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Calculating an Organization’s Social Return on Investment in Volunteers

Calculating an Organization’s Social Return on Investment in Volunteers

This quarter’s Research to Practice reviews an article that presents a way to measure the social returns on investment in volunteer recruiting, training, and management. Called Social Return on Investment, or SROI, it is a type of cost-benefit analysis that compares the present value of social outcomes created by the organization to the value of monetary and in-kind resources (including volunteer contributions) required to generate those outcomes.

As reviewer Laurie Mook explains, funders and government agencies have expressed great interest in the idea of calculating SROIs for organizations. Mook looks specifically at a case study by Italian researchers who apply this process to the volunteer program of a summer camp that offers recreational therapy for children with serious illnesses. The researchers end up with a SROI calculated as a ratio between the total present value of impacts on volunteers as well as on services, and the total costs of inputs required to recruit, train, and manage volunteers. Mook also examines the methodology as a potential tool to focus attention on the socio-economic impact created by organizations, for volunteers themselves, and for society-at-large. 

To read the full article

Tue, 04/14/2015
This is an incredible article. I think in the US we get so focused on the volunteer value $ rate - for grants and in-kind contributions - that we forget to look at the larger ROI, How much is it costing us to do this project/campaign, how many volunteers will we get for how many hours, is it worth it? And we hardly ever focus on the SROI - which as Volunteer Managers and Directors is really what we SHOULD be calculating. It's about more than the $ amount, but what's the bigger picture and impact of the volunteer program and efforts. And rarely do we ask the staff what they gain by working with or managing volunteers, we focus so much on volunteer surveys and just making sure they are happing and getting by. Great, eye opening article and I think this concept and method could be really useful for finding funding for a volunteer program or defending the importance of a program in times of budget cuts.