How to Use Volunteer Time Tracking & Volunteer Hours to Get Grants | Track It Forward

How to Use Volunteer Time Tracking & Volunteer Hours to Get Grants

Last updated by Kasey Murphy on 09/02/2022

Volunteers and donations are the backbone of so many nonprofits.  But sometimes, you may have more volunteers than donations available. Grants are a way to solve this dilemma of having more people than money. Grants are attainable if you have the volunteer base and data to help promote your organization.  

Some nonprofits actually have grants where they get money every time a volunteer volunteers.  These grants, unfortunately, are not widely available but they are not impossible to attain.

We’ve created this mini eBook that explains all the different types of grants and how to get them, but first before you even do that… you have to track volunteer hours, or else it’s all in vain.

Why Tracking Volunteer Hours Is Important 

Why Tracking Volunteer Hours Is Important 

A nonprofit can benefit in a multitude of ways by tracking their volunteer hours. The following elements are just some reasons to consider tracking volunteer hours, both for the benefit of your organization's internal practices and to gain access to apply for grants. 

Volunteer Program Practices That Can Be Analyzed From Volunteer Hour Tracking Data 
Volunteer Engagement 
Check if volunteers respond to certain engagement tactics during a period of time. 

Volunteer Motivation 
Use volunteer totals to help motivate volunteers in a friendly competition. 
Volunteer Impact 
See where volunteers spent the most time and if it effected your goals in that area. 
Volunteer Activity Satisfaction
Evaluate which activities volunteers return to and which they don't. 
Volunteer Outliers 
Check who is volunteering the most and who is the least so you can recognize them! 
Volunteer Retention 
With yearly reports you can access which volunteers continue to return. 
How Tracking Volunteer Hours Helps Apply For Grants 
Gather volunteer hour totals. 
Calculate volunteer program impact. 
Discover volunteer value. 
Showcase volunteer hours towards specific missions. 
Maintain statistical reports for grant proposals.

Tracking volunteer hours is a process that proves your organization is analytical and self-reflective to donors and grant providers. If you take the time to gather reports from your volunteer hour database, this showcases that your organization is organized and passionate about making sure your volunteers are providing impact to your organization’s mission and goals.

It is important to note that tracking volunteer hours will not automatically qualify your organization’s success or grants. It takes a bit of implementing to get to a point of success, and a good mix of other practices, too! 

Make sure you are actually tracking the specific things that help highlight the areas of improvement that the grant is hoping to help with!

You can learn more about what specific grants might be looking for from our mini eBook.

The Value Different Tracked Volunteer Hour Reports Add To Grants 

You can use volunteer data to help showcase a few different things on a grant application or proposal. Here are just a few examples.


  • The total amount of volunteer hours your organization had over a period of time.  Volunteer totals can show that many people are dedicated to helping your mission and cause. This will help show that money will not go to waste. 


  • The number of volunteer hours that went towards a certain activity. Categorized data and volunteer hour reports showcase management and self - reflection aspects. You are able to evaluate where the biggest volunteer impact takes place, and the grants can help these areas or the ones that are not doing as well. 


  • The value of your volunteers - in a monetary amount. This and the number of consistent volunteers will show that your volunteer program will continue to improve and be impactful over time due to the support of volunteers. 


  • Volunteer hour totals in a specific time of growth. This will help showcase the direct impact of volunteers on an organizational goal. It can also give grant reviewers a feeling of community and feel more approachable with your volunteer base due to their levels of commitment.   

Specific types of grants may actually require some of this data in order to apply. If you are applying for government grants - these totals and numbers need to be absolutely accurate and traceable in order to legally be considered. Our mini eBook outlines what can happen when you aren’t totally transparent and truthful with your data. 


Now that you have that baseline of what can be helpful with volunteer hour data and reports to get these grants, let’s lay out the steps for finding and applying to grants. 

6 Steps to Finding and Applying for Grants that can use your volunteer hours


1. Find an effective way to track your volunteer hours 

There are many different ways to track your volunteer time within your organization. It is important to remember that for grant applications and proposals your volunteer hour totals need to be accurate, so your volunteer time tracking process needs to be accurate, too. 

You need to be able to showcase exactly where your volunteer hours came from and at what times. We suggest that you use a volunteer time tracking software system like Track It Forward. 

With Track It Forward, you can see all volunteer hour logs, and run at least 5 different types of reports instantly to see different actions, totals, and impacts of your volunteer hours! 

If you feel like getting a time tracking system is aggressive, let us point out what happens when you aren’t completely accurate with statistics when applying for grants. 

