by Marie Palacios

Last month Funding For Good shared some tips on how nonprofits can evaluate how volunteers should be compensated for their time. This month a client wanted to know if we have “any tips for getting volunteers to track their true contributions without burdening them with too much busy work.”

Volunteer showing a poster on white background

Tracking volunteer contributions can seem daunting at first, but it is just as important as tracking financial contributions. Why? For every job a volunteer completes or every item donated represents a dollar your nonprofit did NOT have to spend! In order to calculate true operating and program costs it’s important to reflect ALL the resources that are needed to achieve goals.

Let’s look at ways we can make volunteer tracking easy for everyone:


  • Create a simple log sheet for each regular volunteer and keep it in a binder
  • Keep the binder in a designated space so every time the volunteer is on site they can sign in and out with ease.
  • Individualized forms makes it much easier to provide a record for school projects,  internships, resume reporting, or volunteer appreciation events.
  • Event log-in sheets- Always keep a simple log in sheet ready for volunteers at the event registration table. This also gives you a  new “reporting impact” tool.  Flat Style Icon with Long Shadow. A time log. Concept for training courses, time management, self-development and how-to articles
  • “Our organization is excited to report that our annual event was a success thanks to the support of our board, staff, and more than the –?—  hours donated by our amazing volunteers.”
  • Online or Cell Phone Apps- For those volunteers who are always helping out but rarely on site to complete a time sheet, explore the idea of using an app so as one of the following: Volunteer Time Tracking, Time Keeper, Hours Keeper, or any other one you find to be user friendly! Many of these apps let you send your time sheets via email with a simple click of the button so volunteers don’t have to sit down at a computer to send in their hours.
  • Call-In Reporting- Some volunteers might not be very technologically savvy and prefer to just pick up the phone to report their hours directly to staff. Make sure volunteers know that staff are more than happy to keep a running log for them. Be sure to confirm if the volunteer would like to call in at a specified time or if they would appreciate a call from the organization’s staff.

  • Incentive Reporting– You can always keep things fun by letting volunteers know that everyone who submits their weekly/monthly time sheet will be entered into a cool drawing at the end of each month! (Once again, you will be surprised how many local businesses are happy to donate gift cards, or services. Gas cards, restaurant gift cards, free manis/pedis, spa services, oil changes, and other daily life treats are always a hit!)

As always, ask your volunteers what method of reporting is most convenient for them and keep it simple! Your organization may only need to incorporate one or two of these methods depending on volunteer functions and volume. Be sure to consult with your CPA to confirm the current dollar value for volunteer hours and use these numbers in your impact reporting!