I've long pondered whether volunteerism should be encouraged in a society or not and my conclusions thus far have been that; in general it is bad and should be discouraged except in immediate emergencies (such as assisting a person that is drowning or a car accident victim) where timeliness prohibits commercial market solutions from successful fulfilment of the need.
Volunteerism, as a solution to supplying goods and services to a social problem/need weakens the opportunity for a stronger market supplied solution and may prevent it altogether. It therefore, continues a poor solution.
Many examples exist: The supply of donor organs is always notoriously lacking far behind the demand. Why? Not because there are not adaquate healthy people that could donate a kedney or bone marrow, but because there isn't enough incentitive for someone to do so.
Blood, food to the starving, and many, many other needs of society are abandoned to the volunteers who think that they are helping when in fact they delay permanent and efficient solutions to those issues.
Volunteers do jobs that poor people could do.
Volunteers are not a reliable solution. They may be sufficient at first and then disappear totally when another cause or something else distracts them.
If you really care about an issue, find a way to make money solving the problem and there will be many who will gladly take over if you tire.
I have had many discussions with co-workers and friends and after the shock of realizing that a previously unquestioned virtuous activity is actually bad, begin to agree with me.
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