Time Equals Treasure (Teen)

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Youth Activity: Participants will discover how their time can equal treasure for organizations in the community. See the handout for supplemental faith-based discussion questions.

"My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years, or 4,000 hours, over the rest of your lifetime to the service of your neighbors and your nation." ~President George W. Bush

Print20 minutes

The youth will: 

  • calculate the amount of money participants donated by using their time and talent for a service project.
  • calculate how much money volunteers contribute to organizations.
  • reflect on his/her individual impact on the community.
  • realize the importance of time and talent through a “dollars and cents” perspective.


Home Connection 

During the following week, participants should make note of how they spend their day, hour by hour. Reflect on ways they could use their time to serve others.

  1. Are you surprised at the dollar value of the service project?
  2. Do you think this is an accurate figure? Why could it be low? (Most people earn more then the minimum wage, especially for skilled/specialized work)
  3. How does the country benefit from volunteerism? 
  4. How do individuals benefit from the experience of volunteering?


  1. This activity demonstrates the value of time. The facilitator explains how the value of time equals treasure and how volunteering has a monetary value. Look up online "monetary value of volunteering."

  2. Count out the amount of the current minimum wage in real money. Tell the participants that their time is worth at least this amount per hour. Ask the participants what they think the total would be if they got paid minimum wage for each of the hours they spent or will spend on a service project. (They can make a few guesses.) Tell them that although they are volunteers, their work has a value to society. Volunteerism has an economic value.

  3. Have the participants propose a method for figuring out how many hours the group spent on a service project. (Alternative: For this activity a mock or potential service project can be used instead of an already completed service project. The service project can be made up with financial figures attached.) Then have them calculate the monetary value. For example, if it took five people twenty hours to write, plan and implement the service project, what is the financial value? Make sure they count all of the participants, all of the time spent planning, traveling to the location, as well as completing the service project.

  4. After they have a figure, have them multiply it by the minimum wage. Go around the class and have them share their figures. Point out to the students that time, talents, as well as treasure, have a monetary value.

  5. Read the President Bush quotation from the purpose to the group. Explain that by using the same minimum wage amount, they will see what would happens when one person volunteers an average of 1 hour per day, for 5 days a week, and 50 weeks a year. Use the attached chart to help students with the calculations.

  6. How many years would it take to give the 4000 hours suggested by President Bush? What would the lifetime contribution in dollars be for 4000 hours of service? 

  7. Tell the group that the current population of the United States of America is close to 300 million people. Based on the numbers that the participants just calculated, what would be the total dollar amount donated each year? Allow participants time to calculate the number on their own. 

  8. Variation: 

    Place on the overhead the prepared list of local organizations and the number of volunteer hours contributed for the last year. Briefly explain what each organization does for the community.
    Assign an organization to each pair of participants. Using the minimum-wage figure, the youth calculate the dollar value volunteers contributed to the organizations by giving their time. When the students are finished, they write the figure under the heading on the overhead projector transparency that says “Value of Volunteer Hours.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.11 Analyze the impact of volunteerism on the economy of communities.
      2. Benchmark MS.11 Describe the economic impact of volunteer labor and jobs.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
      4. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how civil-society-sector giving can impact communities.