Volunteering for rewards does not pay

A survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre has found that only 29 per cent of respondents aged 25 to 34 volunteered for a social cause in 2016.

I can think of one explanation for this. It is related to their actions when they were young.

These young adults were the first to take part in the mandatory Community Involvement Programme in school.

While this programme - as well as the Values In Action and Leaps 2.0 framework that followed it - encourages students to participate more actively in volunteer projects, it also compels them to do so for rewards.

When students are offered rewards, like bonus points for admission to post-secondary institutions, or feel compelled to do volunteer work, they may view these as their main motivation for volunteering.

They then overemphasise the attainment of rewards and overlook the extent to which reasons like passion to serve the community propelled them.

It is important to reconsider the rewards and mandatory aspect of volunteerism in schools so as to increase and make clearer students' intrinsic motivations.

This could encourage them to willingly volunteer more often during their school days and after graduation, thereby promoting a culture of active volunteerism.

Tan Rong Ying (Miss), 21

Year 2 University Undergraduate

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2018, with the headline 'Volunteering for rewards does not pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe