How do we increase volunteering?Usually, about one in ten people volunteer to help in the community.  What are some possible reasons that you think may prevent people from volunteering?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that some level of clarification might be needed.  While I agree that more can be done on the level of volunteering and "giving back" in a selfless manner, I that the 10% marker might be a bit misleading.  Overall, there is a large spirit of volunteerism present.  I think that there is a valid point there in that it could be more and there could be more given.  One reason why there might be inertia could be due to a current challenging economic crisis.  Individuals migh not be able to volunteer as much because of the demands being made on their own senses of self at this time.  If someone has to work multiple jobs in order to maintain economic order, then this takes away from time to volunteer.  Along these lines, from a psychological point of view, the current economic crisis might foster a world view that is retreating and isolating.  It might be a situation where individuals feel so challenged and threatened by the current state of affairs that the desire to step outside one's sense of self and move beyond this to help others is not fully understood in this setting.  On a larger level, it is always more difficult being able to convince other people to sacrifice something from their own senses of self to help another without benefit to them.  Like all gifts, this is a practice that if not properly embraced will not bear fruit.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reason that people do not volunteer is because they do not see a benefit to volunteering that outweighs the costs of volunteering (the time and the effort).

This means that people have to be shown that there is some benefit to volunteering.  In order for this to happen, they need to be shown the ways in which volunteering could help people who actually matter to them.  To increase volunteerism, we would need to have people feel that more other people matter -- we would have to instill a sense of community. Once people feel that the lives of other people in their community matter to them, they will volunteer more.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tendency by schools in recent years has been to require community service of high school graduates.  While this is well intended, it does little to engender a feeling of responsibility to society and other Americans.  You cannot teach intrinsic values with purely extrinsic motivators (or in this case, demotivators).

I also like the Americorps program, which helps people pay for college by serving for a year in a volunteer effort.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
People have to find something they are passionate about. That's hard to legislate. Again, education is important. We need to teach kids the importance of volunteering while they are in school and show them how to find opportunities and find the time. Hopefully, it's a habit they will grow with.
petulisa1 | Student

I think people initially volunteer as a direct response to a personal connection. This is often  a "this affects me directly" response. The broader altruistic response to volunteering in a school, local community or globally grows from this initial involvement and the sense of satisfacton that ensues. As a result, the sooner that students and children can be encouraged to become involved in small, self satisfying volunteer projects, the better the chance that volunteering behavior will increase as they get older. People like to be acknowledged for good deeds even when the good deeds themselves become a reward. There are lots of excuses offered by those who do not volunteer, but I feel that my initial thought, "this affects me directly" and can inversely affect my life is a powerful starter.. People initiaillyvolunteer when they feel THEY can make a difference and when it is affordable, in terms of time and finances..

micpie94 | Student

Well, people most often volunteer when it is for a cause that is near and dear to them. Personally, I participated in a Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation walk. I only recently became involved in this organization because my girlfriend has type 1 diabetes. I also donate money to the Joslin Diabetes Center. If I had never met my girlfriend, then I probably would never have taken the time to even recognize these organizations, let alone volunteer.

Also, I think people don't volunteer is because they may be shy. Volunteering may be a bit overwhelming when you don't have people that you know there with you. To overcome thid, people should ask their friends if they will join in with them in whatever activity the volunteering venture may be.

Sometimes, people don't know about volunteering avtivities. Like previously stated, had I not known my girlfriend, I wouldn't be volunteering for these organizations.  While JDRF makes theirself known quite well, Joslin still fails to connect to the general public. Organizations need to make themselves known. Flyers can be handed out or hung up on bulletin boards in local grocery stores. Last month a recruiter for Homerwork House, an organization that provides a place for young students to come after school to get free tutoring for their homework, asked me to volunteer to be a tutor. I gladly accepted.

Volunteering is a necessary activity to keeping our communities strong. People needed to stand up, lend a hand and help make a difference.