We should not expect thanks

The whole point of volunteering is to do something good with the expectation of nothing in return, and yet we constantly expect to be thanked for volunteering. Whether it’s a t-shirt or a volunteer lunch, we look for opportunities where our efforts are rewarded.

I love to be thanked for things I do. But when we volunteer, we should not expect to be celebrated. In fact, celebrating volunteers is counterproductive.

There is a culture of validation where we like to posts pictures of us volunteering or tweet a link to a petition or a number to call your senators. While it is good to do these things, they fill our “community service quota,” often without really accomplishing anything. If we just volunteer so we can post a pic and show all our friends (and let’s face it, colleges), we are not really doing it because we care. So what happens when we are asked to make an anonymous donation to the same cause? We’re less likely to do it because we won’t be able to share it and get the reward or validation.

Instead of incentivising volunteer work, we should promote volunteering simply because you are a kind person and you care about a cause. Volunteering for a reward or the validation that you are a good person causes you to only volunteer when you will receive something.

I could go on about whether or not there is such a thing as true altruism, but here’s my point: we should promote kindness as normal, not as something exceptional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *