Giving Compass' Take:

• Jerome Tennille reminds philanthropic leaders that the only way to earn the value of volunteers is with cognizant engagement.

• Tennille reminds us that volunteers are not free. Why is it so important to invest in the value of volunteers to make an organization functional? What are you doing to make volunteering in your organization more accessible?

• Learn more about the unparalleled value of volunteers.

While many acknowledge the value of volunteers, the overriding behaviors in society say otherwise. Why? Because there are myths that exist about volunteers. Sadly, I’ve felt this in my career working in both the non-profit sector and in corporate social responsibility (CSR). I suspect I’m not alone. But I reckon only those who have directly engaged volunteers as their primary daily function truly understand. And while some will automatically be appalled at the mere existence of this post, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Why you ask? Simply because one of the most widely believe myths plaguing the non-profit sector is that volunteers come with no expenses or costs.

There’s a reason those who live in poverty don’t volunteer. While volunteers give their time without an expectation of a paycheck, there’s often a cost associated with their ability to do so. I’m not referring to fees paid directly to the non-profit. What I’m referring to are the little details many don’t account for.

Volunteers either come with a cost that’s out of that volunteer’s pocket or incurred by the hosting organization. In instances where volunteers incur all these costs, they’re essentially spending money to volunteer. If out of that volunteer’s pocket, it could act as a barrier standing between them and serving that non-profit. If a volunteer can’t afford the associated costs, it’ll present a barrier making volunteering inaccessible.

If there are tremendous costs acting as barriers to your volunteers, conduct a cost analysis to understand all the related expenses and build the case. Then have an honest discussion with your major funders.

Read the full article about the value of volunteers by Jerome Tennille at Medium.