Research Blog

Measurement-related studies, resources, and initiatives

Software Advice’s Volunteer Report: Measuring Volunteer Impacts

Posted by Sadie Miller on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 @ 03:56 PM

Software Advice's Volunteer Impact Report:

I recently read technology research firm Software Advice’s recent donor survey, which collected data from nearly 3,000 nonprofit professionals about measuring the impact of volunteers. The report makes a good case for measurement to prove the value of programs for funders and provide opportunities to improve the volunteer experience. For volunteer managers, acting on volunteer data can lead to increases in volunteer recruitment, engagement, and retention. For fundraisers, reporting on volunteer outputs and outcomes can help drive funding.

What resonated with me was the 45 percent of nonprofits did not collect any data on their volunteers because of the following limitations:

  •     34% lacked resources and tools
  •     29% lacked skills or knowledge
  •     25% lacked time



It makes sense, right? How could you do something without tools, knowledge, or time?

This is the culture of scarcity that plagues nonprofits and limits the effective use of volunteers. Frankly, the tools, knowledge, and time have never been more available, and outcome data has never been more essential for recruiting and retaining volunteers or turning them into donors. As Software Advice found in a recent donor survey, 60 percent of donors want impact stories to see how their first donation is making a difference before making another donation.

I believe that the challenge nonprofits face is not a lack of resources, but a glut of information around measurement. It is so easy to send out a feedback survey to volunteers - they can even answer it on their phones, in real time - that nonprofits get stuck on surveying every volunteer and program stakeholder. The challenge is cutting through the noise and asking one question:

How do you help us reach our Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal?

How to Measure Volunteer Impacts:

Software Advice calls this “proof of progress towards mission goals,” and it acts as the foundation of a measurement approach that is simple, cheap, and easy. Select a few indicators that help measure your progress toward your organization’s BHAG and throw out the rest.

There are three ways to understand how volunteers bring a nonprofit closer to their BHAG:

1. Activities that Increase Revenues

Volunteers, often in board leadership positions, increase revenues through fundraising efforts and grant writing. Company-sponsored volunteers often bring in funding through Dollars for Doers matching grant programs.

2. Activities that Reduce Costs

Volunteer time can be monetized in order to understand the relative value of volunteerism to a nonprofit who would otherwise have to pay for services. You can also monetize efficiency gains for activities that go beyond lending a hand and improve the nonprofit’s capacity to do more with less - improving software, implementing lean management systems, or providing staff professional development.

3. Activities that Promote Mission

This is what we often think of as the ‘real’ metric to measure volunteer impact: did volunteers increase program effectiveness? Nonprofits often use program reach interchangeably with program outcome, but reach is not always synonymous with social impact. Having a BHAG in place enables a nonprofit to begin to map out the connections between their program activities and their end outcomes in a logic model. Once an organization understands where volunteers fit into a program’s logic model, they can focus on the core indicators that track success

The Good News:

You already have the resources you need to begin mapping and measuring the value of volunteerism. Look to volunteers who are as excited to achieve your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals as you are, and let them lead the way.

For more from Software Advice on the 2014 Volunteer Impact report, you can read the full report or see the volunteer impact infographic.

 You can also learn more about our approach to measuring volunteer impacts here.


Tags: Measuring Volunteerism

Tracking Our Green Teams' Impacts at Wells Fargo

Posted by Eric Hilberg on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 03:43 PM

Krista Van Tassel By Krista Van Tassel
Vice President and Environmental Affairs Business Initiatives Manager for Wells Fargo & Co. 

Like many organizations, Wells Fargo has a small environmental affairs team. We rely on a network of environmentally-minded colleagues to ensure we successfully implement our corporate environmental strategy. With more than 70 Wells Fargo Green Teams operating at locations across our corporate footprint, we are fortunate to have a wonderfully engaged and active network to support our work.

Wells Fargo Green TeamLast year, we embarked on a Green Team business planning process that we hoped would help us better align our limited resources and better track our collective progress toward our 2020 sustainability goals. To help us document and verify our financial and environmental impact, we worked with True Impact, a Boston-based organization that provides web tools and consulting support to help corporations measure the social, financial and environmental ROI of their corporate responsibility programs and operations.

Guided by the expertise of Sadie Miller, True Impact created a first-of-its-kind Green Team ROI Tracker, a tool that allows any organization to calculate the impact of Green Team-led office campaigns. We were thankful to work with True Impact on this project as tracking the results of a dispersed network of leaders can be difficult and the Green Team ROI Tracker helped make it easier for us to collect data, calculate results, and streamline reporting.

True Impact also created an accompanying Green Team measurement guide so that we could ensure we use established standards and metrics, particularly around topics like commuting and energy. 

Having just closed our inaugural year of business planning and project reporting, we are pleased to share some of our first Green Team impact numbers.  In 2013, Wells Fargo Green Teams:

Green Team ROI Tracker
  • Helped us achieve our 65% waste reduction goal by hosting a number of recycling events and education campaigns to increase awareness and use of local options, resulting in an estimated 1,000,000+ lbs. of personal and office waste diverted from landfills.
  • Enabled us to increase energy efficiency by 40%, running local energy campaigns that encouraged team members to turn off monitors and change out light bulbs. Green Team-led campaigns in Charlotte, NC and Frederick, MD helped Wells Fargo save an estimated $62,000, as calculated by local estimated kWh savings and energy rates.
  • Green Teams were also instrumental to helping us achieve LEED certification in 9 of our administrative buildings last year. Active teams at each location helped Wells Fargo qualify for a LEED Innovation credit.
  • We also made progress towards our goal to reduce GHG emissions by 35% by 2020 based on our 2008 baseline results. In 2013, Wells Fargo Green Teams helped reduce our Scope3 emissions through commute campaigns, resulting over 1,400 gallons of gas, equating to roughly 12.6 metric tons of CO2.

From running energy efficiency campaigns and recycling programs to managing community volunteer events and supporting our US GBC LEED® certification work, our Wells Fargo Green Teams have helped our company save money and protect the environment through their local efforts. We are now actively sharing our impact numbers and local Green Team accomplishments with company leadership so we can continue to grow our engagement programs.

We invite you to share your comments on our first attempt at tracking and communicating our grassroots impact. We’d also love to hear your ideas on projects that worked well in your office or community so we can continue to share best practices and grow our collective, positive impact on the environment. Please share your thoughts with us on our blog: Wells Fargo Environmental Forum.


About the Author

Krista Van Tassel is vice president and Environmental Affairs business initiatives manager for Wells Fargo & Co.  In this role, Van Tassel heads community and team member engagement for Wells Fargo’s environmental sustainability group. Van Tassel is responsible for leading more than 70 Green Teams, which are employee-led volunteer groups promoting environmental practices within the company and local communities through education, outreach and volunteerism. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program, collaboration with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that seeks to help communities create a more sustainable future through responsible environmental stewardship.  Van Tassel’s work aligns closely with the company’s vision to encourage responsible practices and the integration of environmental policies and processes into company operations and within community engagement programs. You can follow her posts on community and team member engagement through the Wells Fargo Environmental Forum or on twitter @kristavantassel

National Conference on Citizenship, Points of Light, and Bloomberg Release 2013 Civic 50 Survey Results; Recognize America's 50 most community-minded corporations

Posted by Farron Levy on Thu, Dec 05, 2013 @ 05:58 AM

Detailed Survey Findings to be Discussed During Press Teleconference

Today at 1 p.m. EST

Washington, D.C. (December 5, 2013) – Civic engagement is on the rise in corporate America, according to the results of the 2013 Civic 50 survey published today by Bloomberg. More businesses are giving employees the opportunity to work with community organizations and finding that it simultaneously increases their bottom line and employee satisfaction.

The Civic 50 survey, now in its second year, was developed by the nation’s leading experts on civic engagement, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Points of Light and Bloomberg. The survey was administered by True Impact and evaluated by a cross-sector team of independent qualitative evaluators.

The Civic 50 was created to measure corporate civic engagement and recognize top S&P companies that make socially responsible practices and community leadership part of their corporate culture. Corporations recognized as The Civic 50 set the standard for how a company’s time, talent and resources can best be used to improve quality of life in the communities where they do business.

“We are encouraged by the results of The Civic 50 survey, which show that increasingly community engagement is recognized as being core to business success,” said Neil Bush, chair of the Points of Light Board of Directors, and Michael Weiser, board chair, National Conference on Citizenship, in a joint statement. “We hope the best practices of The Civic 50will serve as a valuable resource for other companies that want to transform their business, make a greater commitment to their communities and change lives.”

"Bloomberg is honored to serve as a lead sponsor of The Civic 50 along with valued partners, Points of Light and the National Conference on Citizenship," said Elana Weinstein, Bloomberg's Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement. "We are encouraged by the results of this year's survey and look forward to continuing a partnership which recognizes the tremendous value that corporate institutions bring to the communities in which we live and work."

Today, at 1 p.m. EST, NCoC and Points of Light will host a press teleconference to discuss The Civic 50 survey and its 2013 findings. Media who wish to participate may join using the following conference bridge: (855) 756-7520 Ext. 23302#. The discussion will review case studies that support major survey trends, including:  

  • Commitment to community is being institutionalized as a top priority throughout companies. Ninety-two percent of The Civic 50 can describe board, executive or senior leadership resolutions or directives that institutionalize corporate policies and practices related to community engagement – up from 76 percent in 2012.
  • The majority of The Civic 50 companies, 96 percent, evaluate the business impact of civic engagement on at least one aspect of their bottom line, such as increased sales, brand loyalty or employee recruitment. In 2012, this number was 86 percent.
  • Employees are given more opportunities to volunteer and 88 percent of companies are including community involvement as a component of employee performance reviews, up slightly from 84 percent in 2012.

The 2013 Civic 50, in alphabetical order, are:

  • 3M
  • Abbott
  • AbbVie
  • Adobe Systems
  • Aetna
  • Alcoa
  • Allstate
  • Altria Group
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Apollo Education Group
  • AT&T
  • Bank of America
  • Baxter International
  • Campbell Soup
  • Capital One Financial
  • Citigroup
  • Comcast
  • Devon Energy
  • Discover Financial Services
  • Dr Pepper Snapple Group
  • Ecolab
  • FedEx
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
  • Gap
  • General Electric
  • Hasbro
  • Hershey
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • KeyCorp
  • Life Technologies
  • McGraw Hill Financial
  • Microsoft
  • Morgan Stanley
  • NRG Energy
  • Pacific Gas & Electric Company
  • Raytheon
  • Sigma-Aldrich
  • Southwest Airlines
  • State Street
  • Total System Services
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • United Parcel Service
  • Valero Energy
  • Viacom
  • Wal-Mart Stores
  • Western Union
  • Weyerhaeuser

The Civic 50 applicants were evaluated and accrued points based on several criteria, including the amount of financial and human resources applied to civic improvement; whether internal and external resources are used to maximize community impact; how a company’s community engagement activities align with its business interests; how broadly community engagement is supported and institutionalized within a company’s policies, systems and incentives; and how a company measures the social and business value of its community engagement programs.

These criteria are organized into five dimensions. The top five highest scoring Civic 50companies are ranked in each dimension:

Organizational Commitment
1. Morgan Stanley
2. Capital One Financial
3. Bank of America
4. Apollo Education Group
5. Alcoa
Strategic Investment
1. Apollo Education Group
2. General Electric
3. Bank of America
4. Western Union
5. IBM
Business Integration
1. FedEx
2. Raytheon
3. Hewlett-Packard
4. Capital One Financial
5. Campbell Soup
Fostering Civic Culture
1. Aetna
2. Hewlett-Packard
3. Morgan Stanley
4. Western Union
5. Campbell Soup
Measuring Impact
1. Hewlett-Packard
2. Morgan Stanley
3. Capital One Financial
4. Hershey
5. Raytheon

This year’s Civic 50 were also ranked by industry and market capitalization.

