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Volunteering is generally considered an aspect of prosocial behavior and an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. It is considered as serving the society through own interest, personal skills or learning, which in return produces a feeling of self-worth and respect, instead of money. Volunteering is also famous for skill development, to socialize and to have fun. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment or for a variety of other reasons.
Volunteering takes many forms, and can be performed by anyone with own set of skills. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work in, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Other volunteers serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster or for a beach-cleanup.
- 1 Etymology & History
- 2 Types
- 3 Political View
- 4 Criticisms
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
- 8 Further reading
Etymology & History
The verb Volunteer was first recorded in 1755, from the noun, in C.1600, "one who offers himself for military service," from M.Fr. Voluntaire. The word in the Non-military sense was first recorded during 1630s. The word Volunteering has a more recent usage, still predominantly military, coinciding with the word Community service.
In a military context, a volunteer army is a military body whose soldiers chose to enter service, as opposed to having been conscripted. Such volunteers do not work "for free" and are given regular pay.
Taking a Gap Year after High school or during college term, is also one form of volunteering, if a student is engaged in some sort of voluntary work. Career break is also considered as a form of volunteering, until involved in a voluntary work.
During 19th century and before then, few formal charitable organizations existed to help people in need.
During this time, America experienced the Great Awakening. People became conscious of the disadvantaged, and realized the cause for the movement against slavery. Younger people started helping the needy in their communities. In 1851, the first YMCA in the United States was started, followed seven years later by the first YWCA. During the Civil War, women volunteered their time to sew supplies for the soldiers.
Salvation army is one of the oldest and largest organization working for disadvantaged people. Though it is a charity organization, it has organized numbers of volunteering programs, since its inception.
20th & 21st Century
In the first few decades of the 20th century, several volunteer organizations were founded, including the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions club. The Great Depression saw one of the first large-scale, nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteering for a specific need. During World War II, thousands of volunteer offices supervised the volunteers who helped with the many needs of the military and the home front, including collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave, and caring for the injured.
After World War II, the passion of people to help others shifted focus to other areas, including helping the poor and volunteering overseas. A major development was the Peace Corps in 1960. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty in 1964. Volunteer opportunities continued to expand in the next few decades, and the process for finding volunteer work became more formalized, with more volunteer centers forming and new ways to find work appearing on the World Wide Web.
Skills-based volunteering is leveraging the specialized skills and talents of individuals to strengthen the infrastructure of nonprofits, helping them build and sustain their capacity to successfully achieve their missions. This is in contrast to traditional volunteering, where specific training is not required.
Volunteering in Developing Countries
It refers to volunteering in needy communities in developing nations. Most of the volunteers from developed countries choose the third world as their volunteering destination, and spend their time working in resource poor schools, teaching, working in orphanages and so on. Nowadays, volunteering has also been termed as an International Community service. An able volunteer will pledge their time to work in the international community, for various development activities.
- Further information: Virtual volunteering
Also called eVolunteering or Online volunteering, is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, offsite from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device, such as a PDAs or smartphone. Virtual volunteering is also known as cyber service, telementoring, and teletutoring, and various other names. Virtual volunteering is similar to telecommuting, except that, instead of online employees who are paid, these are online volunteers who are not paid.
- Further information: Micro-volunteering
It is an unpaid task that is operated via an internet-connected device and in small increments of time. It is distinct from virtual volunteering in that it typically does not require an application process or training period.
- Further information: Environmental volunteering
It refers to volunteers who contribute towards environmental management or conservation. Volunteers conduct a range of activities including environmental monitoring, ecological restoration such as re-vegetation and weed removal, protecting endangered animals, and educating others about the natural environment.
Giant Panda Conservation program in Xi'an and Sichuan, China is a famous endangered animals protection program. Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries conservation program attracts huge foreign support and volunteers.
Volunteering in an Emergency
Volunteering plays a pivotal role in the recovery effort following natural disasters, such as; Tsunami, Flood, Drought, Earthquake. 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami attracted wide amount of volunteers worldwide. 227,898 people died during and after the event. Many from around the world pledged their time and effort to rebuild and save lives of millions, in the affected regions.
Volunteering in Schools
Resource poor schools around the world rely on government support, or on efforts from volunteers and private donations, in order to run effectively. In some countries, whenever the economy is down, the need for volunteers and resources increases greatly. There are many opportunities available in the school system for volunteers to take advantage of. They can add an experience in their resume and learn foreign culture and language. There are not many requirements in order to become a volunteer in the school system. Whether one is a high school or TEFL graduate or college student, most schools require just voluntary and selfless effort from them. Much like the benefits of any type of volunteering there are great rewards for the volunteer, student, and school.
Volunteering in schools can be an additional teaching guide for the students, and help to fill the gap of local teachers. Cultural and language exchange during teaching and other school activities can be the most essential learning experience for both students and volunteers.
- Further information: Volunteer grant
A majority of the companies at the Fortune 500 allow their employees to volunteer during work hours. These formalized Employee Volunteering Programs (EVPs), also called Employer Supported Volunteering, are regarded as a part of the companies' sustainability efforts and their social responsibility activities. About 40% of Fortune 500 companies provide monetary donations, also known as volunteer grants, to nonprofits as a way to recognize their employees who dedicate significant amounts of time to volunteering in the community.
According to information from VolunteerMatch, a service that provides Employee Volunteering Program solutions, the key drivers for companies that produce and manage EVPs is that it builds brand awareness and affinity, strengthens trust and loyalty among consumers, enhances corporate image and reputation, improves employee retention, increases employee productivity and loyalty and provides an effective vehicle to reach strategic goals.
Community Voluntary Work
Community volunteering refers to volunteers who work to improve community enhancement efforts in the area in which they live. Neighborhood, church, and community groups play a key role in building strong cities from the neighborhoods up. Supporting these understaffed groups can enable them to succeed in a variety of areas, which connect social, environmental, and economic boundaries. Volunteers can conduct a wide range of activities. Some choose to support a variety of groups as a "volunteer broker."
An international workcamp is an international voluntary project in which participants from different countries can meet, live, work, learn and exchange with local people concerning issues about environmental conservation, cultural heritage, social justice, rural and human development, etc. CCIVS and Group Work Foundation are few providing International Workcamps
It can be divided into short term voluntary projects (STV) and long/middle term voluntary projects (LMTV). STV projects are international workcamps for less than 2 months, while LMTV projects are those lasting 2 months or more. The most common international workcamp lasts for two weeks with a group of 10-20 overseas and local workcamp participants.
- Further information: Gift economy
In almost all modern societies, the most basic of all values is people helping people and, in the process, helping themselves However, a tension can arise between volunteering and the state-provided services, so most countries develop policies and enact legislation to clarify the roles and relationships among stakeholders and identify and allocate the necessary legal, social, administrative, and financial support. This is particularly necessary when some voluntary activities are seen as a challenge to the authority of the state, e.g. on 29 January 2001, President Bush cautioned that volunteer groups should supplement, not replace, the work of government agencies. Volunteering that benefits the state but challenges paid counterparts raises the ire of labor unions representing the paid counterparts as in the case of volunteer fire departments, particularly in combination departments.
Difficulties in cross-national aid
Difficulties in this model of volunteering can arise when this is applied across national borders. A state sending volunteers to another state can be viewed as a breach of sovereignty and a lack of respect towards the national government of the proposed recipients. Thus, when states negotiate the offer and acceptance of aid, motivations become important, particularly if donors may postpone assistance or stop it altogether. Three types of conditionality have evolved:
- Financial accountability: Transparency in the management of funding to ensure that what is done by the volunteers is properly targeted.
- Policy reform: Requesting governments of developing countries adopt certain social, economic, or environmental policies, the most controversial relating to the privatization of services traditionally offered by the state.
- Development objectives: Asking developing countries to adjust specific time-bound economic objectives
Some international volunteer organizations define their primary mission altruistically as fighting poverty and improving the living standards of people in the developing world, e.g. Voluntary Services Overseas has almost 2,000 skilled professionals working as volunteers to pass on their expertise to local people so that, when they return home, their skills remain. When these organizations work in partnership with governments, the results can be impressive. However, when other organizations or individual First World governments support the work of volunteer groups, there can be questions as to whether their real motives are poverty alleviation or wealth creation for some of the poor or policies intended to benefit the donor states. The economies of many low-income countries suffer from "industrialization without prosperity" and "investment without growth". This arises because "development assistance" guides many Third World governments to pursue "development" policies that have been wasteful, ill-conceived, unproductive or even so positively destructive that they could not have been sustained without outside support.
