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Is volunteering always about money? Who is a true volunteer?
18 January 2006, 18:44
by Editor, World Volunteer Web

We would like to thank our readers who have shared their comments on the issue: “Is volunteering only for the rich and privileged?” The following two articles, which raised the issue, have received many comments, some of the readers expressing their desire to volunteer:

Volunteer in Yemen? ‘Please be serious!’  [28 comments]

Is volunteering just for the privileged few? [25 comments]

Among the many points made by our readers are: Why is not poor people’s voluntary contribution in their own communities considered part of volunteering? Should not governments and the rich sponsor the less privileged to enable them to volunteer outside their own communities? Is there enough awareness or advertising at all of volunteering opportunities?

Who is the true volunteer – somebody who has “less” but gives more? Isn’t it enough to “spare” some months or years of your life to help others to be called a volunteer? Do you really have to give until it “hurts” to be the true volunteer? Or as one reader said, “(volunteering) should be based on true love?”

Most of those who submitted comments are in agreement that volunteering benefits both the community and the volunteers themselves. In this note, readers started commenting on volunteers’ sincerity and motives. Being a UN Volunteer, for example, has become a springboard to launching a career in the international development arena. Does that mean that these volunteers, having set their eyes on an international career, are less sincere?  As another reader put it: “Volunteering is always about money.” Is it?

Yes, volunteers intend to do good, but as one commentator asks, “what kind of volunteerism is that when after meeting poor people they return to their 5-star hotels?”

Readers started to look at the UN for answers: “Can the UN provide incentives for voluntary work without necessarily becoming a UN Volunteer?”

It’s amazing to observe how little it took, two articles to be precise, to hit what seems to be a raw nerve in the world of volunteering. And although there are more “raw nerves” to be discussed in this field, one of the more significant question that surfaced during this discussion was, “How do I become a volunteer?”

The issue has also triggered a conversation not only in our discussion forum Speaker’s Corner, but also in other forums such as CyberVPM.

Read Jayne Cravens' posting “Appallingly limited view of volunteering” in our Volunteer Blog.

What do you think? We’d like to know your opinion. Read what other readers are saying and share your thoughts using the comments feature at the end of the articles. You can also vote in our opinion poll on this issue.