Friday, July 04, 2008

Paid Volunteer Work

For Love and a Little Money by Claudia H. Deutsch from The New York Times shares how retirees are now volunteering for pay. Gasp, is paid volunteering the ultimate oxymoron?

While the term seems strange, the concept is not. Organizations (and people) sometimes do not value services that are done for free. Assigning a cost, even a minimal one, will often create more conscious engagement. In addition, a volunteer tends to be more committed (e.g. showing up on time) when there is small compensation.

Having done significant amounts of pro bono volunteer work in my youth, I was not interested in volunteer opportunities when I retired in my forties in 2007. At the same time, I don't feel it is appropriate to request payment for volunteering with charitable organizations.

However, I think the term "paid volunteer work" can be loosely applied to more than just charitable endeavors. For me, interesting and fun work, which has minimal compensation, could be classified as paid volunteer work. For example, the seasonal part time work I recently did falls into my definition of paid volunteer work. I helped a lot of people. It was interesting, and I learned a lot. And the pay was a little over minimum wage.

Here are some other types of "paid volunteer work" that I would consider:

  • Teaching adult education topics. Of course, the topic would need to be an area of personal interest or expertise. Otherwise, it would be real work :-) I plan to check out opportunities with a local adult education center.

  • Coaching kids on the essay parts of college applications. Having done applicant interviews for my alma mater, I have some perspective on approaches that can help promote a candidates qualifications when applying to competitive colleges. I've worked with a couple kids of friends and have enjoyed the interactions.

  • Tutoring math or personal finance. Being an engineer and a personal finance junkie, I enjoy both of these topics. Helping others become more skilled in these areas would also be enjoyable work.

  • Although I think would enjoy doing these part time, I realize that there isn't much money in any of these areas. That's why I think of these opportunities as "paid volunteer work."

    For more on Reaping the Rewards Reflections, check back every Friday for a new segment.

    This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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