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HALO Award Insights

Ten years of investing in volunteer programs has taught us about the power of and returns on investment in volunteerism.

While we invite you to explore all of the learnings on the HALO Insights page, we’ve indicated the following sections as particularly applicable for:

Individuals =


Nonprofits =


Funders =




Volunteerism: A Force for Good

Volunteers provide incredible value to the social sector. Data shows that volunteers provide added value and leveraged dollars to nonprofit organizations, yielding cost savings and increased returns.  



Adults Volunteered Through an Organization


Total Hours of Volunteer Service


Economic Value


Of Volunteers Made Charitable Gifts

Based on data from the United States in 2017. [Source]

HALO: By the Numbers

Over the past ten years, the HALO Award has impacted…

By the Numbers


Service Planning Areas (SPAs) in L.A. County


Individuals Recognized for Exemplary Volunteer Service


Nonprofits from a Wide Range of Program Areas


Volunteers Working to Deliver on the Nonprofits’ Missions

While HALO organizations have a wide range of budgets, staff sizes, and volunteer corps, on average, the organizations had:




Full-time Staff


Operating Budget

HALO organizations engage volunteers to address a wide range of social sector needs. To date, here are the number of HALO nonprofits that work in each of 9 main program areas:



 Homeless Services

4Workforce Development.png


 Workforce Development

7 Early Childhood Education.png


 Early Childhood Education

2Health and Mental Health.png


 Health & Mental Health

5 Arts and Culture.png


 Arts & Culture

8 Legal Services.png


 Legal Services

3College Access and Success.png


 College Access & Success

6 K-12 Education.png


 K–12 Education

9 Environment.png



What We’ve Learned

What We’ve Learned

Capacity Built in Volunteer Programs

Over the years, program participants report significant growth in their volunteer management capacity, demonstrating capacity growth averages +16% from baseline during the program and +2% in the year immediately following.

To see continued growth—even after formal program support has ended—is further confirmation of the value and effectiveness of investing in volunteerism.


What does increased capacity look like in practice?

In their HALO Stories, participants share how they are able to do more by investing in their volunteer programs.

What We’ve Learned

Effective Volunteer Practices

We took a closer look at HALO organizations who reported substantially improved volunteer program capacity. Our review revealed four key volunteer management practices:

Hone an understanding of the volunteer experience

Understanding the volunteer experience helps to reveal both opportunities to leverage volunteers and key growth points that need to be addressed.

Match volunteers’ skills and/or interests with the organization’s needs

An ability to match volunteers well can support volunteer satisfaction and retention while also prioritizing work that supports the organization in meeting its mission.

Develop and use a written volunteer management plan

Much like a strategic plan for your organization, a volunteer management plan distills goals, strategies, and activities, and the process of developing a plan expands the conversation to other departments.

Collect and use data in volunteer programs with deliberate, strategic intent

Data can inform decision-making around seemingly intractable issues related to the volunteer program or highlight areas ripe for further growth or development. 

Image by Biel Morro

“At the beginning of our [HALO] year, we didn’t understand how important volunteers were to getting the work of [our organization] done.”

– Cohort 8 Participant

What We’ve Learned

Impact on Organizations

Preliminary data shows that building capacity of volunteer programs has the added effect of impacting the overall capacity of nonprofit organizations. 

Past program participants report that their leaders are able to better integrate volunteerism throughout their organization.

For example:

  • Budgeting volunteer program costs within other organizational programs

  • Engaging program staff to inform/improve the volunteer experience

  • Including volunteers as a component of the organization's strategic plan

The Value of Evaluation & Learning

As a learning organization, the Foundation uses evaluation to learn and evolve our investment in building volunteer program capacity to increase the impact for nonprofit organizations.

Image by Will H McMahan

We make it a practice to:

  • Listen to community voices

  • Invest in systematic data collection

  • Refine the program design based on what we’ve learned

cohort 6 pls working.jpg

The multi-year assessment and other participant feedback helped the Foundation:

  • Identify opportunities to grow and strengthen the program

  • Demonstrate that we are reaching our intended goals

  • Provide evidence of sustained impact

The Value

Community Voices Shape Our Model


Grantees Drive Innovations

Inspired by participant feedback and assessment findings, we develop activities, collaborative tools, and templates to take their learning even further and support their capacity building work and relationship building.


Volunteer Committee Guides Recipient Selection

The Foundation values voices in our community to inform and guide important decisions. Each year since 2010, a new Selection Committee comprised of local nonprofit and foundation leaders volunteer their time, thoughtfulness, and expertise to support the HALO cohort selection process. 

Community Voices


We hope to inspire volunteers and empower nonprofits and funders to make strategic investments in volunteer programs. While this work takes time, continued investments can have an outsized effect on a nonprofit’s ability to meet its mission.

There is still more work to be done.

Join us and take action—in your own way—to engage the power of volunteerism in your local community.

We welcome you to reach out and have a dialogue with Foundation staff or trustees.


HALO Award Stories

Volunteer, nonprofit professional, Selection Committee member,  foundation staff—each of us has a Story to tell.

Take Action

Inspired to start volunteering? Interested in utilizing HALO insights for your own organization? Looking to invest in volunteer programs?

Apply for HALO

Ready to take your volunteer program to the next level? Find out about our next application cycle and consider applying.

Share Your Feedback

We would greatly appreciate your feedback on HALO Stories in this short survey.

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