That Rotary members log a lot of volunteer hours should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the organization. But a new report just released by Johns Hopkins University provides a powerful look at the impact of all those volunteer hours.
The special report prepared for Rotary International by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies found that Rotary members had volunteered a total of 5.8 million hours within a four-week survey period. Extrapolating those results over an entire year, the report gave a conservative estimate of nearly 47 million hours of volunteer effort generated by Rotary members in a typical year.
The report then analyzed the economic impact of all those hours and estimated the value conservatively at $850 million a year, if communities had to pay for the services that Rotary volunteers provide.
Rotary, with the help of Johns Hopkins University, is the first global service organization to conduct an empirical analysis of its volunteer’s impact using an internationally sanctioned definition of volunteer work. The authors of the report noted in their conclusion that at each stop, the analysis had chosen the most conservative estimates.
“This makes the results reported here all the more remarkable,” the authors noted. “Translated into economic terms, Rotary is annually generating a scale of social and economic problem-solving effort that is worth nearly nine times more than it costs the organization to produce.”
Rotary General Secretary John Hewko said the figure doesn’t even include the in-kind contributions and the money that Rotary clubs and the Rotary Foundation raise every year. In addition, the figure doesn’t include the volunteer work of the many relatives and friends of Rotary that members often involve in a project, or that of members of Rotaract, Interact, or the Community Corps, that would easily double the estimate of Rotary’s economic impact.