Recognizing the value of volunteers

Benefits of volunteering for the volunteer and the organization.

A volunteer and a youth smiling.
4-H youth, Skully, and Joanne Botte, MSU Extension 4-H volunteer, catching a ride to the Canopy Walk at Hidden Lake Gardens. Photo by Janelle Stewart, MSU Extension.

Michigan State University Extension adult 4-H volunteers were amongst millions of volunteers recognized for their contributions during National Volunteer Week in April. National Volunteer Week is about recognizing the work of volunteers nationwide who give their time, talent and energy to improve the quality of life for others.

Volunteers are a tremendous resource, especially if it is looked at in terms of hours given and the value of that time. According to 2022 data from Independent Sector, the value of volunteer time in Michigan is $30.15 per hour. Independent Sector calculates the value of an hour of volunteer time based on hourly earnings for private non-farm and non-managerial occupations, plus 15.4% increase for value of fringe benefits. Nationally, the hourly rate in the United States is estimated as low as $14.87 per hour in Puerto Rico to $50.00 per hour in the District of Columbia. According to Volunteering In America, 2.33 million people in Michigan volunteer their time for a total of 185.9 million hours of volunteer service with those services valued at an estimated $4.4 billion.

Volunteers are frequently identified as the backbone of many service-oriented organizations. The Michigan 4-H Youth Development program is no exception. With over 8,000 volunteers across the state contributing to the success and expansion of the 4-H Youth Development program, volunteers are very much an intricate part of Michigan 4-H.

In addition to the services volunteers provide to the 4-H youth development program, there are numerous benefits. Overall, program quality is improved and strengthened through volunteer involvement. Volunteers bring unique perspectives and diversity to programs. The passion, support and involvement that they give are some of the volunteer’s most valuable contributions.

Volunteers themselves also benefit from their efforts. Volunteers develop greater self-confidence and expand their leadership abilities. In many instances, employers see volunteer experience as a valuable asset in the work environment. Volunteers are provided with opportunities to share skills or knowledge with others. Through these experiences, volunteers often gain satisfaction and experience from working with others.

Through the support of more than 8,000 adult volunteers, the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program provides an informal educational opportunity that helps to achieve its mission of helping youth thrive in a complex and changing world. To learn more about how you can volunteer with the Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

National Volunteer Week is an excellent way for volunteer managers to recognize the hard work, dedication and commitment that volunteers offer organizations. Even though National Volunteer Week has passed for this year, organizations should look for additional ways to recognize and appreciate volunteers all year long.

“Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless." Anonymous

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