Volunteering is becoming more and more important. With the rise of conflict in different parts of the world, underprivileged people living below their means and people who simply need an extra helping hand, this act of service is vital.
What can we say about volunteerism? Greek philosopher Aristotle once said: “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”
As an effect of their contribution, volunteers reap great rewards.
By volunteering, you can acquire new skills and experiences, as well as make professional connections. Furthermore, volunteering adds to the sense of community. This kind of unity in one place makes for that feel-good and secure feeling.
So what are the different motivations behind volunteering? What makes someone want to spend their free time serving others without getting paid?
There are two reasons that contribute to this: intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors. With intrinsic factors, the volunteer can find significant satisfaction in what they do because this motivation is dependent on the person’s internal values. Because of this, the individual will feel good about themselves, thus making them want to do volunteer work again and again.
Extrinsic factors are external reasons that will benefit the individual, either in the moment or somewhere down the road. Extrinsic factors can be negative due to the motivational drivers behind it. Some reasons can be career advancement or stronger societal ties.
In the world of volunteerism, can one complain about people who fall into this category? There are students who have to put in hours for a course requirement, people who opt to do community service rather than paying off their ticket or those who volunteer because it “looks good on a resume.”
Honestly, if personal benefit is the motivation, it will show — particularly with the lack of enthusiasm.
Think of it this way, if you feel like you have to do something for the sake of getting it done, rather than doing something out of passion, then the result will be lacklustre. Engagement is inspired by authenticity — if an individual’s eagerness is intrinsically motivated then it will shine through in the work that they do.
I have seen it firsthand when two people are doing the same volunteer job side by side, knowing one is intrinsically motivated while the other extrinsically. Nothing irritates me more than someone who displays distaste over doing mundane tasks — and failing miserably to be successful in the job at hand — just because they can’t see how they benefit from it.
What keeps my motivations in check is my volunteering experience from a trip to India in the summer of 2017. There, we spent time with a small community to help build a school for children who would walk for kilometers, rain or shine, just to get an education.
A trip like this truly opened my eyes to the realities of this world, and I realized how blessed I am to be in the position to give to those in need. These kinds of experiences also challenge me to explore my own abilities and how I can effectively utilize them. These opportunities serve as a reminder that there is someone else out there who is in more need than I am.
Volunteering has amazing benefits both for those in need and for the volunteers themselves. So next time you extend a helping hand, remember who is in a lucky position and who is the one in need.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro
Graphic: Mỹ Anh Phan