What is the Future for NGO Governance?
Centre for Social Impact in partnership with the Superdiversity Institute for Law, Policy and Business. August 2019.

A report into the future of governance for New Zealand’s 114,000 (NGOs) has identified a need for considerable investment into NGO governance capabilities. NGO boards are facing a range of opportunities and challenges now and into the future. This report outlines the critical ones. 

Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector
The Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector
Senate, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. June 2019.

The Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector held extensive consultations with charities, non-profit, and volunteer groups to learn how Canada could better support their important work. The committee makes a number of practical recommendations to address those issues and more.

Time well spent: A national survey on the volunteer experience
Davies, John; Dobbs, Joy; Hornung, Lisa; Jochum, Veronique; McGarvey, Amy. National Council for Voluntary Organisations, January 2019.

This report analyses the findings of a nation-wide survey on volunteering, conducted in the UK, of more than 10,000 people, by YouGov for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). “It provides the most detailed analysis of volunteering for a decade.” 

True to label: Measuring value in the non-profit sector in Aotearoa New Zealand
Page, John.  Sport New Zealand, June 2018.

This is a major research report looking at how value is measured in the non-profit sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. It looks at 55 organisations including 15 sport and recreation bodies, examining publicly available documents. It asks how an interested party can tell what has been achieved using time and money provided by others. 

Recognising volunteering in 2017: Summary report

Volunteer Canada, 2017.

This report approaches the question: How do we recognise volunteering? Through the likes of social media and technology, the way Canadians interact with community organisations has changed, and this paper seeks to investigate that. Excerpt: “Four key areas where individuals choose to advance social good outside of formal volunteering activities: consumerism, technology and data, investing and business owner practices.”

The New Zealand cause report: Shape of the charity sector

McLeod, John. JBWere, March 2017.

This report covers two main areas: first, the bigger picture of what the not-for-profit sector is, where it fits in a New Zealand and global context, and more significantly, the changes seen over the last decade and the implications of this into the future; secondly, a close look at the individual charity sub sectors. One of the most important aspects of the report is to demonstrate how important the not-for-profit sector is to New Zealand society.

Outcomes, accountability and community & voluntary organisations in New Zealand: Holy Grail, Black hole or wholly possible?
Nowland-Foreman, Garth.  Centre for Not for Profit Leadership (Auckland), 2016.

This paper suggests there are both practical and conceptual problems relying on an Outcomes approach, including counter-productive incentives, and perverse threats to an organisations actual learning and on-going improvement. The paper concludes with what, instead, might be useful and realistic for both funders and community & voluntary organisations to do in the face of these increasing demands for an Outcomes focus.

Volunteering, Happiness and Public Policy

Binder, Martin; Freytag, Andreas. Journal of Economic Psychology, 2012.

This study builds on previous studies demonstrating positive relationships between volunteering and subjective well-being. The study uses a large-scale data set (the British Household Panel Survey), takes into account personality traits, establishes a control group using matching estimators, and controls for extremely happy or unhappy individuals using quantile regressions. The study therefore delivers a robust, causal demonstration of the impact of regular volunteering on well-being and shows that the positive effects of volunteering increase over time.

Manual on the measurement of volunteer work

International Labour Office (Switzerland), 2011.

This article presents a data collection strategy for measuring volunteer work that is cost-effective and reliable, a definition of volunteer work, a measurement methodology to identify volunteer workers and their characteristics, and an estimation methodology to value their work. 

Fisher, Craig. Chartered Accountants Journal of New Zealand, April 2010.

This paper deals with the need to measure, value and record volunteer input in the annual financial statements of charities or other not-for-profit entities. It outlines the key principles and questions involved in doing so, then discusses how to determine the value of a volunteer. Finally, it considers possible challenges.

An online copy of this document is currently unavailable.

The History of the Non-profit Sector in New Zealand
Margaret Tennant, Mike O’Brien & Jackie Sanders, Wellington: Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector, 2008.

This book outlines the history of the non-profit sector in New Zealand from the pre-colonial period to today. It gives an international context and offers some future issues from the past.