The Sad State of Volunteering

It seems to me that the value of volunteering has gone down from work that is done simply out of the kindness of one’s heart and in order to help another with no expectation of getting something in return to a something done simply in order to fulfill a requirement in an organization. Most people these days don’t say “Hey, I need to volunteer and make the community a better place” but rather “Hey, I need some hours”.

And before we go any further, let me state that I’m not saying that one should not be recognized for their service, I’m simply saying that a signature on a piece of paper with a number of hours should not be one’s only impetus for volunteering.

But sadly that is what it is today (obviously this statement does not necessarily apply to each and every circumstance). Service is not done for the joy it brings to our hearts, but simply so that we remain in good-standing with the National Honor Society. It seems to me that these hour requirements are destroying the true meaning of volunteering and instead transforming it into a transaction of sorts – a transaction just as mundane as buying a pack of gum from a corner store.

So I propose that all hour requirements be removed from any organization that currently requires them. Now many may argue that this will decrease service output. To respond to this, I will refer to the list of service hours and activities for my National Honor Society chapter. Going down that list yields things like “Helped Aunt Move In” for 5 hours (which is half the total requirement of one semester) or taking myself as an example: “Math Club Registration Booth” in which I literally sat at a table, did my summer math table and yelled at a few people passing by to join Math Club. Then I see things like “Choir Car Wash” and “Theater Car Wash” which, to me, seem to be a little bit of double dipping, if not outright immoral. On one hand you are working to get money for an organization in order to fund your activities (which is perfectly fine) but on the other hand you are reporting that as service. That’s analogous to someone reporting the work they do for a living as community service. Which…is totally absurd. So yeah, perhaps those not genuinely interested will stop volunteering, but will it really make any real difference in society? I don’t think so.

And with these silly requirements gone, I think people genuinely interested in serving others will be able to take on projects with much greater societal impact, without having to worry about getting some little piece of paper signed.

I think that this is worth experimenting upon. We can take two schools with a similar output of volunteer hours and remove all requirements from one. At the end of a few years, we can evaluate for which school had the greatest social benefit.

Disclaimer: I honestly do not mean to demean any form of volunteering, even the examples I chose. All I wish to do is ask us all to reevaluate what service currently means in our society, and if needed work towards reforming that.


One response to “The Sad State of Volunteering

  1. Aditya Srinivasan

    Hey Tejas! I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m Aditya Srinivasan. I used to go to MTS classes.
    I agree with you…Volunteering has merely become a burden to most people, rather than a a true commitment to our community.

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