Can You Force Volunteerism?
“Although I would like to say ‘anything that gets more people to volunteer more often is a good thing,’ I think that we must strongly consider the ramifications of any action that seeks to mandate that which should be freely given.”
So wrote Jeremy Gregg recently in a post on The Raiser’s Razor blog, referring to the proposal by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) to require high-school students to participate in volunteer service.
Gregg listed some of the downsides he sees to forcing kids to volunteer, some of which are “significant inefficiencies and wasted resources”; a reinforcement of “the idea that volunteering is negative, or at least ‘not good,’” which could lead children to grow up to “affiliate volunteering with a mandatory requirement of their teenage years”; creating barriers to other volunteers; and perhaps allowing adults to “take themselves ‘off the hook’ because they think that volunteer problems are being met.”
It’s a timely topic, as we’re just a few weeks away from the Points of Light Foundation’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service here in Philadelphia.
Gregg concluded that, “what makes volunteerism such a powerful force for good is NOT the actual actions that are done, as much as the commitment and passion that are displayed through those actions. I believe that this would be lost through a program that mandates unpaid service time.”
— June 27, “Would Mandatory Service Breed Resentment or More Volunteers?” http://theraiser.blogspot.com