The organization IndependentSector.org released a document identifying the value of volunteers in America. The study indicates that the average value of a volunteer’s time was $20.85 per hour in 2009.
According to the report, that number was as high as $28.52 here in New York State in 2008.
The question is, how do we apply that dollar figure to the volunteer fire service in such a way that our stakeholders truly understand our value?
Certainly, on a national basis, if we were to multiply that number times the quantity of volunteer firefighters across the country and the average number of hours they spend volunteering — the number would be staggering.
Or would it?
I know that in our county alone, it’s estimated that volunteer firefighters save our taxpayers more than $203 million dollars a year in comparison to providing the same service with paid personnel (According to data extrapolated from a 2005 study initiated by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York.)
But are such large numbers just numbing to our target audience to whom we’re trying to prove our worth?
Can the value of volunteer firefighters be measured in just dollars and cents saved? Certainly not. But how do we demonstrate that value in such a way that is both tangible and relevant to the common citizen, the business community government officials and even other organizations that we’re in competition with?
The reality is that we have to tug at both their purse strings and heart strings at the same time. Above all else, our message needs to be tailored to the target audience in a professional manner that in the end, makes good business sense for them to invest in us, regardless of which strings we’re trying to pull.
Food for thought. Comment here and let the FireRECRUITER and others know what’s worked, and hasn’t worked for you in garnering support from those you count on.