The Price of Virtue

The Price of Virtue

The Economic Value of the Charitable Sector

Vivien Foster, Susana Mourato, David Pearce and Ece Özdemiroglu

The authors of this pioneering book attempt to address this problem by utilizing survey techniques, originally developed in environmental economics, to place an economic value on the benefits provided by the voluntary sector in the UK.

Chapter 4: The Benefits of Volunteering

Vivien Foster, Susana Mourato, David Pearce and Ece Özdemiroglu

Subjects: economics and finance, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


4. The benefits of volunteering 4.1 INTRODUCTION A question of enduring interest in voluntary sector research is the appropriate value to be accorded to volunteer time. The methodological difficulties associated with such a valuation exercise have been well documented, and it is perhaps for this reason that there have been comparatively few attempts actually to perform it. An important starting-point is the exercise conducted by the Volunteer Centre UK (1995), which took as a proxy for the value of volunteer time the national average for the gross hourly wage rate (£7.83 in 1993). Applying this figure to estimates of the total annual number of hours volunteered in the UK yielded a total value for volunteering of £24.5 billion in 1993. However, Knapp (1990) is critical of any approach based on ‘a blanket foregone wage for all volunteers’, arguing that ‘some are retired or unemployed, and others could be giving up a variety of forms of paid employment in order to participate’. Nevertheless, the authors of the 1995 study by the Volunteer Centre UK readily acknowledge that a simple approach of this nature is only ‘a taste of what could be achieved in a more detailed analysis’. The purpose of this chapter is to refine and extend the valuation approach applied by the Volunteer Centre UK (1995), by responding – at least in part – to some of the criticisms set out by Knapp (1990). One of the reasons why valuing volunteer time is such a complex issue is that...

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