Shelbi Lindsmith: Volunteer Coordinator. Courtesy Photo
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The Value of Exceptional Volunteers

Volunteers give of their time and talent, but are they entirely altruistic? Of course not. 

Volunteerism, in its essence, should be a win-win situation in which the volunteer and the organization are mutually benefiting. For a nonprofit organization, it is vital that volunteers and staff unite to advance the organization towards its mission. 

At Boyce Thompson Arboretum, our volunteers are crucial to our operations. Volunteers are integrated into every department from horticulture, the gift shop, special events, membership services, interpretive walks and quite literally everything else we do! 

Typically, non-profit organizations have an operating budget that can sustain most daily operations. However, their capacity to excel is stifled when tasks are only completed by paid staff. When you add volunteers, you increase the organization’s capacity for success tenfold. 

The current estimate for the value of a volunteer’s time in Arizona is $24.83/hour. 

Let’s consider a volunteer that contributes 8 hours a week, every week of the year; hiring an employee to complete the same duties would cost over $10,000/year. Human capital is the pinnacle of capacity building. Volunteerism is a great way to mobilize this resource. 

David Pearson. Research Professor with ASU and BTA Volunteer. Courtesy Photo.

Rural areas face specific issues. However, it is their uniqueness that allows them to thrive when pursued. One unique element is the sense of pride rural areas have. This pride seems to drive folks to becoming exceptional volunteers. Exceptional volunteers are those that know the organization’s mission and work towards it through their daily actions. Exceptional volunteers also contribute where they are needed most. 


Boyce Thompson Arboretum has had a successful and robust volunteer program for numerous years due to its exceptional volunteers. BTA volunteers take pride in their tasks and in BTA as a whole. Somewhere along the way, BTA volunteers created their own community–meeting outside of the arboretum for potlucks and pool parties. Creating a community of volunteers was coincidental, but now is a large benefit to all those who give their time to BTA. 

Shelbi Lindesmith 

Volunteer and Events Coordinator 

To join the community of volunteers at Boyce Thompson Arboretum email or call (520) 689-4512. 


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