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Putting A Dollar Figure on Volunteerism

Master Gardeners of Hamilton County are busy year round putting in public service hours educating the public about horticulture through workshops, demonstration gardens, sponsoring clinics, exhibiting at community programs, and working with community groups to develop gardens and use best practices.  In donating their time, Master Gardeners provide great value to the area which encompasses not only Chattanooga, but Hamilton County and surrounding counties as well as north Georgia.  The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, while being only the fourth largest in the state contributed more hours in 2009 than the larger Master Gardeners of Davidson County (Nashville), Shelby County (Memphis) and Knox County (Knoxville).  (For more information, see this post.)

While the MGHC needs no thanks from the community, we would like to put the value of our contribution in dollar terms.  Using the University of Tennessee’s estimate of $22 an hour for educated labor,* this volunteerism translates into a significant contribution.

2006 = 6,298 volunteer hours with an estimated value of $138,566

2007 = 7,797 volunteer hours with an estimated value of $171, 534

2008 = 9,046 volunteer hours with an estimated value of $199,012

2009 = 12,238 volunteer hours with an estimated value of $269,236

Total for the past 4 years: $778,348

The upward trend in volunteerism is continuing in 2010, which looks to be even a bigger year for MG volunteers.  The University of Tennessee Extension’s 100 hour challenge has already been met by 28 members in August, with many more members close to this goal.

*Some organizations use a higher valuation for specific activities master gardeners perform such as landscaping, teaching, and communicating.  For more information about other volunteer organization valuations, go to http://www.handsonnetwork.org/tools/volunteercalculator

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