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Volunteer Hours Log: Top Templates and Tools You Need

Free Resource: volunteer hours log templates

Your volunteers are the driving force behind your mission. Every hour a volunteer contributes to your program brings you closer to your goal. That’s why you need to keep track of their time using a dedicated volunteer hours log.

Volunteer hours tracking tools come in various forms, from spreadsheets to automated software. Ultimately, the methods you choose to record volunteer hours will depend on your organization’s needs. 

In this article, we’ll review how to track volunteer hours, the best tools and strategies for logging volunteer time, and provide free volunteer hours log templates to get you started. 

Need a new way to track volunteer hours? Learn about Get Connected volunteer management software

How to Log Volunteer Hours: Your Quick Guide

Capturing your volunteer program’s impact is the best way to show your volunteers how much they’ve accomplished. It’s also necessary for winning grants and developing a successful volunteer management strategy. One crucial component of tracking the overall impact of your volunteer program is logging volunteer hours.

What Is a Volunteer Hours Log?

A volunteer hours log is a form, spreadsheet, or database used to record attendance and the amount of time each volunteer contributes to your program. Your form for volunteer hours should also include the following essential fields:

  • Volunteer name
  • Volunteer contact information
  • Check-in and check-out time
  • Total hours worked 
  • Volunteer activity and role title

You’ll want to capture this information for each volunteer that walks through your organization’s doors.

Whether you collect the data manually or using a digital tool, hour tracking is crucial for the success of your volunteer program. 

Volunteer hours log components including name, contact info, check in time, total hours worked, and role title

Why Do Organizations Track Volunteer Hours? 

Your volunteer logs will serve as vital records that demonstrate volunteers’ contributions. But why do volunteer programs need proof of volunteer hours? Here are just a few reasons your organization will benefit from logging volunteer time:

Understand the Value of Volunteers

By meticulously tracking volunteer hours, you can put a monetary value on volunteers' invaluable services. According to the Independent Sector, the national value of a volunteer hour is $31.80. This isn't just a number; it's a testament to volunteers' impact.  

A volunteer coordinator illuminated the real-world implications of this data, stating, "Once we grasped this monetary value, we found that our volunteers contributed services worth over $500,000 last year. That's a substantial amount we didn't have to fundraise, allowing us to redirect resources to other essential areas."

The Volunteer Experience

Shifting the spotlight from organizational benefits to the volunteer's perspective reveals another layer of importance. Tracking hours serves as both a motivator and a source of fulfillment for volunteers. Over 5.4 million volunteers have been tracked, amounting to more than $100,000,000 in volunteer impact. This underscores the immense value that volunteers bring to organizations and how tracking these hours can make volunteers feel that their contributions are recognized and impactful. 

Marc Lewis, executive editor at Ecowatch, emphasizes the importance of tracking volunteer time, stating, "The greater the donation or contribution, the better the application will look in the eyes of the funder." This highlights the dual value of tracking volunteer hours: it benefits the organization and enriches the volunteer experience by quantifying their impact.

Demonstrate Accountability 

Some community partners (such as universities, high schools, and businesses) may require their volunteers' hours to be logged officially on behalf of the host organization. For example, your corporate partners may need proof of volunteer hours to support their employee volunteer time-off benefit. A volunteer hour log authorized by the organization or supervisor is a standard tool shared between community partnerships like these.

Improve Volunteer Program Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) isn't just a business term; it's a measure of the effectiveness of your volunteer programCivic Champs suggests that accurate tracking can double the value of your volunteer program. By understanding where volunteers are most effective and where improvements can be made, you can optimize your program for maximum impact.

Share Program Impact

Data serves as a compelling narrative tool. As mentioned above, each volunteer hour is valued at $31.80 nationally, amplifying the financial impact of your organization's volunteer program. This isn't just a number; it's a compelling story that can inspire current and potential stakeholders, bolstering your organization's credibility and reach.

Support Decision Making

When you log volunteer data, you learn more about the programs and activities your volunteers love. You can also capture insights on volunteer retention. Support resource allocation and other critical decision-making by understanding volunteer preferences. 

The Digital Advantage

While traditional methods like printable sheets have their place, the digital age offers more efficient and accurate tools. Digital tracking systems provide real-time reporting, automated check-ins, and data analytics. These features not only save administrative time but also improve the accuracy and reliability of your volunteer data.

Win Grants

Most nonprofits rely on grants and other outside funding, and many foundations require these organizations to track and report on volunteer contributions. By logging volunteer hours, you’re more likely to secure the funding you need to support your program. 

As you can see, keeping track of volunteer hours is critical for many reasons. It can help you manage your volunteers and what opportunities they’re participating in and ensure you have a record of your program’s accomplishments.

Volunteer hours log and why organizations need to track volunteer hours

Check out the video below to get a recap of volunteer time tracking basics:

Grab your free Templates and Start Logging Volunteer Hours Like a Pro!

How to Track Volunteer Hours

Recording volunteer check-in and check-out seems easy enough. However, as your volunteer base grows, logging hours accurately and efficiently can become increasingly challenging and time-consuming. So, most organizations will need a dedicated hour-tracking strategy in place.

Infographic on how to track volunteer hours: Set goals, Develop a tracking process, Choose your tools, Test & reevaluate

Take these steps to help you develop your volunteer time-tracking process: 

  1. Set Goals
  2. Develop a Process for Logging Volunteer Hours
  3. Choose Your Data Tracking Tools
  4. Test and Reevaluate

1. Set Goals

What are you hoping to achieve by logging volunteer hours? What volunteer data do your volunteers, organization, board, funders, and stakeholders need to know? 

Some volunteers will also need to log hours for their own records, such as for community service requirements, service learning courses, or employee volunteer time off. Therefore, you’ll need a system for recording and verifying individual hours. 

There are several ways to organize and log volunteer hours based on your primary goal of tracking volunteer contributions. Use the table below to help inform your volunteer hour log: 

Collect Hours By: Primary Data Logged Goal Type of Organization(s)
Program / Cause Total volunteer hours per program Understand volunteer hours by program or cause. Make informed decisions about directing resources.  Community-based nonprofits running multiple programs or addressing several causes
Volunteer Volunteer hours per individual volunteer Celebrate and engage dedicated volunteers. Track individual contributions to a cause. Students may log individual hours for school credit. Employees may log individual hours for their company’s social responsibility initiative. Service-learning programs, corporate volunteerism programs, any nonprofit
Time Period Total volunteer hours throughout a set time period Understand organization-wide volunteer impact during a seasonal initiative (i.e., Week of Caring), volunteer hours logged per month, or total annual volunteer hours logged. Any organization

Remember, these are just a few ways to track volunteer time. You may choose to add more to your volunteer hour form, depending on the data you and your volunteers need to collect. 

2. Develop a Process for Tracking Volunteer Hours

Now, let’s learn how to record, log, and keep track of volunteer hours.

It’s easiest to record volunteer information like attendance and contact details when you’re already in contact with volunteers or during key “touchpoints.” Therefore, collecting volunteer data, including hours, typically occurs during any or all of the following touchpoints throughout the volunteer journey:

Volunteer Sign-up or Registration

When a volunteer signs up for a shift, they should know the duration (or the number of hours) they’re being asked to participate. This way, volunteer coordinators can use these hours as a reference and then log hours on behalf of the volunteer if necessary. 

Registration is also a natural time to collect other volunteer data, like contact details, preferences and availability, demographic information, unique qualifications, and more. 

Many organizations will benefit from an automated registration process in which volunteers create online profiles and register themselves. 

Volunteer Check-in

On-site check-in is a critical time to record attendance and is often where you’ll get the most accurate attendance and hours data. 

When volunteers arrive, ensure they know to check in at a designated location (with clear signage). 

If volunteers use individual service logs, dedicate a safe location to store the forms on-site. 

Some organizations will choose to record names and check-in times using paper sign-in sheets. While this method is inexpensive and straightforward, it will require someone to input the data into a spreadsheet or program later.

You can simplify volunteer check-in using a mobile app for easy contact-free hours logging from their mobile devices. 

Volunteer Check-out

When volunteers finish their shifts, they should be prompted to “check out.” Upon signing out, volunteers should record the total session hours worked. This is a great time to sign the required forms for individuals completing service hours.

If volunteers are responsible for logging their own hours, you’ll want to ask them to do so during this time. Make sure to include instructions for doing so, especially if you use a shared spreadsheet or online logging system. 

Volunteer Follow-up

Follow up with your volunteers within a few days of their activity. Remind them how to submit their volunteer hours if they if they still need to do so. Provide a specific email address and method for submitting volunteer hours if required. 

Data Entry

After volunteers have logged their hours, you’ll need to enter data from the forms into an Excel spreadsheet or database. 

This presents an excellent opportunity for a volunteer skilled in data entry to contribute and ease the workload. Set time on your weekly calendar to update your volunteer hours log Excel spreadsheet. 

You may also scan the volunteer hour paper logs into your computer to quickly access digital copies should stakeholders or donors request data. 

Remember that the data entry process can quickly become time-consuming, especially for larger volunteer programs. 

You won’t be able to use your volunteer hours and determine impact without a dedicated and reliable way to track them. Establishing the above processes will help your organization better manage hours and maintain a user-friendly experience for your volunteers and community partners. 

