The Dangerous Numbers Game



“So, exactly how many volunteers do we have?” The director of planned giving stopped Penny in the hallway. Penny hesitated for a moment and the director sighed. “It’s a simple question,” she said, clearly growing impatient.

Oh, but is it that simple? What should Penny say? “We have 300 volunteers.” And then the standard question from the director is, “why can’t I get just one when I need one?”

Most all organizations that utilize volunteers typically report on their numbers. But, what do the numbers mean? Recently, a CivilSociety article by David Ainsworth questioned the validity of reported volunteer numbers. He has a valid point. Do we all report numbers the same way? Or, because we have no reporting template, is there a perception that we don’t really know how many volunteers we have or that we fudge the numbers?

It can be a source of pride to claim that…

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