Understanding Different Levels of Volunteering

Tuesday August 17, 2021 comments Tags: volunteers, nonprofit, podcast, accounting,

Any accounting business and tax advice contained in this podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of specific issues. Nor is it a substitute for format information. Nor is it sufficient to avoid tax related penalties. If you have specific questions that you need advice for, be sure to schedule a strategy session and not solely rely on information in this podcast. All right, back to the episode. 

I'm Chyla Graham, I'm the host of The Nonprofit Ace Podcast and I'm a licensed CPA based out of Denver, Colorado. My goal is to help more nonprofit leaders speak comfortably about money and feel like they can ask questions. So last week, if you tuned in, I talked about which volunteer time counts, the people who have professionals designations and are working in their professional capacity, those are the ones that you're going to include in your financial statements. But those aren't the only volunteers. And I do not want you to feel like oh, no, we're never going to be able to talk about the amazing work that people are doing. I do think there is a place for that and that's going to be your annual report. In there, it's going to be a great place to talk about these are hours that were donated to us. 

Do you want to think, not, just about those professionals, but do you have board members who are serving on your board as volunteers, depending on the size of your organization, you're not paying these people to be board members. And so you want to be sure to factor in, we have this many hours of volunteer work to get the governance done. If you've a working board, this is going to be vital. 

Think about we have this many volunteer hours going towards our development. The reason I think this is important is because oftentimes we don't recognize what it takes to keep an organization going. We think, Oh, I can just do this. And I'm talking more for people who are interested in starting nonprofits and haven't yet worked in one. 

So really think as you're putting together your team, what is it going to take looking at other organizations who were poor on their volunteer time and see, wow, it takes this many man hours to do this. How are we also going to do that? How are we going to find the volunteers? How are we going to keep the volunteers engaged? How are we going to let them know that we care? 

So you want to think about how you are going to track the time. Feeding South Florida had a really good donor volunteer, like login and set up so you can log in for your shift. Depending on how many volunteers you have, maybe considering Is it time to go to a larger platform, maybe you have them sign in and out. This is not just good for knowing how many hours but also for safety. If you want to know who's in the facility or not in the facility, this is going to be helpful to have some sort of sheets to say these people came in and went out. 

Another way to use this information to talk about the time is when you're thinking about your 990. In your 990 there's gonna be a space, of course, I brought up the 990 is gonna be space in your program service accomplishments. Or you can talk about the amazing work that you do. And I think this is also a good place to talk about the volunteer hours, because you don't want people to think like, oh, it only costs $5,000 to run this organization. No, it costs us $5,000 and 10,000 volunteer hours.

Being able to factor in the human capital that is required will help you think about what it will take to grow the organization, will you eventually outgrow your usage of volunteers and need to say we have to pay someone so that we have some consistency, we have to pay someone to coordinate the volunteers. So that's just what I want you to think about as you're thinking about how you talk about volunteer time. 

Number one, how are you going to track it? So are you going to use a log sheet? Are you going to have them log in online or sign up for shifts? The other thing you're going to want to think about is where you're going to put it. Are you going to use your annual reports to report on this or does it just need someplace on your site? Is it going to be in your 990? And lastly, as you think about how you're going to talk about volunteer time, think about how is this going to inform your decisions about staffing? 

Are you going to start thinking about, we have most of our volunteers in these specific areas. So when it's time to start hiring, we know we're going to need volunteers who can do operations work or who can do some more program related work or who can do some development related work. So those are just some considerations. I hope this is helpful if it's not let me know because I want to give you content that is helpful for you. I'm Chyla Graham. This has been another episode of The Nonprofit Ace Podcast. Until next time, bye.


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