Verifying Hours

A verification process is necessary for any organization that incorporates self-reporting. In other words, if you’re asking volunteers to submit their own hours, you’ll need to provide some oversight to ensure the accuracy of management data. 

You may verify hours by comparing attendance records with volunteers’ submissions or simply scanning submissions for any anomalies and duplicate entries.

Manual verification can be tedious. That’s why self-reporting is recommended for organizations that employ time-saving volunteer tracking tools with a streamlined verification process. 

Volunteer hours log and developing a process for tracking volunteer hours

Want to capture every volunteer hour? Download these free volunteer hours log templates 

3. Choose Your Tools for Tracking Volunteer Hours

Which tools will you use to log volunteer hours? Some organizations log volunteer hours manually, while others implement an automated system to track volunteer hours. 

Volunteer hours log and which tool is best for your organization

Here are some considerations for each so that you can choose the method that makes the most sense for your case:

Printable Volunteer Hours Logs

Manually logging volunteer hours is budget-friendly and quick to implement. You don’t need the internet or a computer to log volunteer hours on-site; simply print your log and invite volunteers to track their hours according to your system. (Remember that you’ll need to compile the paper logs into a spreadsheet or database later.)

If you choose to log volunteer hours manually, check out our templates below, and download the sample volunteer hour log that works for your needs. 

Logging hours manually can be time-consuming and requires considerable attention to keep your volunteer hours data updated and organized.

Additionally, manually tracking individual volunteer hours may not be viable for programs with many volunteers. If it’s important to your organization that individual hours are tracked, you may consider implementing an automated system that can capture and report every volunteer’s hours. 

How to Track Volunteer Hours in Excel (or Google Sheets)

If you’re manually recording volunteer information, you’ll want to enter any attendance sheets and community service hours logs into a spreadsheet, making it easier to add hours and search your logs later. You can also record volunteer data directly into the spreadsheet. 

There are several ways to track hours using spreadsheets. For example: 

Logging Hours by Volunteer

Perhaps your program wants to track the hours and activities of each volunteer. This strategy is great for programs that want to recognize individual volunteer contributions or find data on volunteer retention. If you log hours by volunteer, you’ll want to include the following columns in your spreadsheet:

  • Volunteer Name
  • Contact Information
  • Birthday
  • Date of Initial Registration
  • Availability
  • Running Total of Volunteer Hours for the Month/Year
  • Activity Preferences

Each volunteer should have their own row, as in the example below:

Volunteer hours log spreadsheet for tracking volunteer hours

Using the SUM feature, tally your volunteers’ total hours at the bottom of the spreadsheet. 

If your volunteers self-report their hours, consider creating a public Google Sheet. Google Sheets live online, so they’re easy to share and edit.


Capture every volunteer hour with easy-to-use hours log templates

Logging Hours by Program or Activity

Organizations with many programs may want to measure the number of volunteer hours contributed to each program. For example, you may want to know which programs are most popular among your volunteers and which could use more resources. 

To log hours by program or activity, we recommend creating a tab for each activity, as in the example below:

Excel spreadsheet for tracking volunteer data with date, volunteer numbers, volunteer hours, and YTD total

You’ll notice that this spreadsheet records attendance and hours based on the date of each activity or event associated with the program. These additional details can also aid decision-making and resource planning. 

What are the pros and cons of a volunteer spreadsheet? 

If you’re not ready to invest in automated volunteer time tracking, spreadsheets are a workable digital solution offering some reporting capability. 

Excel hours logs are effective for individuals who want to track their hours at home. You can provide your volunteers with an Excel or Google Sheets template (which may even incentivize repeat volunteerism with your organization). 

Spreadsheets can also work for smaller volunteer programs that want to track basic volunteer data.

As your organization grows, you’ll find that manual data tracking and entry limits your capacity to track necessary volunteer data. Ultimately, this kind of data administration takes time and may not be feasible for volunteer leaders who are already stretched thin. That’s why organizations of all sizes turn to automated hour-tracking software.

Automated Volunteer Hour Tracking

If you need more accurate results, an automated system that can track volunteer hours digitally may be the right choice for your organization. Volunteer management software can capture dozens of data points in seconds, all housed online for easy accessibility. 

An automated system also simplifies organization-wide impact tracking. Plus, impact reports are readily available and ready to share with your donors, stakeholders, and volunteers.

There are lots of reasons to track volunteer hours using volunteer management software. With a dedicated web-based system, you can:

  • Gauge more accurate results
  • Manage a large amount of data more efficiently
  • Easily celebrate individual volunteer contributions
  • Simplify and streamline organization-wide impact tracking
  • Access real-time reports from anywhere

Test and Reevaluate

Make sure to test out your new system, from sign-up to data entry. Get feedback from staff and volunteers.

