Value of volunteers Value of volunteers

Volunteers are already massively helping to keep our spaces clean and clear from litter. To everyone, whether you are collecting data, fundraising, litter picking or lobbying, we thank you!

Why measure the value of volunteers?

It is not always straightforward to see the difference volunteers are making but we should be measuring this to truly understand the benefits of everyone pitching in. It can show what the impact of volunteering is, not just on the local environment but also volunteers’ heath and wellbeing and sense of purpose can be useful when looking for funding or other support and recruitment of more volunteers. Ultimately it is to recognise what a great impact you are making.

What should be measured?

There are several measurements you could make to see your impact.

  1. Number of hours you have volunteered (see more below)
  2. Number of bags of litter you have collected (if relevant)
  3. Number of surveys completed (if relevant)
  4. Feedback from volunteers
  5. Photos of before and after work has been done

Volunteer Scotland has guidance on how to get started with measuring your impact as well as guidance on calculating the economic value of your volunteers where you can calculate hours per year, number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) weeks, and annual value (including overheads).

Keep Scotland Beautiful also conducted research into the specific value of volunteers’ litter picking where wages of equivalent jobs and the perceived wage willing to be paid for volunteers are used to calculate the average hourly/annual rates.

As part of the report on the Scale and Cost of Litter and Flytipping by the Scottish Government, hours were also used with the minimum wage to monetise the value.

All three of these use hours volunteered to create an economic value; this could be a good measure to start measuring at a minimum.

Many coordinators of litter picking events ask for them to be registered. This collects data such as number of people, locations and distance covered. This is often to show the reach and impact of the volunteers and why this recording is so important, even if it does not have an impact on your clean.

It all adds up

More than 30,000 people in Scotland took part in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Spring Clean Scotland challenge over a four-week period in 2023, including 5,000 pupils representing every local authority area.

Trash Free Trails have cleaned 5,030 kms of trails.

13,615 volunteers removed litter from beaches across the UK in 2022 as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s year-round beach cleaning programme. Together, they removed 17,772kgs of litter and cleaned 97 miles of beach.

Based on data from 2019/20 the Scottish Government calculated more than £525,000 was contributed by volunteers through their time; knowing this is likely to be an underestimate due to much activity going unrecorded. With assumptions on the number of groups and hours of litter picking with the minimum wage for over 25s at the time of the report, the value is equivalent to nearly £2 million.

All your efforts really do add up to a huge impact on our local environmental which will benefit your community and local biodiversity. Thank you!

Celebrate our heroes

It’s important to highlight and celebrate this hard work. If you know a local litter hero you can nominate them as part of Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Hero of the Month.

Helping Hand Environmental have a Hero of the month too for those that deserve recognition for going above and beyond to help their local community. You can nominate someone using an online form, and if successful their efforts will be shown on the UK Litterpicking Groups Facebook page and receive gifts for their fantastic work.

Further reading

The Community Litter Hub is delivered in partnership with: