Working out the economic cost of volunteering

It is possible to work out the economic value that volunteers make to your organisation by multiplying the total volunteer hours by an hourly wage rate.

This could be the national minimum wage or median hourly wage (obtain the first from  and the second from Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) available at ) The minimum wage probably underestimates the value, while the median wage may overestimate it. You can calculate both and present them as a range, or decide on a reasonable figure between the two.  Volunteering England provide the following templates:

Templates for calculating volunteer value

Using a single wage rate




Total number
of volunteers

Average hours per week per volunteer

Weeks worked per year

A x B x C
= Total volunteer hours

wage rate (£)

D x E = Total volunteer value (£)

Using different volunteer roles and wage rates



Volunteer role

paid job

Hourly wage rate for B (£)

Total hours
in A

C x D = Total value of A (£)


Calculating volunteer costs

The Institute of Volunteering Research (IVR) publish a guide VIVA (Volunteer Investment and Value Audit) which enables organisations to accurately measure the economic impact of volunteering by examining their individual situations. VIVA also estimates an hourly wage rate based on the type of volunteering work being undertaken. For further information

VIVA contains the following table which is is helpful in calculating the costs of involving volunteers.  To work out the economic value:

Category of expenditure

Cost details

Amount (£)

1. Volunteer services manager/co-ordinator

Annual salary

2. Volunteer manager's assistant/secretary

Annual salary

3. Other paid staff

% of annual salary corresponding to % of time spent on managing or supporting volunteers

4. Advertising and recruitment

Cost of printing leaflets, posters etc.,
and of producing and placing advertisements

5. Induction and training

Costs of materials, lunches, childcare,

staff time (unless already included, above)

and fees paid for external training

6. Volunteers' expenses

Travel and out of pocket expenses reimbursed to volunteers

7. Administration, support and recognition

Volunteer newsletters, meetings, socials, parties, awards, certificates, office expenses and other non-salary costs

8. Supplies and equipment

Clothing, badges, materials and equipment provided free to volunteers for their volunteering

9. Food and accommodation

Costs of drinks, food and accommodation provided free while volunteering

10. Volunteer insurance

Cost of the volunteer insurance policy or a percentage of the organisation's overall insurance policy, to cover volunteers

11. Volunteer-related building costs or expenses

Rent and utility costs where buildings are maintained solely for volunteers

Total annual expenditure