Volunteering is a particularly problematic part of the index, both in terms of the lack of reported activity and the differing methods used to report. As can be seen from the next table, the majority of organisations either do not report volunteer hours at all or report only a financial value equivalent.
Some report only direct volunteer hours; others include management time on top. Furthermore, organisations do not disclose the formula used to calculate financial value, making it impossible to compare, or to calculate a directly comparable value for organisations where only hours or days are reported. To capture some financial value where only hours or days are reported, a simple formula has been employed and the value included in the organisation’s overall impact figure.
However, it appears that this formula returns a lower financial value than when an organisation calculates the value itself.
This, the overall weakness of data on volunteering, and the fact that some organisations account for management time in addition to direct volunteer hours, skews the overall picture of community investment. The smaller co-operatives and smaller supermarkets in particular suffer from this situation.
The index could be greatly improved by more, and more standardised, reporting in future years and by disclosure of formulae for calculating financial value. Of the co-operatives contacted for this research, one – Midlands Co-operative – has stated that: “There is some volunteering happening, but, to date, this has not been recorded or measured. Now that there is a more formal CSR strategy in place, it will be measured in future years.”
There is undoubtedly volunteer activity going on in many more co-operatives which is not measured or reported. Those co-operatives which would like to start measuring can use the information on the final page as a guide for getting started.