Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

March 2007


Volunteer contributions in the production of services are an important resource internationally. However, few countries include volunteer contributions in their national accounts, even though many encourage their populations to engage in volunteering. At the organizational level, many nonprofit organizations using volunteers often limit their input to a footnote in annual reports acknowledging their contribution; few estimate their value in financial terms. As a result, their financial accounts lack information upon which to base decisions affecting the organizations and the communities they serve. Additional information is required to assess the impact of volunteers in individual nonprofits as well as the sector as a whole. This study focuses on Canada, one of the few countries that include volunteers in the national accounts, to examine to what extent nonprofit organizations estimate a financial value for these contributions and include this in their financial statements. This paper reports the results of an online survey of 661 nonprofits from across Canada. In order to understand why some organizations keep records for volunteer contributions and quantify them, two sets of explanatory factors are explored: organizational characteristics and the attitude of the executive director. We find larger organizations were more likely to engage in record keeping and estimating volunteer value, as were organizations with a relatively large group of volunteers and volunteer programs. The attitude of the executive director is important in determining which organizations engage in these practices.


Postprint version. Published in Voluntas, Volume 18, Issue 1, March 2007, pages 55-71.
Publisher URL:


non-profit organizations, surveys, voluntarism, volunteers



Date Posted: 15 October 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.