Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Few Words on Volunteering

One thing I've noticed over the past decade is the steep drop off in people volunteering for various causes.  Maybe because I am living in a big city now instead of a small town?  Maybe because the lack of volunteers is glaringly obvious because our 60 year old volunteers from a decade ago are now 70 years old and cutting back/quitting their volunteer activities due to a variety of reasons?

Years ago it seemed like volunteering was something everyone did.  People of all ages--from kids to seniors--seemed to volunteer for everything from school and church activities to community events and hobby activities.  I remember my grandmother volunteering, my mother volunteering, and as soon as I was old enough, I volunteered which carried through until now when I still volunteer for several causes and activities.

Unfortunately, I've also noticed that in many of my clubs and community activities, I am usually the youngest volunteer and the average age of participants is around 70+ years of age!  And this isn't just a problem around here.  This pastor wrote an obituary for the demise of his church's annual lutefisk dinner, and finding volunteer EMTs is an ongoing problem for many of the EMS agencies that I work with (you really don't want a 70 year old volunteer EMT on one end of your gurney and a 75 year old volunteer on the other!).

I'm not sure what the problem is other than people's attention is on other things (working? staying home online?) but in volunteer circles it is a big concern (examples here, here, and here).  I know that people have to work hard for the money they earn and may be tired after a day of working and not want to get involved in anything they aren't getting paid for but there are a lot of good things about volunteering including good experience to put on your work resume, the opportunity to help those in need, getting some cool bonuses for volunteering (I volunteered for a couple of days at a genealogy conference then got to attend the rest of the conference for free), and the opportunity to learn new things (I started out learning web design for a non profit then used those skills to start my own business!).

Hopefully something will change and volunteerism will see a resurgence where more people come out and help those in need in their communities!


  1. I hate to say it, but you answered your own question. People work, and many work hard for low paying jobs and are just too tired to volunteer. I know I am. Also in today's political climate, people in need are being blamed for their situation and some people see helping them out as just another hand out. I've heard murmurs in my area of people that sign up to buy holiday gifts for poor kids and then complain that the kids are asking for expensive toys/video games that they'll probably just sell for drug money. It's sad.

    1. I guess times have changed...I just don't want these kinds of (negative) changes :(

  2. I'm at a point in my life where I will donate significantly more than the time I can commit. I'm hoping to swap this balance soon. My work schedule is unpredictable, which can make consistent volunteering challenging. There was one great option that worked well but has since been replaced by technology (a good thing, I suppose), but since then, I've struggled to find a good alternative.