Friday, October 21, 2011

Calculating the ROI of volunteer engagement for internal performance monitoring

While working with leaders of volunteers at conferences, or one on one, I have repeatedly heard that the contribution of volunteer time is highly valued; but that this value has been difficult to measure.

There are a variety of ways to measure the effect of volunteer engagement, and each approach has its own specific purpose. Some methods look at the benefits that volunteering brings to the volunteers themselves. Some look at the monumental vision of how volunteerism shapes a community – or bigger yet, a society. Many approaches look only at wage replacement value in relationship to the number of volunteer hours contributed.

This last method, although perhaps helpful in the past, has become less useful as the sector has come to recognize volunteerism as something more than just hours. The Mission Points ROI model treats the number of volunteer hours consumed by an organization, as an expense. Viewed as expenditure, we would value volunteer time in the same way that we value money: we would spend only to the degree necessary, to best reach the mission of our organization. Consuming more volunteer hours might mean more gets accomplished – or it may mean volunteer time is being wasted.

The Mission Points ROI model allows us to see volunteer contributions as an expense, and in turn encourages us to manage our incredibly valuable volunteer resources more effectively.

I would like to thank the many conference participants that have helped shape the vision of the Mission Points model through offering their input during workshops and presentations. I would also like to thank some very knowledgeable individuals who have, in one way or another, supported my pursuit of developing this model, and/or contributed directly to it. This includes Susan Ellis, Steve McCurley, Andy Fryar, Martin Cowling, Rick Lynch and Rob Jackson.

Volunteer2 is happy to announce the launch of another free online resource for the volunteer sector: the Mission Points ROI calculator, designed to help you measure the Return On Investment associated with engaging volunteers at your organization. I invite you to explore this concept further, by downloading the Mission Points ROI manual, and giving the concept a try at If this sounds interesting to you, please feel free to share this information with your peers. As we develop the Mission Points ROI model further, we welcome as many suggestions as possible in order to improve and refine it as a vital Volunteer Management resource.