Indeed, some of the offers of aid have distorted the general spirit of volunteering, treating local voluntary action as "contributions in kind", i.e. as conditions requiring local people to earn the right to donor "largesse" by modifying their behavior. This can be seen as patronizing and offensive to the recipients because the aid expressly serves the policy aims of the donors rather than the needs of the recipients.
In the 1960s, Ivan Illich offered an analysis of the role of American volunteers in Mexico in his speech entitled, "To Hell With Good Intentions". His concerns, along with critics such as Paulo Freire and Edward Said, revolve around the notion of altruism as an extension of Christian missionary ideology and the sense of responsibility/obligation driving the concept of noblesse oblige, first developed by the French aristocracy as a moral duty derived from their wealth. Simply stated, these both propose the extension of power and authority over indigenous cultures around the world. Recent critiques of volunteering come from Westmier and Kahn (1996) and bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) (2004). Georgeou (2012) has critiqued the impact of neoliberalism on international aid volunteering.
The field of medical tourism (referring to volunteers traveling overseas to deliver care) has recently attracted negative criticism vis-a-vis the alternative notion of sustainable capacities (working in the context of long-term, locally-run but foreign-supported infrastructures). A preponderance of this criticism has appeared largely in the scientific and peer-reviewed literature. Recently, media outlets with more general readerships have published such criticisms as well.
- List of volunteer awards
- Military volunteer
- Etymology:VOLUNTEER. Online Etymology Dictionary. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- The origin of the word "Volunteering". Jocote.org. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- ISBN 1-86287-376-3, Volunteers and Volunteering, The Federation Press
- Need of skills based volunteering for Non-Profit activities. National Service Resources.
- Need of Voluntary Work in Developing nations. Australian AID. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- Why volunteer in Developing Countries. University of Kent (UK). URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- Online Volunteering. UN Volunteers. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- Virtual Volunteering. Service Leader. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- Micro-Volunteering via Mobile Phones - Using Spare Time to Micro-Volunteer.
- Micro Volunteering - Changing The World In Just Your Pyjamas!.
- Environmental Volunteer Work. PeaceCorps. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
- USGS Tsunami 2004 Summary. United States Geological Survey.
- Emergency Volunteering Coverage in NatGeo.. National Geographic.
- The Economy's Impact on Back to School. Great Schools. URL accessed on 2009-11-20.
- Volunteer teaching effort can help students to learn better in schools. School Mental Health Project. URL accessed on 2011-12-14.
- Volunteer teaching effort can help students to learn better in schools. School Mental Health Project. URL accessed on 2011-12-14.
- Mapping Success in Employee Volunteering - The Drivers of Effectiveness for Employee Volunteering and Giving Programs and Fortune 500 Performance (2009). Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2009. URL accessed on 2010-04-21.
- Fortune 500's monetary donation programs for voluntary service. DoubletheDonation.com. URL accessed on 2012-03-07.
- How companies benefit from EVP. VolunteerMatch.org. URL accessed on 2010-04-21.
- Community Voluntary Work. DirectGov. URL accessed on 2012-4-30.
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- Bush Announces Faith-Based Initiative
- ISBN reference for Volunteering Visions, Publisher: The Federation Press, Edited by:Joy Noble and Fiona Johnston, ISBN 1-86287-404-2 ISBN 978-1862874046
- Aid, taxation, and development: analytical perspectives on aid effectiveness in Sub-Saharan Africa. World Bank. URL accessed on 2007-07-12.
- Bezruchka, S. (2000). Medical Tourism as Medical Harm to the Third World: Why? For Whom? Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 11, 77-78.
- Roberts, M. (2006). Duffle Bag Medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 295, 1491-1492.
- Pinto, A.D., & Upshur, R.E.G. (2009). Global Health Ethics for Students. Developing World Bioethics, 9, 1-10.
- Volunteering at the Open Directory Project
- Volunteerism and legislation: a Guidance Note Inter-Parliamentary Union, United Nations Volunteers, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2004
- Georgeou, Nichole, Neoliberalism, Development, and Aid Volunteering, New York: Routledge, 2012. ISBN 9780415809153
Topics related to charity
Philanthropy - Alms - Tzedakah - Zakat - Altruism - Gift - Donation - Alternative giving
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