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August 2008
Demonstrating the Impact of Volunteer Involvement
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Featured Book: What Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives

Book Review

More Resources

Book Excerpt: "Economic Impact of Nonprofits and Cooperatives"
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A vital leadership role is to help everyone see the big picture. Make sure your accounting, reporting, and program evaluation practices assess the impact of volunteer contributions and illuminate volunteer accomplishments. See the resources below for help.
FeatureBookFeatured Book
Social Accounting for Nonprofits and CooperativesWhat Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives
by Laurie Mook, Jack Quarter and Betty Jane Richmond

In an era of resource constraints and increased demands for accountability, creating accounting procedures that highlight the social impacts of nonprofits is critical. What Counts is a very timely analysis of a major challenge facing nonprofits today -- how to properly assess social impacts and the important contributions of volunteers.

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BookReview Book Review
As a participant in the research for  What Counts, the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre has had a firsthand opportunity to apply [concepts from this book] to our organization. Knowing the "value added" that we create has helped our funders to appreciate our contribution and has had the same effect for our staff and our volunteers. We have to come to realize that we don't simply use resources, but that we also add value to society through our services.
-- Margarita Mendez, Executive Director, Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, Toronto
ResourcesMore Resources
Volunteer Management Audit
The Volunteer Management Audit is a unique tool for analyzing the effectiveness of an organization's approach to and procedures for involving volunteers.
Proof Positive: Developing Significant Volunteer Recordkeeping Systems, 21st Century Edition
Collect and communicate volunteer information in easy and effective ways and write reports that get your executive's attention.
Measuring Up: Assessment Tools for Volunteer Programs
Here's the book you've been looking for to "prove" the results and effectiveness of the volunteer program you lead! Nearly 70 timeless tools to help you evaluate your plans, program, organization, the people involved and even yourself.

ExcerptBook Excerpt
Economic Impact of Nonprofits and Cooperatives
Excerpted from What Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives by Laurie Mook, Jack Quarter, and Betty Jane Richmond

To illustrate the economic impact of nonprofits and cooperatives, let us start with a simple example. In many countries, volunteers deliver meals to homes of people in need. One of these programs, called Meals on Wheels, was started in Britain during World War II as a service to people who, during the bombing known as the Blitz, lost their homes and their ability to cook for themselves. The original program was organized by the Women's Volunteer Service for Civil Defense, which not only delivered meals to their homeless neighbors but also brought refreshments to canteens used by people in the military. This service was the prototype of the Meals on Wheels program that has spread internationally. . . .
. . . In Canada, the first Meals on Wheels program was introduced in Brantford, Ontario, in 1964, by the Independent Order of Daughters of the Empire and the Canadian Red Cross (Ontario Community Support Association 1993). A 1997 survey prepared for the Canadian Association for Community Care (Goodman 1997) presents an illuminating analysis of Meals on Wheels. The survey found that there were nearly 800 such programs in Canada serving about 1 million meals per month (nearly 12 million per year). Congregate Dining programs, where recipients share group meals in a center rather than in the privacy of their dwellings, made up 16 percent of the total meals served in 1997. In addition to seniors, the home-delivered meals were sent to disabled people, early-discharge patients from hospitals, people with HIV/AIDS, and prenatal and postnatal mothers at risk. The programs were almost exclusively nonprofit (99 percent), using a large cadre of volunteer labor (about 150 per program) in combination with a small staff (about 10 full-time and a similar number of part-time employees per program). Taken together, there were nearly 125,000 volunteers working alongside about 16,000 staff (full- and part-time).
Few would regard Meals on Wheels as an economic entity. These programs were set up for a social purpose -- to serve people in need -- and, therefore, they could be referred to as social organizations. Because these organizations are nonprofits (that is, corporations without shares), none of their income is distributed as dividends to shareholders. Instead, all of their income is used to maintain and expand their services. Yet, like businesses in general, Meals on Wheels programs purchase supplies on the market and also employ people who, in turn, pay taxes and participate in the economy through the expenditure of their earnings. The cost of home-delivered meal programs in Canada is about $53 million (Goodman 1997), an estimate that includes the fee paid by the clients (averaging about $4 per meal) and the $1.50 per-meal subsidy from governments and charitable organizations to cover the remaining costs. The estimated cost, however, does not include the contribution of the 125,000 volunteers who deliver and help with preparing the meals and who also assist with the administration of the programs. The volunteers supplement the labor of the paid staff and thereby bring the service to a greater number of recipients and at a lower cost than would be possible by employees only. Clearly, with or without the volunteer labor, Meals on Wheels has a significant economic impact. . . .

. . .[The book What Counts proceeds] on the assumption that even though services are supplied by organizations set up for a social purpose (social organizations), their economic impact must still be considered both within the broader society and within the organization. Moreover, the accounting must not only be for paid labor but should also include the important volunteer contributions that add to the value of social organizations. Similarly, the accounting should illuminate the impact of such organizations, not simply categorize their expenditures.

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:

Excerpted from What Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives
by Laurie Mook, Jack Quarter, and Betty Jane Richmond (Sigel Press, 2007). Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at
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