I read an article on the BBC a couple of days ago about how the UK recognises (or, more, accurately, completely fails to recognise) the value that volunteers bring to the country. How much we as a society benefit from the actions of a group of committed, motivated, and at least slightly insane group of individuals with a cause and the cojones to do something about it.
The article’s interesting – very economically biased, and it spends a good while talking about “a lot of waste and a lot of chaos” that comes hand in hand with volunteering. It talks about skills gaps, thinking of volunteering as unfortunate but necessary, and the idea of “a cover for cuts” (it also talks rather disparagingly about the impact of teenagers in today’s society, which as far as I can tell is totally missing the point).
Let’s play. I’ve done some back-of-napkin calculations on the Union, and how much everything that you do helps us to deliver everything we do. The mathematician in me is screaming, but here we go.
The 179 volunteers who’ve been logging hours on eActivities this term have racked up an average of just over 36 hours of volunteering. Projecting that forward, and assuming all of our volunteers and throwing statistical validity to the wind, that comes to a staggering 270,000 volunteering hours over the course of the year.
At a 21+ minimum wage of £6.70, that makes the net worth of volunteers to Imperial College Union just over £1.8 million. If we were paying at London Living Wage, that number jumps up to over £2.5 million.
Now obviously, this is contrived, and bears very little scrutiny, but it made me think.
I’ve been involved on a Societal Engagement project looking at the way the College supports staff and students who reach out to schools, communities, patients and businesses recently. We’ve talked a lot about the ‘Dark Art’ of measuring the impact of community action and outreach in a scientific community accustomed to measurements accurate to 4 significant figures.
So to finish – a challenge. I’ve had a go above at measuring the impact volunteering has on our Imperial community.
What have you got? Can you think of a better way to do stuff like this? Do you think we need to measure and evaluate the impact of volunteering? Tweet me @icu_dpcs.