Is Service the Same as Volunteerism?
Posted by Allison Fine on July 6, 2010
Roger Carr, a terrific free agent activist, asked an interesting question on Twitter about The Networked Nonprofit. He wondered why equate the required service of students with volunteerism. Are they really the same thing, Roger asked.
It’s a great question because by definition required service isn’t voluntary. Our reasoning for calling it volunteerism is because the actual work that kids do for nonprofit organizations in middle and high school is the work that volunteers do. In the long run, the habits and benefits of serving in the role of volunteers becomes a habit of volunteerism. The Corporation for National and Community Service has a wealth of longitudinal data on the positive benefits to young people of service and the continued volunteerism of many in college and beyond. In other words, what begins as mandatory in secondary school turns into volunteerism later in life.
Roger is absolutely right that this is an imperfect analogy. In addition the notion of young people becoming volunteers after high school because of service requirements doesn’t hold across all income groups. The positive benefits are primarily born by children from higher incomes who can afford to spend time after high school volunteering. Mobilize.org’s efforts on community college campuses through a program called GenerationEngage has demonstrated how stretched for time young people not enrolled in four-year universities are, and that this stretch precludes volunteering as an option for them.
This entry was posted on July 6, 2010 at 6:59 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: Mobilize.org, Roger Carr, The Corporation for National and Community Service, The Networked Nonprofit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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