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The Great Big Volunteer Rip Off

Updated on July 21, 2016

What is a volunteer?

I have always thought that I knew what a volunteer was but thought it better if I checked and so I went through a dozen different Dictionary definitions. They all said more or less the same thing. I quote a few below:

"A person who performs or offers to perform a service voluntarily: an information booth staffed by volunteers; hospital volunteers."

" A person who renders aid, performs a service, or assumes an obligation voluntarily"

"A person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service"

"A person who performs voluntary work"

"A person who chooses freely to do or offer to do something"

"A person who chooses freely to enter into any transaction with no promise of compensation"

"One who enters into, or offers for, any service of his own free will."

"To enter into, or offer for, any service of one's own free will, without solicitation or compulsion; as, he volunteered in that undertaking."

"A person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking."

'A person who performs a service willingly and without pay."

They all say the same thing!

One thing they DO NOT say is that the volunteer is expected to PAY to volunteer.

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So What Do You Call Someone Who Pays?

The word 'Sucker' immediately springs to mind.

There really needs to be a new word for someone who pays to volunteer. They are NOT one and the same thing. The companies who advertise for volunteers in the glossy magazines and over the internet are actually, in my humble opinion, taking advantage of caring people.

They are also choosing to change the meaning of a word to suit their own ends.

The King Sums Up

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Conservation Volunteers

My big gripe is with the so called Conservation/Wildlfe organisations.

Their "Volunteers" are expected to pay cost of flights, pay for food, insurance and pay for accommodation (okay sometimes accommodation is free) and then work for someone for nothing.

Again the word 'Sucker' springs to mind.

I would not care if the cash generated was put directly into genuine needed and necessary Conservation Projects....but it isn't. There are a number of people in companies/charities out there making a very good living on the backs of their 'Volunteers'.

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The Saddest Part

The saddest part is that these 'volunteers' are often not needed at all. They are advertised for simply to generate cash revenue.

That is wrong! Lets be correct and use the new word.

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Submit a Comment

  • Peter Dickinson profile imageAUTHOR

    Peter Dickinson 

    9 years ago from South East Asia

    Definitely the wrong word...volunteer. I am not arguing that some charities need money to carry on good work. Sadly there is that group who bring in volunteers simply to line their own pockets. The volunteers are not needed. These are the groups I am against.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Maybe "volunteer" is the wrong word, but there is a bit of give and take here. If somebody is going to lob into a project for a week or two it is unlikely they are going to be able to contribute substantially. May well cost the organisation money, certainly time. And if food and lodging are attached? But many people want the experience, and want to feel they are putting something back. So why not charge them? More funds for the organisation, and the "volunteer" has a nice experience they couldn't get elsewhere. I guess as in everything in life there are the genuine operators and the rorters, and distinguishing between the two can be difficult.

    As for the "marketers" they exist everywhere in charity these days, from employing doorknockers and tin rattlers, to the organisers of $1000 a plate dinners. I guess the answer is to deal directly with the charity, but the middle men do give access to the masses out there who don't know how, are too lazy, or just would never have thought about it otherwise.

  • profile image

    Chris Wood 

    9 years ago

    eah sadly you are right Peter. My friend told me of an amusing but ultimately useless 'Hippo survey' volunteer opportunity he took. Basically swanning round asking Locals "did you see any Hippos"... "Oh Yes Sir, Yes Many Hippos!" Really? "How many Hippos" --- a blank look--- "OK, Did you see more than 5 Hippos", "Oh Yes Sir, More than 5 Hippos" !"10 Hippos?", -- a beaming smile--- "Oh Yes Sir 10 Hippos!" "You actually didn't see any Hippos at all did you" --- looks a bit sheepish and apologetic-- "Ah No Sir! No Hippos Sir!".

    I think on each survey form the basic Hippo number was simply scribed as "between 0-infinity Hippos". Results publication pending!


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