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May 11th, 2022

Evolving How We Calculate Catchafire’s Project Values

Here's how we scope and calculate project value.


Nava Friedman (She/Her)

2022 update to Catchafire’s project values


At Catchafire, we are continuing to refine the way we calculate Catchafire’s project values and ultimately measure our impact on the organizations we serve. We ask our volunteers to report the number of hours they actually spend on their projects, a key metric used in our short-term dollar impact estimation methodology. As of May 9, 2022, we have updated every instance of the Total Dollars Saved and Volunteer Hours Donated metrics on our platform to include actual volunteers’ reported hours whenever available for a given project. When this information is not provided by our volunteers, we default to using our estimated hours scoped for that specific project type. Our approach is detailed below.


We’ve updated the way we calculate the short-term dollar value that each of Catchafire’s engagements provide to reflect the following:

  1. An hourly rate that more accurately reflects the skills of and time donated by our highly skilled volunteer professionals
  2. A scope of hours per project completed that reflects the number of hours that volunteers actually reported that they contributed to a project. When this metric isn’t provided, we use an estimated and validated scope of hours for each project type.
  3. An estimated and validated cost for project scoping
  4. An estimated and validated cost for talent sourcing

As a result, we’ve seen an average increase in dollar value of 55% for projects and 79% for phone calls. We believe this new methodology better reflects the true value that volunteer professionals provide — and organizations receive — when getting work done through Catchafire.


Introduction

At Catchafire, we are committed to connecting social good organizations with talented volunteer professionals, enabling them to complete critical work that will strengthen organizations’ operations and help them to better deliver on their missions. The value of these engagements is multi-fold: the short-term dollar value of the work completed, the development of new relationships and networks, the long-term impact of the work completed, and the growth of new skills. Catchafire projects and calls provide meaningful outcomes for everyone: the nonprofit professionals, their organizations, and the volunteers. One way Catchafire communicates the short term impact is through an estimate of the value created through each engagement. These short-term dollar impact estimates are used by volunteers to understand the value of their donated time and provide nonprofits with a measurement tool for the work they are investing in to strengthen their organization.

We periodically review our short-term dollar impact estimation methodology to ensure that we are fully and accurately capturing the value of the work being completed. We just pushed our latest updates live to our platform on 5/9/22.

Summary of Methodology

We approached our new methodology systematically by breaking down the value of the work being completed into three dimensions: Project or Call Value, Project Scoping, and Talent Sourcing. We then combined the value of these dimensions to arrive at holistic value estimates for each type of engagement.

Project or Call Value — the value of the project itself, corollary to cost savings or value donated.

We started by mapping the skills needed to complete each project or call to professional areas and levels of expertise, based on reputable third party sources¹ to determine the appropriate hourly rate. We then reviewed each project to ensure that we were properly assigning the number of hours needed to complete the work, which resulted in an estimated dollar value. To validate our estimations, we referenced the level of experience of our existing volunteers and survey data from volunteers in which they shared the number of hours they spent on a project. For projects where we’ve received the actual number of hours volunteers donated, we’ve used this metric instead of using estimated hours. For calls, survey data from volunteers showed that they spent one hour on the call itself and an additional one hour for preparation and post-call follow up, totaling two hours.

Project Scoping — the value of the project scope that Catchafire provides.

Helping nonprofits articulate their needs effectively and efficiently is one of our core values. However, historically, we have not included this service in our dollar value estimations. In our new methodology, we have conducted research into the level of effort required to create a thorough project scope and timeline, including tracking the time required to develop 15+ projects we recently added, which generally took 4–6 hours each, inclusive of reviews and revisions by several staff members. This analysis resulted in a conservative estimate of two hours, which we multiplied by the hourly rate for each project derived from the Project Value methodology to determine the value of Project Scoping. For calls, we assumed no Project Scoping value because these engagements are less defined in nature.

Talent Sourcing — the value of the volunteer professional sourcing that Catchafire provides.

Another critical function of the Catchafire platform is that not only are projects pre-scoped, but Catchafire is able to source from a highly talented pool of volunteer professionals ready to donate their time and capabilities. If an organization were to source talent on their own through another channel, they would likely pay a fee to access a sourcing service and the support of their human resources (HR) team to help review the job posting, post it on various channels, and review candidates. For the access fee, our research indicated a range of $150–300 with a median of $300. We applied a flat fee of $150 and we estimated 2 hours of HR support to roll out the position to be conservative on both costs. For calls, we did not include HR support hours as a reflection of the ad hoc nature of these conversations.

Conclusion & Future Updates

By updating our methodology and reviewing all estimates on hourly rate completion times for projects and calls, we saw an average increase in short-term dollar value of 55% across all projects and 79% across calls. Some projects and calls decreased in value and others simply stayed the same. Our goal was not to change the values, but to ensure that we have a more robust methodology that resulted in more accurate values.

We expect to continue to hone our methodology for capturing and reporting the impact of Catchafire’s engagements, and programs overall, in service of our goals to both strengthen the social good ecosystem and to clearly report on the impact we are making.


¹ Service Performance Insight report on consulting rates across several types and CECP+Taproot Report on “Defining and Valuing Pro Bono Service”