In 2019, approximately 30% of Americans (or about 77.9 million people) reported that they had volunteered for an organization or association, generating an estimated economic value of $147 billion. In other words, if these volunteers hadn’t freely contributed their time and effort, it would have been impossible for most nonprofit agencies to survive — let alone accomplish their goals.

Volunteerism is vital to the survival of the nonprofit sector, and yet many organizations fail to recognize the actual value of their volunteers. By calculating and tracking key volunteer metrics, such as LTV, nonprofits can start to improve their recruitment processes, boost retention, and make a stronger impact on their communities. 


In marketing, LTV is short for “lifetime value.” Businesses define customer LTV as the estimated amount of money a customer will generate for a company over their lifetime. A person’s LTV can be calculated by multiplying the customer value by the average customer lifespan.

  • Customer value: Calculated by multiplying the average purchase value by the average purchase frequency rate
  • Average customer lifespan: Calculated by averaging the number of years a customer will stay loyal to a specific brand or company

For example, if Maria spent an average of $50 per month at a local coffee shop and planned to live in the area for 6 years, her estimated LTV would be $3,600.

$50 per month x 12 months = $600 per year

$600 per year x 6 years = LTV of $3,600

To find the lifetime value of a volunteer instead of a customer, you just need to estimate what the volunteer would be earning if they were being compensated for their time.

How to Calculate Volunteer LTV

One way to find a volunteer’s LTV is by researching the average hourly pay for their task and multiplying this by the number of hours they volunteer per month. To get the yearly value, multiply the monthly amount by 12. 

Once you have this figure, look at how long the average volunteer spends working with your organization. If the average volunteer “lifespan” is 2.4 years, then you can multiply this figure by the yearly value to get the average volunteer LTV.

As an example, the average animal caretaker earns about $14.19 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using this figure, a volunteer who assists at an animal shelter for 10 hours per month would have an estimated value of $1,702.80 per year.

$14.19 per hour x 10 hours per month = $141.90 per month

$141.90 per month x 12 months = $1,702.80 per year

If the volunteer stayed with the organization for the average volunteer lifespan (2.4 years), then their LTV would be $4,086.72.

$1,702.80 per year x 2.4 years = LTV of $4,086.72

To find the average hourly wages for different jobs or tasks, resources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed, and Glassdoor can help a lot. Simply type in the job role and enter your ZIP code to see the fair estimate for your area.

Benefits of Tracking LTV of Volunteers

It’s essential for nonprofit organizations to track metrics like volunteer LTV to maximize the positive impact they can have. Volunteers who reliably show up multiple times a month over the course of several years are extraordinarily valuable, and nonprofits should be striving to acquire these kinds of passionate, hardworking individuals. 

By figuring out the average volunteer LTV of your organization, you’ll be able to reap all kinds of benefits in the long run. Tracking this metric will help you:

  • Make more informed volunteer recruitment decisions 
  • Accurately measure the effect of any program changes you make
  • Learn ways to increase the average lifespan of your volunteers
  • Reduce the resources spent on volunteer recruitment and training
  • Improve the training processes within your organization
  • Focus your efforts on the causes that will have the biggest impact

Ways to Boost LTV

If you want to increase the average LTV of your volunteers, making sure that each individual feels heard, appreciated, and supported is crucial. Each organization is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to boosting volunteer engagement and retention. 

However, all nonprofits can simplify the volunteer recruitment and training processes with Civic Champs! Our goal at Civic Champs is to help nonprofit organizations achieve their objectives and make positive, long-lasting changes in cities around the world. With our intuitive, easy-to-use platform, you can spend less time on repetitive tasks and more time focusing on the things that really matter. Schedule a demo today to see how we can help your nonprofit thrive!

About the Author:
Geng Wang
As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.