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Can I Count My Volunteers' Hours as an In-Kind Contribution?

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Volunteers discussing ideas. Chris Strong/Getty Images
Question: Can I Count My Volunteers' Hours as an In-Kind Contribution?

A reader recently asked:

"The subject of in-kind donations and volunteer labor evaluation came up recently. We talked about how, or even if, we could reflect the value of thousands of hours of volunteerism on our P&L. I know that in-kind donations can be included in the P&L as long as they are off-set as both income and expense. But can the same be done for volunteer hours?"
Answer:

I put this question out to my readers and here is what they said:

"I’ve definitely put the value of volunteer hours into budgets for grant proposals. It’s a wonderful tool to show how grant dollars will be leveraged to achieve greater “bang for the buck” (i.e., running a $75,000 program on $25,000 in cash).
"We do not use the value of volunteer hours in the budget we use for running the organization. However, we are a separately-incorporated chapter of a national organization which gives us guidelines on the value of volunteer hours for various volunteer activities, even for board of director duties. These values are included in our annual report, which is what is used for fund-raising, etc."
"Absolutely. You can book the value of volunteer time. There is a national organization that determines the hourly value of volunteer time (Independent Sector). Volunteer hours are booked as in-kind contributions. They can be used as a match for federal grants. Just like in-kind gifts, they must be offset on your PL statement."
"I am an accountant working for non profit organization. We do have volunteers in our program. We value the volunteers' contribution as an in-kind contribution (leverage fund) in the income and expenditure account on separate columns. We do not pay cash for their contribution, however we count their actual cost on the basis of their rate. The daily/hourly rate would be based on pay history. This will help us to calculate the actual project cost."

Where to Get More Information

Points of Light has a Economic Impact Of Volunteers Calculator. Just fill in the blanks for an estimate of the value of your volunteers' time.

Independent Sector calculates the dollar value of volunteer time. They also have the value broken down by state.

According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the value of volunteer services can be used on financial statements – including statements for internal and external purposes, grant proposals, and annual reports – only if a volunteer is performing a specialized skill for a nonprofit.

The general rule to follow when determining if contributed services meet the FASB criteria for financial forms is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated.

Accounting specialists may visit FASB’s website for regulations on use of the value of volunteer time on financial forms.

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