Volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others without being motivated by financial or material gain. Volunteering generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. People also volunteer to gain skills without requiring an employer's financial investment.
Volunteering takes many forms and is performed by a wide range of people. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work in, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others volunteer on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster.
Benefits of volunteering
There are three major benefits of volunteering:
- Economic benefits: activities undertaken by volunteers that would otherwise have to be funded by the state or by private capital, so volunteering adds to the overall economic output of a country and reduces the burden on government spending.
- Social Benefits: volunteering helps to build more cohesive communities, fostering greater trust between citizens and developing norms of solidarity and reciprocity that are essential to stable communities.
- Individual Career Benefits: graduates can meet people and gain work experience through volunteering, and, it helps school students for scholarships knowing well that the judges are impressed when a resume lists volunteer work.
The social capital represented by volunteering plays a key role in economic regeneration. Where poverty is endemic to an area, poor communities lack friends and neighbors able to help. This, voluntary mutual aid or self-help is an important safety net. This model works well within a state because there is a national solidarity in times of adversity and more prosperous groups will usually make sacrifices for the benefit of those in need.
Skills-based volunteering refers to volunteering in which the volunteer is specifically trained in the area they are volunteering in. This is in contrast to traditional volunteering, where specific training is not required. The average hour of traditional volunteering is valued by the Independent Sector at between $18-20 an hour. Skills-based volunteerism is valued at $40-500 an hour depending on the market value of the time.
Micro-volunteering is a new trend in the non-profit sector whereby volunteers help out in small, convenient ways which don't require the commitment of scheduled volunteering. Regular volunteering is to micro-volunteering as a full-time job is to a contract position. Micro-volunteering is not the same as virtual volunteering, which is done exclusively from a computer. The trend aims to capture the value of skills-based volunteering with the collaboration models of projects like Wikipedia and Open Source Software.
Virtual volunteering, also sometimes called as eVolunteering is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, offsite from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer. Virtual volunteering is also known as online volunteering, cyber service, telementoring, and teletutoring, and various other names. Virtual volunteering is similar to telecommuting, except that, instead of online employees who are paid, these are online volunteers who are not paid.
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