Why people volunteer in their community - Essay Example

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This is by far a very elementary need of man, which is essential for his survival. It is perhaps this need of man, to be in constant touch with others to fulfill his own needs,…
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Why people volunteer in their community
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10 October Why People Volunteer in their Community Man, being a “social animal”, regularly interacts and co-operates with others of his own species. This is by far a very elementary need of man, which is essential for his survival. It is perhaps this need of man, to be in constant touch with others to fulfill his own needs, which leads to altruism. Altruism is the tendency to work or act for the welfare of others even if it costs something to the doer. Volunteering in community activities is indomitably considered as an altruistic act. However, a comprehensive analysis of the main motives of volunteers may not support this belief. In fact, studies such as those by Serow (1991) and Bussell & Forbes (2002), which investigated the many ulterior motives for involvement in community services, reveal that people volunteer out of both altruistic as well as self-centered motives.
The welfare and service of others lies at the heart of any volunteering act. People actively participate in community services to obtain self-satisfaction and pleasure, which is addictive! Volunteering to participate in community activities is considered an act of charity. Studies that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study changes in brain activity reveal that the centers of the brain which are stimulated when a person receives a reward or experiences pleasure are also activated when a person gives charity (Oppenheimer and Olivola 6). Another study by Meier and Stutzer (2008, qtd. in Oppenheimer and Olivola) suggests that volunteering increases well-being and “overall life satisfaction” (6). It is thus evident that volunteering is pleasurable and increases satisfaction, which is why people often engage in it.
People also volunteer in community service to benefit professionally or educationally. Several business organizations such as Bain & Company promote or organize community services to introduce employees to “fresh ideas and new people” (“Community Volunteering”). Employees of such organizations participate voluntarily or involuntarily, as they cannot risk avoiding the company’s mandates. Students also volunteer in community activities to add weight-age to their college applications or get a scholarship. Scholarships such as the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award are exclusively awarded based on the candidates’ participation in community services and volunteering activities (“Community Service Scholarships”). It can be stated that some people volunteer to “gain an advantage” at a place of work or study.
Peer pressure is another significant reason why people volunteer in community activities. Many people are known to volunteer in community service because their parents, teachers or friends ask them to. As reported by a USA Gallup study, people who are asked to volunteer are “more than four times” likely to volunteer than those who are not (as qtd. in Bussell and Forbes 11). Thus, most people volunteer when their near and dear ones ask them to do so.
While some people volunteer in community activities for reasons other than altruism, many of them do keep the welfare of others as a primary objective. It can thus be concluded that the reasons for volunteering in community services may be both altruistic as well as self-centered.
Works Cited
Bussell, H. and Deborah Forbes. “Understanding the volunteer market: The what, where, who and why of volunteering.” International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 7.3 (2002): 244-257. Web. 10 October 2011. <>
“Community Service Scholarships.” Web. 10 October 2011. <>
“Community Volunteering.” Join Bane and Company, Web. 10 October 2011. <>
Oppenheimer, D. and Christopher Olivola. “The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity.” New York: Routledge, 2010. Web. 10 October 2011. <>
Serow, Robert C. “Students and Voluntarism: Looking Into the Motives of Community Service Participants.” American Educational Research Journal 28.3 (1991): 543-556. Web. 10 October 2011. <>Read More
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