How to calculate volunteer time

We have a number of various volunteers on our Townscape Heritage project supporting a wide range of activities from attending community events to assisting our consultants in the development of a Characterisation study. Whilst some of these activities fall naturally under a HLF volunteer category i.e. Skilled/ Unskilled labour others are more unclear. If anyone has any further guidance on this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Also, when recording volunteer time the claim form requests number of volunteer days, however much work tends to be based on hours. I'd be interested to know how projects calculate their volunteer 'days'.

How many hours do you use to make a day?

Do you use your own organisations working day as a basis?

Submitted by JoR (not verified) on Thu, 06/22/2017 - 09:48


Hi Sarah,

I'd suggest you add up the hours your volunteers give and divide by 7 to get a number of days. I wouldn't agonise over the categories of labour. Our guidance gives three levels: £50 a day; £150 a day or £350 a day and suggests indicative roles but we're happy for you to make a judgement about which category bets fits your volunteers. We don't have plans to review these categories in the short term.

It's great to hear that you're successfully involving volunteers and getting that local public buy-in to your project; we know that this is a big part of what makes our heritage projects fly!


Submitted by hazell.thorogo… (not verified) on Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:30

In reply to by JoR (not verified)


Hi Jo,


I was wondering if you could expand a little further on this: when inputting volunteer hours in the portal, is it compulsory that they must be defined by individual occurence, i.e. 'Jo Bloggs, Two Hours, Fundraising 01/01/17, 0.3 of a day etc, or would it be acceptable to group activities / volunteers together to there are not so many individual details to input? We have a large volunteer base with many different lines of activities on different days and would be very helpful if we could simplify this at all.


Many Thanks

Submitted by Bscragg@nation… (not verified) on Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:58

In reply to by hazell.thorogo… (not verified)


Hi Hazell,

I can tell you what we do on Black to Green project which may help? We have a master volunteer log where every incident of volunteering is gathered and given the skill category of unskilled, skilled, professional. This is recorded in hours. Each quarter, I tot up all the hours into skill categories and divide by 7 to turn into days. I put this on a small summary excel spreadsheet which I include as an attachment to our claim. If I have any surplus hours, I keep them to add on to next quarter. On the portal, I then just enter three lines and state 'Various tasks - see attached log' for each of the three skill levels. This works for us! If HLF wanted more information or to audit, we have all the information on the Master Log.

Hope that helps.


Submitted by treasurer@wisb… (not verified) on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 22:29

In reply to by Bscragg@nation… (not verified)


I'm guessing that you only say 1 volunteer on each line?

thankyou for the answer, very helpful!

Submitted by (not verified) on Mon, 05/28/2018 - 16:31

In reply to by Bscragg@nation… (not verified)


Bethan. What form does your Master Volunteer Log take? I'm at the very beginning of a Project and want to capture as much volunteer time as possible.

Do you have anything like a spreadsheet you can share?

Submitted by treasurer@wisb… (not verified) on Wed, 11/08/2017 - 22:24


May I add that the calculation on the form takes the number of volunteers and multiplies it by the days entered - so you need to divide the number of days you've calculated by the number of volunteers who took part in that activity to get the correct monetary figure at the end.


Submitted by (not verified) on Mon, 05/28/2018 - 07:48


Hello. Bethan has said this: "On the portal, I then just enter three lines and state 'Various tasks - see attached log' for each of the three skill levels.". What is this Portal and where is it? It sounds like it's in a feedback/reporting area for existing funded projects. But where can I capture volunteer hours before even a bid is submitted? I imaging I record that locally.

I guess what I'm looking for is a "Best Practice" procedure for capturing, valuing and then using volunteer time in matched funding calculations. Does this exist? Or do we all have to make up our own at the beginning of a Project? Does anyone have an example process (probably a spreadsheet I guess) for recording/valuing volunteer activity that they could share?

And lastly (sorry everyone!); where do I find what the current rates per hour/day are?

Thanks everyone.


Submitted by wjenman@somers… (not verified) on Tue, 05/29/2018 - 12:35


Hi Nick

This isn’t the big thing you’re making it – in my experience HLF are very pragmatic and don’t need lots of paperwork. As long as you have an audit trail if needed an informal system works fine.

Last things first; the rates have not changed since HLF was created , they’re £50 unskilled. £150 skilled, £350 specialist. £50/day roughly equates to minimum wage by the way.

Unskilled is your regular volunteer, £150 we used for people who were in an organisational capacity or other position of responsibility. So organising a team of volunteers, putting together a major event such as a concert, or perhaps say a qualified teacher volunteering as a family activity leader with the Wildlife Trust. We didn’t have any £350/day types but my understanding is that that is for lawyers, surveyors, architects, and other expensive professionals working pro bono for your project.

The portal is the on-line claim form.  You won’t have access to that until you have a project in delivery, but trust me when I say that you want to keep data entry as simple as you can. It may have changed since I did my last LPS claim, but you simply entered something like task(s) done, date(s), #vol days, and rate you were claiming at (£50/£150/350). HLF were quite happy with simplifications – organising a village festival, or an archaeological dig, say, would be a number of tasks over a date range all lumped together. I HLF day = 7 hours.

Behind that we had a simple form for volunteers or task organisers to fill in on the day, with names, date(s) and hours worked.  There was no requirement for contact details so no Data Protection issues arose.  There’s no standard form – we did sometimes have to remind delivery partners of the importance of getting these forms completed and returned to us, and so I agree it would add helpful status to the data collection process if there was an official HLF form, but there isn’t.

As someone else mentioned in a previous message, I also just summarised all these records into a very simple excel spreadsheet I created, as much for my own information as anything else, and attached that to the claim.  It also handily translated the total number of hours into HLF 7 hour days-worth.

We offered to send HLF copies of the original forms but they never wanted them.

Two other bits of advice;

Be clear who is a volunteer and who is a beneficiary. They can’t be both, not at the same time.  So say you’re doing a dig, the organisers from a local historical group (getting landowner permissions, booking the loos, preparing rotas, setting up and closing down the site) would be volunteers, but all the ordinary people who turn up to learn about hands-on archaeology are beneficiaries. Likewise if you’re training existing volunteers, for those days they are beneficiaries of the training, you can’t count that as volunteer time as well.

Be clear in your own mind about volunteer numbers as outcome (“great success, 300 people volunteered for the project, twice as many as expected!”) and volunteers as part of your financial model (“we have to get 100 vol days or we’ll have a shortfall in partnership funding”).  I would strongly recommend that you’re conservative in your estimates as far as the financial model goes. The project manager wants to be able to focus on delivering a great project on time and on budget, not spending the 3 years worrying about whether they will ever be able to meet their volunteer time claim target.

Oh, one final thing. You’ll obviously plan what your volunteers are going to do when you’re working out how much time they’ll contribute to the project and its finances. But if in the end they contribute in other ways instead, that’s fine.  Less on one task, more time spent on another, is not a problem.  I’d ask your grants officer about a really major change, just as you would with cash spend, but as long as the vols are still contributing to the achievement of the approved purposes their time will still count.  

Hope this helps.

Submitted by (not verified) on Tue, 05/29/2018 - 17:27

In reply to by wjenman@somers… (not verified)


Brilliant! Many thanks for such practical help. Nick