Keeping volunteering spirit alive

I thank all readers and the Pioneer Generation Office for giving their views on what it means to volunteer, in response to my Oct 12 letter ("Volunteers' pay may send wrong message").

Some have said the $10 given to Pioneer Generation ambassadors (PGAs) should be considered as a small token of appreciation.

However, PGAs are not given only $10 for, say, a whole day's or whole month's effort.

Instead, PGAs receive $10 for every pioneer they have engaged successfully.

Terming the $10 a meal allowance or a transport allowance does not quite place it in the "out of pocket expenses" category.

Such expenses are typically nominal and are meant to reimburse volunteers on a per meal or per trip basis, as opposed to a per engagement basis.

I have been applauding the efforts of volunteers who make the effort to contribute within their means, but who also appreciate meal or transport allowances, since they may lack the spare money for expenses incurred in doing volunteer work.

However, I also stand by my view that when people are clearly being paid to deliver a fixed amount of work, they should be called employees instead of volunteers.

This is because they are already receiving more than nominal allowances.

The term "volunteers" should refer to those who offer to do something without being compelled to or paid.

While I understand that data entry is a necessary component of capturing pioneers' details, committed volunteers should not be turned away just because they cannot spare the time to do data entry.

There could be more effective ways to skirt the technicalities and challenges in order to help PGAs continue contributing.

The volunteering spirit should be kept alive in each and every one of us who volunteer.

Quek May Ling (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Keeping volunteering spirit alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe