Debates about the definitions of volunteering have raged for years, but the announcement last week by not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy really highlights the ways that the meaning of volunteering has been stretched beyond recognition.
This article on Civil Society magazine’s website, tells us that nfpSynergy’s outspoken boss, Joe Saxton has decided to allow his staff to “volunteer” to watch the word cup down at the local pub. Although this may be bowing to the inevitable if they were going to be there anyway, Joe has taken the opportunity to highlight the way the official government figures on volunteering use some very tenuous examples of volunteering.
The survey separates volunteering activity into ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ categories and gives the user options of what could be considered as a volunteering activity within these groups. Within the ‘formal’ category those answering the survey are asked if they have “taken part in, supported or helped “within several areas which include “sports/exercise (taking part, coaching or going to watch)”; “hobbies/recreation/arts/social clubs”; and “trade union activity”.
On a personal note, as someone who has no interest in football, when I volunteer NOT to watch the World Cup, will my contribution be counted?