Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston couldn’t function without its dedicated corps of volunteers.

They deliver meals to our homebound seniors, package pet food for the aniMeals program, collect household goods for refugee families and help with a wide variety of administrative tasks.

We think they are priceless, but it turns out there really is a dollar amount assigned to the average volunteer hour.

Recently, Independent Sector, a leadership network for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations committed to advancing the common good, released its latest numbers estimating the value of a volunteer hour across the country.

For 2015, volunteer work was worth $23.56 an hour – 2 percent higher than 2014.  In Texas, where everything is bigger, a volunteer hour tops out at $25.11, a 1.8 percent increase from 2014.

On its website, https://www.independentsector.org/volunteer_time, Independent Sector explains how it arrived at these numbers. It’s a bit complicated – data geeks will get it – but most telling is the recognition that volunteers provide many intangibles that can’t be tallied. We know at IM, for example, that many of our volunteers become like family and you can put a price on something that precious.

Last year, more than 3000 volunteers contributed more than 60,000 hours to IM. At $1.5 million, they make up the single largest contribution to IM’s bottom line each year. Ok, perhaps not in cash, but in smiles and sometimes sweat and always in donated free time that could have been used in more selfish pursuits.

We simply couldn’t do what we do without their support and no amount of thanks can capture our gratitude. In short, we owe them. Big time.

Martin B. Cominsky

IM President & CEO