Economic Impact Beyond Dollars: Volunteerism

Oak Ridge Chorus
The all-volunteer Oak Ridge Chorus

By Carol White, Associate Director of Operations –

The recently released Tennessee Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) economic impact study reports that Tennessee’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $1.17 billion in annual economic activity—supporting 38,482 full-time equivalent jobs, and generating $837.8 million in household income and $135.9 million in local and state government revenues. These numbers demonstrate that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the State of Tennessee’s economic well-being.

The study also confirms that Tennessee continues to live up to its name as the Volunteer State. The study documents significant contributions to Tennessee communities as a result of volunteerism with nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

During 2015, a total of 48,961 volunteers donated a total of 2,455,352 hours to Tennessee’s communities through 642 participating nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. This represents a donation of time with an estimated aggregate value of $57,848,093 (Independent Sector estimates the dollar value of the average 2015 volunteer hour to be $23.56).

Volunteers can include unpaid professional staff (e.g., executive and program staff, board/commission members), artistic volunteers (e.g., artists, choreographers, designers), clerical volunteers, and service volunteers (e.g., ticket takers, docents, ushers, gift shop volunteers). The participating organizations reported an average of 76.3 volunteers who volunteered an average of 50.1 hours during 2015, for a total of 3,824.5 hours per organization.

The Value of In-Kind Contributions to Arts Organizations

The organizations were asked about the sources and value of their in-kind support. In-kind contributions are non-cash donations such as materials (e.g., office supplies from a local retailer), facilities (e.g., office or performance space), and services (e.g., printing from a local printer).

The 642 participating nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in the State of Tennessee reported that they received in-kind contributions with an aggregate value of $20,082,622 during fiscal year 2015. These contributions can be received from a variety of sources including corporations, individuals, local and state arts agencies, and government agencies.