Dear Perfect Stranger,
“Lots of people think they are charitable if they give away their old clothes and things they don’t want. It isn’t charity to give away things you want to get rid of and it isn’t a sacrifice to do things you don’t mind doing.” – Mrytle Reed, author
This quote has got me thinking about the way people approach volunteering and the non-profit sector especially in light of new social media and the ability to ‘click’ for a cause. Should people be reaching some sort of threshold of commitment and/or understanding before endorsing an idea or cause? Have social networking users created another meaningless activity out of joining groups and supporting causes using tools like facebook?
Let’s extend this issue to the world outside of social networks. Many people have good intentions when it comes to the non-profit sector but lack an understanding and/or commitment to the task. Especially in the younger, adolescent, student generation, notions of volunteerism and donation have become the norm. Peer pressure to donate money to a cause runs high in lecture halls as jars are passed around by friends. Everyone believes their cause is the most important so it becomes impossible not to dig into your pockets for some change.
Student or adolescent caring and volunteering is also telling of the passive role that we take when it comes to involvement in the non-profit sector. Consider the most common roles that adolescents take in volunteering. Usually, this involves anything from setting up and manning booths to helping organize small-scale fundraising and awareness events. Undoubtedly, these are all necessary roles for any successful group or event but, one must also note the lack of engagement of the larger population. This lack of engagement has implications for the sustainability of the projects being presented. In my opinion, these non-committal roles that adolescent student volunteers are often engaged in actually hinders the development of leadership skills and other character building opportunities that are offered by participating more actively. That isn’t to say I won’t be going back to playing those same non-committal roles, just that I hope to participate more actively. What do you think?
Your friendly picker upper 🙂