Rankings by industry:

1. AT&T
2. Viacom
3. Comcast
1. Morgan Stanley
2. Capital One Financial
3. Bank of America
4. Western Union
5. Citigro
1. Sigma-Aldrich
2. Alcoa
3. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
4. 3M
Consumer Discretionary
1. Gap
2. Hasbro
3. Apollo Education Group
4. Southwest Airlines
5. Ecolab
Health Care
1. UnitedHealth Group
2. Aetna
3. AbbVie
4. Life Technologies
5. Abbott
1. Hewlett-Packard
2. Intel
3. IBM
4. Microsoft
5. McGraw Hill Financial
Consumer Staples
1. Campbell Soup
2. Hershey
3. Altria Group
4. Dr Pepper Snapple Group
5. Wal-Mart Stores
1. General Electric
2. FedEx
3. Raytheon
4. United Parcel Service
Energy and Utilities
1. Pacific Gas & Electric
2. Devon Energy
3. NRG Energy
4. Valero Energy
Rankings by market capitalization:
Large Cap
1. Morgan Stanley
2. Capital One Financial
3. Hewlett-Packard
4. Bank of America
5. Gap
Mid Cap
1. Campbell Soup
2. Western Union
3. Hasbro
4. Apollo Education Group
5. Hershey

For more information about The Civic 50 organizers, please visit the National Conference on Citizenship at, Points of Light at and Bloomberg at A detailed look at The Civic 50 rankings is available on the Bloomberg Best (and Worst) site. More information, as well as an infographic that highlights The Civic 50 and this year’s survey trends, is available at


Thinking about impact for 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

Posted by Susan G. Pollara on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 @ 10:37 AM

Where were you on September 11, 2001?  How has your life and community changed since then?  The upcoming 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance can be a time of profound reflection, and also an opportunity to think of service as a way to repair and improve our world.

Our role in this sector gives us a unique perspective as we evaluate CSR and volunteer programs on a daily basis. We are fortunate to work with clients and partners who, in inspiring commitments to community investment, are finding new and better ways to improve the world through service every day.  We’d like to share with you five things to consider when thinking about the impact of your own service programs.

  1. Focus on outcomes. The number of hours served, dollars contributed, and employees engaged in service are important to understand a company’s level of commitment to a cause. To understand the value of those investments however, it’s essential to examine the outcomes of service -- how a project changed the lives of community stakeholders, volunteers and beneficiaries.  Whatever types of community investment you’re making -- whether packing care packages for deployed military or providing hands on help in a local community, thinking about what constitutes a successful outcome of your work, and creating accountability measures (e.g., a brief survey or report back from a nonprofit partner) is a simple way to ensure your good intentions are translated to social value.
  2. Start small to measure big. Measurement can be daunting if you try to measure all components of your program. By prioritizing impact (results) over process (how you achieve those results), you can quickly narrow your focus to those indicators that really matter. Try starting with a simple survey of your nonprofit partner to understand the impact of your team’s service: for example, how many more people they could serve with the same or fewer resources, or how the service improved success rates?  Then, perhaps the next year, try rolling out a measurement program that incorporates measuring the impact of the service on things like skill development or engagement.
  3. Learn from others.  Corporations, nonprofits, and individuals are doing some great work across the social sector.  One way to learn from others is to research non-profits through Great Nonprofits by reading the reviews of nonprofits in your area.   Or, review the case studies of companies like Timberland, UPS, and Pfizer who have used measurement to improve the impact of their CSR programs.
  4. Listen to your stakeholders.  Through conversation, small focus groups, or the collection of qualitative survey data, you can learn what’s important to your stakeholders.  By taking the time to understand their motivations, goals, and needs, the volunteer programs you develop can be crafted to best serve those interests, and generate the greatest value value for all participants.
  5. Measure, refine and tweak, measure again.  It’s our mantra here. The programs with the most impact on their communities, their participants, and their businesses don’t look at measurement as a one time endeavor.  It’s an integral part of their programs.  Find out what works so you can do more of it; find out what doesn’t work, so you can intervene and improve.
Whether as a group, or as an individual, your participation during the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance can make a significant impact in our world.  To find opportunities to get involved, please click here.  