2. Run Reports on Your Volunteer Hours 

Gather all the different totals that you can on your volunteers, their hours, and different efforts that your program focused on. 

We suggest you run as many reports as possible so when you are writing your grant proposal, you can decide which statistics and data are best for the grants you are applying for. 

Track It Forward provides five different reports, more if you have conditional logic implementation

The reports include an all hour report, volunteer report, volunteer & activity report, activity report, and milestone reports! To learn the difference between these reports, check them out here

After you run the volunteer reports, it is important that you understand the value that the reports provide for the grants. 

3. Analyze Reports & Different Ways To Better Your Volunteer Program 

After you pull the reports, look at the data and analyze them! You can find out how well you are doing as a volunteer program by looking at your milestone goals report. 

You can also see when you were most interactive with your volunteer program and if that boosted volunteer participation. Or see how your volunteers might have made a direct impact on your organization during a time of peak volunteering. 

4. Calculate The Value of Your Volunteers 

There are a number of ways you can calculate the monetary value of volunteer time.  The most recent estimate on the national value of volunteer time in 2020 is $27.70 per hour. For comprehensive data on the value of volunteer time across different states and over time, take a look at this useful article from the Independent Sector. To calculate the value of more specialized skills, The Bureau of Labor Statistics has wage data by area and occupation. 

____________   x     ____________________ = total value of volunteer time

   # of hours                      avg. hourly rate

In addition, did you know that you could claim volunteer service contributions? In order to claim volunteer time, one of the following two stipulations must be met: (1) the service contribution either creates or enhances nonfinancial assets or (2) the specialized skills provided by the volunteer would typically need to be purchased if not provided by donation. For more information on these stipulations, visit the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

5. Research Different Grants You Can Get 

Next step, grants! There are different types of grants, and many vary depending on the country and state that you live in, the type of organization giving out the grant, and the type of benefit that beneficiaries would receive from the grant. 

In our Nonprofit Grants Explained mini eBook, we will explain different types of grants, their eligibility, and even give examples!

For now, we will just go over some of the different categories of grants based on the organization that is giving them out. 

Corporate Grants

These grants are from large corporations and usually come in a sort of match-grant or specific grant instead of a monetary donation. For example, a large corporation will usually give out a specific thing that is related to your organization’s mission and the corporation.  

Foundation Grants

Foundation grants are large sums of money collected from philanthropic donations that are then donated to a nonprofit organization. Different foundations are required, depending on their specific type, to give out money to nonprofits.

Foundations can be family foundations like the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, private foundations - which funding comes from private individuals, public foundations - which funds might come from governmental bodies, and community foundations - which collects money from a specific community.  

Government Grants

Government Grants are the most regulated and legal action grants. They can be local, federal, or state grants. Since these grants come from the government and usually taxpayer money as well, there are qualifications and eligibility requirements that are needed to apply. 

These grants are usually always monetary, whereas others might be a different kind of donation. This is where the accurate and reliable volunteer hour data will come in handy to help make numeric calculations. 

Federated Funds

These are donations usually made by local businesses or individuals in a fundraising effort to make a donation to your organization! 

There usually is not a huge application process for this, or you might not be expecting it at all, but if there is a federated fund that you find you need to apply for, we know that showcasing volunteer hours will be beneficial because federated funds usually come from people who like to know they are helping out as many people as possible - which includes volunteers. 

6. Get Your Volunteer Program Stats Ready to Present!

And lastly, it is time to write your grant application and proposal! Having your volunteer hour data will be very helpful and might even be a requirement in some of your grant applications. 

For a full guide on writing your grant proposal, we recommend that you visit this website. We also recommend taking this part very seriously and maybe even hiring a grant writer - or finding a volunteer one! 

If Grants Don’t Work Out For You, Or You Can’t Find A Grant Yet - You Should Still Be Tracking Volunteer Hours! 

We aren’t going to sugarcoat it. Applying for grants is competitive and hard. Sometimes, it can just be a bit too much work. 

If you are feeling like this, we are here to tell you that you still need to track your volunteers! Tracking your volunteers and volunteer hours goes a long way, beyond applying for grants. 

Tracking volunteer hours allows for organizations to better visualize their impact on the community and set goals and become accountable for them! You can help recruit and retain volunteers with volunteer data by doing fun leaderboard competitions or even awards. You can also test out which motivational methods work best for your volunteers, and see which activities get the most volunteer attention. 

Consider volunteer time tracking for your organization, we know that you and your organization will be better off for it!