The Impact of Inflation on Volunteering & The Importance of Paying Expenses

There is no need to highlight the value volunteers add to our communities, especially the way they rose to the challenge during the pandemic and shopped for their neighbours, tested us for COVID, and vaccinated us, to mention a few things. In this article, we will be looking at the impact that inflation has had on the volunteering sector, including, the rising costs of living, the price of fuel, and, why it’s of the utmost importance to reimburse your volunteer’s expenses. 

The Rising Costs of Living

In the year to March 2022, we saw a rise in domestic gas prices, which increased by 28%. As well as this, other costs of living and general rates of inflation have surged by 5.5% in the 12 months to January, up from 5.4% in December, increasing the squeeze on household budgets. Due to this, there has been a change in who can volunteer and how often.

 The rising cost of living is now starting to have an impact on volunteering.  The volunteers who never claimed expenses are now claiming at least for travel, and if they can’t claim, unfortunately, they are quietly walking away. This is evident in the recent BBC story about volunteers in Stratford Upon Thames who are now reluctant to do the journey.

 At vHelp, we are constantly processing volunteer expenses and we are seeing an increase in mileage claims since the hike in the fuel prices. This may be worrying for charities, but we believe the value your volunteers bring is much higher than the cost of expenses. 


The Price of Fuel


The fuel price increase particularly impacts volunteers supporting charities in rural areas where the only way to get by is to drive and most journeys are more than 10 miles. Those volunteers are often pensioners who take joy in their regular weekly volunteering, they are reliable and consistent sources of support for the charity. 

 Our research shows that there are still 8% of charities that don’t pay volunteer expenses. We often hear the quote “our volunteers don’t claim expenses” which sadly implies they have one demographic of volunteers, the affluent middle class. But that’s not the only problem, charities with a complicated expense claiming process, where reimbursement takes a long time, puts volunteers off too. 


The Importance of Reimbursing Your Volunteer’s Expenses

The thing about volunteers is they are not employees; they don’t make demands so if we don’t talk about a sensitive topic like the reimbursement of expenses they won’t. The consequence is the risk of losing them and starting the volunteer recruitment process all over again. 

If your charity wants to retain and attract engaged volunteers then it’s important to talk about expenses, especially if you aspire for a diverse pool of volunteers. 

 vHelp provides a full volunteer expense solution where the volunteers can claim via the web or mobile apps, once approved by the charity the volunteer is reimbursed within 24 hours.

How Can I Create a Volunteer Expenses Policy For My Charity?

More and more organisations are starting to pay volunteer expenses, especially with the current rate of inflation and petrol prices increasing. The most important benefit of paying volunteer expenses is inclusion; by ensuring your volunteers are reimbursed quickly you are widening the pool of your volunteers and opening up volunteering to people from various backgrounds.   

How the cost-of-living crisis is impacting patient retention in clinical trials

Medical research and clinical trials are crucial for the future of healthcare and the development of new treatments.  Those trials could not happen without people willing to take part and commit to the end of the trial.