How Important is the Social Cause to Volunteer Engagement?

Posted by Farron Levy on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 @ 11:15 PM

Because we know how much metrics matter, we love using data to help inform decision making and improve employee volunteer programs. By understanding what drives value, performance metrics enable our clients to make a bigger impact on their communities, their employees, and on their business.

Recently, we’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates employees to become, and stay, engaged with corporate volunteer programs. For example, do employees report higher satisfaction if they care deeply about a social cause, even if the volunteer activity is inconvenient or unpleasant?

In our Volunteerism ROI Tracker, we ask employee volunteers to indicate the key benefits of their recent volunteerism. Across a sample of 28,000 volunteers, 93% of employees who cared deeply about the cause they volunteered for were highly satisfied, compared to 77% who did not report the cause as a primary motivator for volunteering. Further, our results suggest that cause commitment drives satisfaction more than the convenience of the event, how well it was managed, or opportunities for networking and socializing. Commitment to cause is as influential as a volunteer’s enjoyment of the activity as a driver of event satisfaction.

Bottom line: when employees like what they are doing, and the cause for which they are doing it, they are more satisfied with the event. Rocket science? Not really. But there are important implications of this data for corporate volunteer managers.

Volunteer Benefits

High Satisfaction rate with reported benefit

High Satisfaction rate without reported benefit

% difference

The activity - I particularly enjoy performing this service or activity




The cause - I care deeply about it / am particularly proud to be associated with it




The management - I found the project particularly well organized and run




New skills/experiences - I came away with meaningful personal or professional development gains




The people - networking or socializing with others was a key benefit




The convenience - the timing or structure made volunteering easy for me




N = 28,084

If one of your company’s  goals is to support employees’ passions, then understanding the causes your employees care about, and seeking non-profit partners whose work supports those causes, should be on your To Do list.   Partnering with these organizations to create a continuum of events, from hands-on to skills-based, will give your employees options to use their time and talents for causes they care about.  And, when they care about the causes, they are more likely to stay engaged with the organization and therefore make a bigger impact.

But if you are a company that has very specific, strategic goals around the causes your company supports, you should have a different To Do list.  In order to build commitment and participation rates, you need buy-in from your employees.  You have to clearly, and passionately, communicate to your employees why your company has committed to specific causes, so they can become passionate about the cause as well.

In Adam Grant’s book Give and Take, he provides an example of college fundraisers who -- after personally meeting the students that had benefitted from the scholarships they were raisng money for -- were significantly more successful at fundraising than those who did not meet the beneficiaries.   When people are connected to the cause they are more motivated to participate in a variety of volunteering activities to support that cause.

Key findings:

  • 92% of volunteers who report the cause as a key benefit of their volunteer experience report high event satisfaction, compared to 77% of those that do not report cause as a key benefit.
  • 94% of volunteers who found the project well organized and run report high satisfaction, compared to 85% of volunteers who did not report management as a key benefit.
  • There was no substantial difference between satisfaction rates of volunteers who did and did not report that convenience was a key benefit of the event.


Encouraging skills‐based volunteerism: Tools to Scale Pro Bono

Posted by Sadie Miller on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 @ 09:44 PM

taproot common impact true impact resized 600


During the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service, I was lucky enough to co-lead a roundtable on encouraging skills‐based volunteerism with Danielle Holly, the Executive Director of Common Impact, and Lindsay Firestone, the Director of Advisory Services at the Taproot Foundation. During the roundtable, we shared a set of resources to help participants build, grow, and measure the impact of skills-based and pro bono service. Danielle and Lindsay shared their work on the Readiness Roadmap, the product of a collaborative partnership between Taproot, Common Impact, Points of Light, and Capitol One.

Those of you who missed the conference have access to the full resources below. Designed for companies across many stages of their development, they will help you:  

    • Make the business case to build the internal support for a skills-based volunteer program
    • Design a program that aligns with your company’s culture, its business & community goals
    • Find nonprofit organizations that are ready to engage in skills-based projects
    • Manage the program to ensure a great experience for your employees and partners
    • Measure the program’s success across the metrics that matter to your company
Thanks to Lindsay and Danielle for sharing their knowledge and expertise!

