Altruism is selfless concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism,Buddhism, Confucianism, Sikhism, and many others.
Pure altruism is giving without regard to reward or the benefits of recognition and need.
Volunteering takes many forms and is performed by a wide range of people. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work in, such as medicine,dentistry, education, or emergency rescue. Other volunteers serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster or for a beach-cleanup.
Without a doubt some volunteers are purely altriustic in their ideals, they just wish to serve others, help those less fortunate and desperately in need. These people are in the minority in my opinion but nevertheless are still a very important part of a system without which many of the state/country provided services would fail.
So why do the majority of people volunteer if it is not a purely altruistic activity. What do they have to gain, certainly not financial reward.
Does all GAIN have to be financial ?
Because we work for nothing is there no gain or value to the work volunteers do ?
The simple answer to both questions is NO !
I spoke recently with with Dr. Bob Renner of Kids (Kids International Dental Services), and he recognizes that the reasons behind people volunteering can be very different. In the second paragraph on Kids website it say ''the fundamental mission of Kids International Dental Services (KIDS) is to provide pro-bono dental care to impoverished children in developing countries. Other aspects of our mission includes (a) providing a platform for young dental professionals to perform community service world wide, and (b) to expose young students of High School age to social service and encourage them to innovate projects to serve disadvantaged youths in developing world ''. In this statement alone is demonstrated both Altruism and none financial gain.
Bob said to me in our conversation '' the amount of knowledge and experience gained whilst on one these ventures by the young dentists who volunteer is immeasurable, the average dental student during their training may have the opportunity to extract 5 or 10 teeth, they can do that in an hour here, the learning benefits are great and they will hopefully go on to VOLUNTEER again in the future ''
So yes there is NO financial gain for volunteers but the emotional and professional rewards can, and do come in other ways. This benefits not only the people being served, as with KIDS but also the equally people providing the service.