Do you really need to volunteer? Are you selfish when you don’t?

If it’s up to us (or some of us at the very least), we want to do whatever we can or whatever it takes to help whomever is in dire need of help. But let’s be realistic here. If you’re not making this your full-time job, it’s impossible for you to give back to the community on a full-time scale.

Just to make us feel a little less guilty, we wlent to our local soup kitchen (twice a year or so) or we volunteered to help the street kids. At least we are doing something rather than complaining and ranting. But, what about those who did not commit to any volunteering activity? Are they being inconsiderate or selfish?

To halo or not to halo

Have you ever been in a position where you don’t feel like helping, but you help anyway not because it came naturally from you but simply because everyone else is doing it? And you don’t want to be the only one without a halo on your head. Sure, it may make you feel great about helping but are you going to be less of a human being if you just refuse to help?

If you read last week’s blog written by Chris about his personal experience in volunteering, you might have an idea about where this article is going. We get it, some people are community-driven, altruistic and always on the spirit of giving back to the community regardless. And the world needs more of these people. Kudos to you if you are in this group of people. Continue doing what you are doing right now because there is no harm in helping.

And on the other side of the road, we have another group who’d rather be involved silently through social media or donate money if they can afford it or do nothing at all. There are people out there who just don’t want or don’t like to be involved directly in helping the community. For whatever reason you guys have, for not being involved, it does not mean that you are less of a human being. Volunteering takes your time and energy and if you are not planning to commit to it on a monthly basis at least, there’s a big possibility that volunteering is not your forte at all.

Is volunteering selfish?

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, only 25% of Americans volunteered since 2013. When many of us blame the individual itself for being selfish, the truth behind this number goes beyond just being selfish.

“You’re not really helping anyone but yourself. Looking around at that soup kitchen and seeing the people there, I could only imagine the dire circumstances they go through every day. And coming from the Western world, clothed nicely and well fed with money in my pockets, It just didn’t feel right coming there “just to see what it was like”. I felt like a tourist on a day out.” (read more here)

When Chris told us that he didn’t feel good after helping out at the soup kitchen, we gave him this look. Like, what could possibly go wrong when all you had to do is feed the homeless? But to Chris, without the right intention, you won’t walk out of the soup kitchen feeling good about yourself. At the end of the day, helping people is not about you. You are not the star of the show. It’s about those who need your help the most. And if you’re planning to do a one-off show just to make you feel good as a human being, perhaps, you should reconsider volunteering.

Here’s what we think, YES it’s selfish when you volunteer to make yourself feel good (and not to forget the fact that you want people to know that you are good). But if you are none of this, most probably you are on the right track.

So, do you still need to lend a helping hand by volunteering?

It goes without saying. Of course, you should. In fact, helping people in general, should be part of your routine. If you’ve committed yourself as a volunteer, be sure to pick the right organisation and give your 100% commitment. Ask yourself again, why are you doing this. Always remember that you are not the focus of attention when it comes to volunteering. Yes, volunteering will definitely help brush up your skills and what not. But your main goal is to always serve the needy and make them feel that they actually belong in the society.

Volunteering is more than posting a picture on Instagram with “It feels good to be able to give back to the community” as a caption.


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About the Author: Incitement

Incitement is the next-generation social business, building solutions, business models, and projects that enable people, nonprofits, brands, and entrepreneurs to grow themselves or their brands through social impact creation.