Employee Volunteering Cost

What does employee volunteering cost?

Ben Darlington | 22 February 16

We all recognise the qualitative business case for employee volunteering: that it does wonders for staff engagement, productivity and retention. But in terms of the bottom line, what are the real costs of giving your workforce paid time out of the office?

This article is part of our Business Case for Volunteering Mini-Series.

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We also understand the value of volunteering on volunteers, but without an honest assessment of cost, it’s difficult to quantify the benefits and set realistic expectations about how implementing a volunteering program can better your business.

For CSR and HR managers – often instinctive supporters of Employee Volunteering Programmes – a big part of the challenge in establishing a program is selling the concept internally: convincing senior leaders and middle management of how volunteering will contribute to their success. Similarly for business leaders consulting on the practicalities of David Cameron’s 3 Days volunteering policy, cost is going to be critical.

The truth is that if we want more volunteers, more companies need to understand the power of community engagement to boost productivity.

With that objective in mind, we’ve been working on a calculator to help businesses quantify the cost of volunteering in terms of both brokerage costs and lost productivity.

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Vitally, the calculator also shows the increase in productivity and staff retention necessary to offset the costs; the results are pretty startling.

In the examples below, productivity amongst volunteering staff would have to only rise by ~1% to cover the cost. To put this in perspective, a recent Gallup poll estimated that businesses with highly engaged workforces are around 20% more productive. Of course there are numerous contributing factors to an engaged workforce, but I think we can be confident that volunteering should be part of any company’s engagement strategy.

The numbers are equally compelling for the needed decrease in staff turnover. The costs of staff churn on business is huge: employee turnover averages 15% per annum in the UK and rehire costs of around 20% of salary mean that in a 1000-strong organisation rehire costs can reach as much as £1.5 million each year. In this case a meagre 2.82% drop in staff turnover would cover the cost of an EVP.

To use our calculator you simply need to enter

  • Your annual operating profit
  • The average salary at your organisation
  • The head count at your firm
  • Anticipated uptake in volunteering
  • Any brokerage costs

This is very much in ‘Beta’ at the moment so any questions, queries or corrections would be much appreciated! Similarly, we’d love to know if there’s more data you’d like to see.

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A 1% increase in engagement amongst volunteers will cover the cost of the average Employee Volunteering Programme

Case Studies

To give you more of a sense of what this means in practice, we used the model to estimate the cost of volunteering at two companies working in the City- FTSE 100 firm Capita, and international advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.



Capita is a multinational business services company with 74,000 employees and an operating profit of around £576 million. If we assumed an uptake of 10% (a reasonable target for a company of this size), with average brokering costs of around £40 a head,  Capita’s EVP would cost £548,631.  

Sounds like a hefty sum, but at Capita, it would only take a 0.95% increase in staff productivity amongst volunteers, or an even tinier decrease of 0.51% in staff turnover to offset the cost. It’s worth noting too that the cost of volunteering is a mere 0.095% of Capita’s annual operating profit (Data Source: Capita’s 2014 annual report)


At Saatchi & Saatchi, a AIM Board listed marketing company with an operating profit of £7.97 million and 773 employees, brokering 125 volunteering slots through Benefacto’s £5000 package would cost £10,652.

This means Saatchi & Saatchi would only need to increase productivity by 0.83%, or reduce staff turnover by 0.96% to offset the costs.

Again, the cost of volunteering is only a fraction of a percent (0.13%) of Saatchi & Saatchi’s annual operating profits.

(Data Source: Saatchi & Saatchi’s website) 

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Ben Darlington looks after new partnerships and possibilities at Benefacto. He has been involved with the project since its inception back in 2012, building the website and developing the graphic design. He is always looking for ways for charities, businesses and social enterprises to work together. If you'd like to work with Benefacto talk to Ben at

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