I see a lot of blog posts about why you shouldn’t work for free, but I think that society undervalues the volunteer at times. This post isn’t meant to dismiss situations where you should be charging for your time, but rather speak up for the role of the volunteer.
My mum taught me the importance of giving back from an early age. I always joke that my first volunteer experiences were hardly “voluntary” because she was the one signing me up. Now I’m grateful. It used to disappoint her when someone signed up to volunteer and then wouldn’t show up because they felt their commitment wasn’t as binding due to the fact they were an unpaid volunteer. It’s the wrong mindset.
Sometimes getting paid to do something is not possible or not likely. This shouldn’t hold you back. If money isn’t your reason for doing something, it won’t hold you back from helping an important cause, mission or not-for-profit. We should value these chances to help.
Not getting paid extends to more than just charitable work in my mind. Some things we do in life won’t always be about making money. Sometimes, it’s about doing something you love, something you enjoy. The cliché saying we all know is, “there is more to life than money.” Yes, everyone needs to make a living but not everything we do has a dollar amount attached to it.
I’ve also found that getting paid to do something potentially changes expectations both for yourself and the person paying you. When you’re getting paid it can ruin the “fun” element. The person paying you might expect more than when you were a volunteer. Now that you’re suddenly getting paid you could also get fired.
When you’re not following your passion, helping someone who needs you, or feel that you’re being taken advantage of for some reason– then revaluate your situation and ask again if you should still be working for free.
What are your thoughts on getting paid?