Doing Good Well
What does (and does not) make sense in the nonprofit world

Chapter 13: Volunteerism

Free Labor Wanted, but Conditions Apply

It is a common perception, both within and outside the nonprofit sector, that volunteers are simply no more than free labor. Such a view underestimates the true value of volunteerism.

When you cut to the chase, it all boils down to engagement – engagement of the community with both the individual volunteer and the nonprofit organization. Many community projects and national programs would not have had the same meaning or level of impact without the participation of volunteers.

In fact, the value of recruiting and managing volunteers can far outweigh their economic value. Indeed, somewhat counter-intuitively, it is sometimes more worthwhile to spend more to get a volunteer than to use salaried staff.