As the volunteer leader, you'll want to evaluate the system on your end by reflecting on questions like these:

  • How are you managing when it comes to tracking volunteer hours?
  • Do you feel that hours tracking has added value to your volunteer program?
  • What percentage of your time are you spending on logging volunteer hours?
  • Is logging hours worth the time investment?
  • What tools and processes are currently working?
  • Are volunteers happy with your hours logging system?
  • Do you wish you had more robust hours tracking tools? 

Be patient and give yourself time to work out any kinks. Once you feel comfortable with your new system, you’ll have a deeper sense of the impact that hours tracking has on your program. 

Volunteer hours log and how to track volunteer hours

Logging volunteer hours should help to increase your return on investment. Consider the systems that are working and those that can be improved. If you’re ready to upgrade your system, weigh your options, and choose the method that you feel comfortable using. 

Get Connected can help you automatically track volunteer hours and report on the impact of your volunteer program. Learn more about our volunteer tracking tools >>>

More Best Practices for Tracking Volunteer Hours

Volunteer data serves as a record and a rich source of actionable insights for improving your organization's impact and ROI. The best practices for volunteer hour tracking can vary depending on whether you are a small nonprofit, a school, or a larger entity.

Small Nonprofits: Enhance the Volunteer Experience

For small nonprofits, volunteer contributions are indispensable. Implementing a streamlined, web-friendly system for self-reporting hours and activities can be transformative. Effective reporting also gains importance in this context; volunteer labor holds a value of nearly $200 billion a year—a compelling figure to present to potential grant agencies.

Schools: Track to Meet Educational Goals

In schools, tracking volunteer hours is often tied to student graduation requirements. A system with easy reporting and real-time analytics can assist both educators and students in monitoring progress toward these milestones. For a more personal touch, consider systems that accommodate group activities like school outings, ensuring that 'plus-one' volunteers—like family or friends—are also registered.

Larger Organizations: Unlock Funding Avenues

For larger organizations like corporations, sophisticated tracking systems offer detailed reporting that can unlock substantial funding avenues. According to new data from Independent Sector and the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, the national value of a volunteer’s time in 2022 was $31.80 per hour. That means capturing just eight hours of volunteer time each weekday can result in annual gains of over $66,000. Leverage this data by sharing comprehensive reports with stakeholders.

Universal Best Practice: Go Mobile

Across all organization types, a mobile-friendly volunteer experience is increasingly necessary. From QR codes at check-in locations to apps that prompt check-ins via geolocation, embracing mobile technology can streamline your volunteer management process and elevate your organizational impact.

Volunteer hours log and the benefits of automated volunteer hours tracking

Ready to upgrade from spreadsheets and basic templates? Try Shift free and set up volunteer hours tracking in 5 minutes >>>

Volunteer Hours Log Templates to Try

To give you a leg up, we’ve compiled this handy collection of popular volunteer hours log templates that you can conveniently download.

Example of a manual volunteer hours log spreadsheet for volunteer programs

For instance, this template is our Printable Volunteer Hours Log (PDF). It's a basic, printable volunteer hour log sheet PDF that can be used for any volunteer program. It highlights the basic volunteer details (like name and email), the activity at hand, check-in and check-out time, and the completed hours.

However, your exact volunteer opportunity might need additional, specific fields, like a supervisor’s signature, if the program is through a school or university. Explore our other templates and find one that meets your unique needs. 

Our downloadable resource includes the following templates:

  • Free Printable Volunteer Hours Log Sheet (PDF) – A basic, printable volunteer hour log sheet PDF for any volunteer program. 
  • Standard Volunteer Hours Log (Microsoft Word) – A blank volunteer hours log sheet for community organizations. 
  • Volunteer Hour Log for Any School (PDF) – A log for students to track their service learning or volunteer hours. Wondering how to log volunteer hours for high school programs? This template works as a volunteer hour log for high school students!
  • Volunteer Hours Log for College Volunteer Programs (Microsoft Word) – This is a volunteer log sheet for colleges, universities, service learning, or student volunteer programs (with a signature column). 
  • Volunteer Hours Log Template (Excel Spreadsheet) – For tracking organization-wide volunteer data and program hours data in a spreadsheet. 
  • Individual Volunteer Hour Log Template for Volunteer Programs (Excel Spreadsheet) – Use this Excel Spreadsheet for tracking accumulated volunteer hours over time, organized by volunteer name. 

Your organization can log volunteer time to measure program impact, win grants, and demonstrate accountability. We hope you find these templates and best practices useful for tracking and reporting on your volunteers’ contributions to their communities.

Get started today and download your volunteer hours log templates!

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