Giving Time or Money by Ashley Walls

Volunteering is a great way to learn about your passions, test out your skills, and meet a variety of people. Volunteer experiences can be short-term or long-term; once a week or once a month. Over the past few months, my perspective about volunteering and “time giving” has been shifting.
Part of the shift is rooted in mixed feelings about companies taking advantage of employees’ time. So often, we work too many hours without the payoffs that would come along with being an actual volunteer (as listed above).Recently the show “Secret Millionaire” has been airing on television. The show highlights local organizations in poverty-stricken areas that are infiltrated by an undercover millionaire. The millionaire learns about the organization by volunteering for a day or two, and then surprises the company with money to help further the program’s mission. I am intrigued and elated that this show spotlights the sacrifice and dedication required by people paid and unpaid (often times with families), in order to make “nonprofit” missions succeed. I was happy to see one millionaire reward a volunteer that made the choice to stick with his service to the girls basketball team despite the growing financial needs of his family. He was between a rock and a hard place: help his household or continue his role as a steady male figure in the lives of approximately fifteen impressionable young girls.

The estimated dollar value of volunteer time for 2010 was $21.36 per hour according to Independent Sector. People volunteer at churches, schools, youth organizations, for a friend’s start-up business, and more. Some people get paid to do what volunteers willingly give up their spare time to do.
In my most recent employment, I worked under a team of wealthy people. Some of them received little pay for their services and others were not paid at all. What I noticed is that these wealthy individuals can give MORE of their time because they were able to afford nannies, additional vehicles, and other luxuries that allowed for their families to still be cared for. They also had the money to donate items needed to improve the organization’s services.

After my most recent work experience, I began to think about how nonprofit organizations are truly dependent on funders. Although the workers are essential to the everyday functions, it is clear that people are more than willing to work for little to nothing for community causes. My thought process is that if I am able to give more money, I can be a greater asset to non-profit organizations that are already full of people giving so much of their time.

What are your thoughts about giving? How do you feel about the power of a dollar?

Below is a link about the benefits of volunteering.

Ashley S.C. Walls holds a Master’s degree in Arts and Entertainment Media Management with a concentration in Arts and Youth and Community Development from Columbia College Chicago and a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Walls has worked in a comprehensive capacity with community service organizations for several years. A regular blogger (, start-up business consultant, and spoken word poet, Walls creates platforms for sustainable change.

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