Making the Business Case

Designing a Skills-Based Volunteer Program

Finding the Right Nonprofit Partners

Managing Skills-Based Volunteer Programs

Measuring the Impact

Case Studies


Tags: CSR Measurement Tools, Skills-Based Volunteering, Pro Bono

CSR Measurement Tools, Simplified

Posted by Susan G. Pollara on Wed, May 29, 2013 @ 12:14 PM

7 year olds and CSR measurementThis morning, my seven-year-old son asked me what my job was.   When I launched into my elevator pitch of “We provide technology tools and services to help measure and evaluate the impact of CSR programs,” I could see his eyes glaze over.  

So I took a breath and started again.  “Remember how we volunteered to build the playground? And how you made blankets to help the babies at the East Trenton Center?  A lot of companies do volunteering.  And we help them understand if their volunteering made things better.”

He nodded and I could see the wheels turning in his seven-year-old brain.  Then he asked “how can you tell if it did make things better?”

 “Well, we ask their volunteers questions and then give them a scorecard.  It’s like a report card.”

 Now this he understood.  “But what if they get a bad grade?”

“We help them, we’re like tutors.  We help them get better.”

 He smiled. “Cool.  That’s a good job.”

 It is a good job.


Here are 6 reasons I love my job:

  1. Our technology is easy to implement.  It doesn’t take 6 weeks, or 6 months to launch.  It takes about an hour.  Really.
  2. The True Impact Scorecard gives practical results. We can see which activities made a big impact, and which activities fell flat.   Through clear analytics and reporting, it’s easy to see and understand your programs’ impact.
  3. It’s affordable.   Your departments are like small non-profits operating within large corporations.  We want you to you spend your budgets doing good in this world.
  4. We work with any system.  No matter if you use a vendor to manage your volunteer program, or duct tape and paper clips – our tools work and our commitment to industry collaboration ensure easy partnerships and integration points.
  5. It’s not just about the numbers.  Yes,  we can measure the impact of your programs (volunteering to green teams to giving), but now what?  It’s “the now what”  that really makes a difference.  We work with you to set goals and develop practical, real-world strategies to meet those goals. Then, through on-going support, we help keep you on track to meeting those goals.
  6. It’s incredibly rewarding. Empowering our clients to make decisions based on metrics and impact so that their programs can make more positive change in the world is incrediably rewarding. Because, when all is said and done, that’s a pretty big deal.  Even in the eyes of a seven year old.

Have you seen our tools lately?  We’d love to show you a demo. Give us a call

Tags: Measuring Volunteerism, CSR Measurement Tools, Impact Measurement

High‐value skilled‐based volunteerism: Pfizer Global Health Fellows

Posted by Sadie Miller on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 12:15 PM

Pfizer Global Health Fellows (GHF) is a sector-leading international employee volunteer program that places Pfizer employees with international development organizations in key emerging markets. Over the last decade, more than 300 Pfizer employees have improved supply chains, business operations, and health prevention in partnership with 40 development organizations.

Pfizer's long-term impact

Through the True Impact pro bono management platform, Pfizer collects post-project and 12 months post-project data from NGO partners and fellows to determine the long-term impacts of the GHF experience, finding:

  • Immediate and long-term NGO capacity gains
  • High employee and partner satisfaction
  • Long term employee skill and leadership development
  • Strategic business and corporate brand benefits

Pfizer partner long-term capacity gains:

NGO capacity gains

Click here for a case study on the social, employee, and business impacts of Pfizer GHF.

Strategic partnerships

Pfizer commits to a two-year cycle of Fellowship placements with each organization. Through continuity and building on past Fellowship work, the program is able to develop longer-term community impacts. Focusing on fewer partners and specific health challenges in the 2-year cycle also enables Pfizer to be simultaneously relevant to community needs and the expertise of Pfizer employees.

