Four Steps to Tracking Volunteer Time in QuickBooks

Every organization I work with is proud to count strong volunteer support among their cornerstones of success.  Beyond the day to day assistance with the programs and administrative work, these services can be an extremely useful addition to your reporting.

Volunteer reports are particularly helpful when writing grant applications to show there is already strong support for your programs.  Additionally, many grants requiring matching funds accept volunteer hours worked toward that matching fund requirement.  It is much easier to meet a match requirement when you can use those hours, and by golly, having them already tracked in your accounting software makes the reporting a snap!  Keep in mind that volunteer time should be tracked only for work that you would have had to pay for otherwise.

Follow the steps below to set up QuickBooks to track volunteer time.  Like any new concept, it can be a little painful getting started, but once you’re through the first two steps, you’re practically done!  I recommend that you print out these instructions and refer to them while you are working in QuickBooks.  It will make a lot more sense than reading through these steps without looking at the software.

Step 1

Create a vendor type for volunteers

*       Go to the Lists menu along the top menu bar of QuickBooks

*       Select “Customer and Vendor Profile Lists” from the dropdown menu

*       Then select “Vendor Type List” from the next dropdown menu

*       Now you will see a list of Vendor Types.  To create one for your volunteers, look for the button at the bottom left corner of this window labeled “Vendor Type”.  Click that button.  Select “New” and now a window will pop up allowing you to name a new vendor type.  Type in “Volunteer” and click “OK”.

*       Now you can your volunteer names to the “Vendors” list.  Before the volunteers name, use the letters VOL, for example: VOL – Jane Doe.  This will separate your volunteers from your regular vendors.

Step 2

Create service items for the work that the volunteers perform.

*       Go back to the Lists menu

*       Select “Item List” from the dropdown menu

*       Now you will see a list of Items.  To create a new service item, look for the button at the bottom left corner of this window labeled “Item”.  Click that button.  Select “New” and now a window will pop up allowing you to set up a new service performed by your volunteers.

*       In the “New Item” window, select “Service” as the Type.

*       The Item Name/Number should be descriptive of the type of work the volunteer is performing, and prefaced with the letters VOL.  For example, if your volunteer is doing grant writing, you may create an Item Name called VOL – Grant Writing.

*       Leave the Description and Rate fields blank.

*       The Account should be set to an expense account in your Chart of Accounts named VOL – Info Only.

*       Other Item Names could reference services such as Legal, Accounting, Program Labor, etc.

Step 3

Now you’re ready to track volunteer time!

*       Go to the Employees menu – no, it doesn’t make sense, just trust me here.

*       Select “Enter Time” from the drop down menu.

*       Then select “Time/Single Activity” to enter the time worked.

*       In that window, enter the date that the work was performed.

*       The “Name” is the name of your volunteer as set up in your vendor list, for example “VOL – Jane Doe”.

*       The Customer:Job field can be left blank.

*       The Service Item is the item you set up in the Service Items list, for example “VOL – Grant Writing”.

*       The duration is the time the volunteer worked that day.

*       The Class is “Administration” if it is an administrative task, or you can also assign the time to one of your programs.  Note: You need to set up class tracking in order to assign time this way.

*       In the notes field, you can enter a description of the work performed.

Step 4

How to create your volunteer time report:

*       Go to the Reports menu.

*       Select “Jobs, Time and Mileage” from the drop down menu

*       Then select “Time by Name” from the next drop down menu.

*       A report will be created showing the time worked for everyone who time has been recorded for in the time period you have specified for the report (it defaults to the Fiscal Year to Date).

You can filter this report to show only the volunteer time worked.  To do this:

*       Click on the “Modify Report” button at the top left corner of the Report window.

*       Click on the “Filters” tab.

*       Choose the filter named “Item”

*       From the dropdown menu under the bar “Item”, select all the service items that start with “VOL”.

To memorize this report so you don’t have to go through all the steps again, just click the “Memorize” button at the top of the Report window (it’s right next to the Modify Report button).

There you go!  You should be well on your way to tracking those volunteer hours.  Be sure to have your volunteers fill out and sign a time sheet!

P.S.  If the thought of having to do this yourself leaves you in the cold, we can help!

Important Information for Nonprofits


If your nonprofit organization has not filed tax returns for the past three years (2007, 2008 and 2009), it will lose its federal tax exempt status as of May 15th, 2010.

Preliminary estimates are that 400,000 organizations are affected.

The looming deadline is a side effect of a federal bill passed in 2006 aimed at pension reform.  The required filings apply to all exempt organizations, even those with no activity.

For help with filing the required forms and keeping your exempt status, contact us at 866-916-2636 or email  If your organization had activity under $25,000 for each of the years affected, we will file the required federal paperwork for a flat fee of $30.

We can also assist with ensuring that your required state filings are up to date, as well as preparing tax returns for organizations with over $25,000 in gross receipts.  Fees vary as the requirements by state are different, but we are committed to keeping the fees as low as possible.