How do you measure the work of volunteers?

329,040 minutes, 329,040 moments so dear. 329,040 minutes –
How do you measure, measure volunteers?
In smileys, in tears shed, in counsel, in cups of coffee.
In units, in carb counts, in laughter, in strife.
In 329,040 minutes – how do you measure DHF volunteers?*

Sometimes my job asks me to do things that are kind of impossible.

Recently I was working on a grant application that asked how much our volunteers contribute to the Diabetes Hands Foundation. How do I begin to do that? With the Care Team / Comité de bienvenida y apoyo who personally welcome every new member? We have more than 50,000 registered members now. Or do I talk about the Administrators / Administradores who keep the conversation going—even if that means chatting with someone for more than an hour while that person works his or her way down from a high or up from a low? What about our board members who contribute not just their time, but their professional expertise? That doesn’t even get to the person who wrote the iPhone app for last year’s Big Blue Test or all the people who did a Live Interview…

It’s a poor measure, but the best I could do was estimate the total number of hours our volunteers contributed. Approximately 30 people volunteered regularly over the last year. All together our volunteers gave 5484 hours of their lives—or 329,040 minutes.

That amounts to 2.74 FTE, almost three more full time employees.

According to an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly all that time translates into $121,415.75.
All these numbers tell us that our volunteers gave a lot, but they don’t really reflect the true impact and value of their efforts. For that we need a different kind of measure.

How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love…

*With apologies to Jonathan Larson, composer of RENT

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Only after I wrote this tribute to the volunteers here on TuDiabetes and on EsTuDiabetes and our boards did I hear about Mel's version. You might know her from her blog Sweetly Voiced.

Here's a link to Sweetly Voiced's version of Seasons of Love. Enjoy!