An example of the GHF program’s partnership model is the six-year GHF project with Mothers to Mothers, an organization committed to reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV through education and empowerment. The first Pfizer Fellows joined M2M when it was just a 4-person team, working to develop its revenue stream and infrastructure. Today, Mothers to Mothers employs 1,000 mentor mothers with HIV in seven sub-Saharan African countries.

Alumni support

After 10 years, the GHF alumni have become a part of the extended program team, supporting Fellows in the field, reviewing initial applications, and rating top prospects. In order to connect back to the business with a formal platform, GHF alumni formed the Alumni Business Network. The Network organizes a leadership speaking series, network events, and quarterly newsletter to promote high‐value skilled‐based volunteerism and leverage their Fellowship experience back to the business.

Click here to download the full Pfizer Global Health Fellows case study.

Tags: Measuring social impact, Skills-Based Volunteering

At a Glance: Volunteerism ROI Tracker Social and Business Impacts

Posted by Farron Levy on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 09:35 AM


Volunteer ROI Tracker Findings Graphic resized 600

For the full Volunteer ROI Tracker  report, click here.

For more information on how the Volunteerism ROI Tracker collects social and business impact data, or to participate, click here.

Measuring the Social Value of Volunteers (economic value to society)

Posted by Sadie Miller on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 10:18 AM

The social value of volunteerism can be measured in terms of two distinct impacts on nonprofit beneficiaries: avoided cost and increased capacity.


Avoided cost.  Volunteers help nonprofits save money by providing services for free that the nonprofits would otherwise have to pay for.  You can monetize the total value of these services by multiplying the total number of reported service hours for each volunteer activity by an hourly rate for each activity type: we use the Bureau of Labor Statistics as our source for this information (e.g., Food preparation and sorting is $11.28/hour, Computer networking support is $27.90/hr., etc.).


The following benchmarking data (from our most recent dataset of 29 Volunteerism ROI Tracker companies) includes the overall average value per hour of each organization’s volunteerism portfolio.  So, companies with a higher percentage of their volunteer activities dedicated to high-value activities do better in the ranking than those companies with smaller percentages of high-value activities.

overall social value

The graphic below illustrates the distribution of volunteer activities performed across all of the participating companies.  The majority of these activities (by hours served) included traditional, or “hands on” volunteerism, with relatively low value per hour.  Skilled-based volunteerism, which on average had three times the value per hour of traditional volunteerism, made up only 15.7% of all volunteer activities analyzed.

market value volunteers

* Excludes activities classified as “other”

This table illustrates heavy weighting of participants’ portfolios towards traditional volunteerism, as compared to higher-value skilled-based volunteerism:

> Column 1: the range of activities recorded by volunteers

> Column 2: the total hours performed of each activity

> Column 3: the value per hour of each activity

Increased capacity.  Volunteers can help improve nonprofit capacity in three ways:

  • Increasing efficiency (i.e., enabling the nonprofit to use fewer resources -- in terms of time or money -- in performing its operations or delivering services)

  • Increasing effectiveness (i.e., improving the success rate of the nonprofit’s services)

  • Increasing reach (i.e., enabling the nonprofit to serve a greater number of beneficiaries)


You can measure these impacts in terms of resulting resource savings or increase in successful outcomes, and also monitor how frequently these effects occur among your volunteer projects.  The following graphic illustrates how frequently volunteers reported capacity gains across our benchmarking group:



3 EfficiencyEffectiveness Chart resized 600

Together with the economic value of the volunteer services provided, the following table summarizes the range of these benchmark results:


social value chart

N = 44,053 respondents, 29 companies

Select Findings/Best Practices.  Together, these results strongly support the current trend in the sector towards encouraging more skills-based volunteerism (i.e., where volunteers apply professional-level skills) as a way to increase social impact.  Additional findings:

  • Avoided cost.  The same number of hours devoted to skills-based volunteerism can generate over 500% the value of traditional volunteerism (i.e., where volunteers serve as “an extra pair of hands”).

  • Increased capacity.  Skilled volunteers were more likely to report instances of helping nonprofits to increase their efficiency, effectiveness, or reach:


efficiency effectiveness social gains

Tags: Measuring social return on investment, Measuring Volunteerism

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