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Criticism and difficulties of volunteering

Some critics, both in the past and today, critique volunteering and express their theories about moral purity of volunteering. Concerns of these critics revolve around the idea that altruism is an extension of extreme Christian missionary ideology. They also mention a sense of responsibility or obligation as a factor that makes people engage in volunteer work. This all makes for the concept of noblesse oblige, a moral duty. This was first noticed with the French aristocracy when they were feeling noblesse oblige because of their wealth. These critics state that, because of this, volunteering is the extension of authority and power over indigenous cultures around the world.

Volunteering internationally to bring medical aid to developing countries has lately been heavily criticized. It was compared to the alternative notion of sustainable capacities, for example, work being done in the context of long-term, locally-run, and foreign-supported infrastructures. This is the most often found criticism in the scientific literature.

Another problem that was noted was that it can be used to replace the low paid entry position for young people entering the business world. This decreases social mobility because only the people that are able to afford to live without a paycheck will be able to gain work experience. Some governments have warned that long term volunteering is a form of exploitation used by charities to avoid some laws, like minimum wage legislation. A lot of sectors also set so- called Volunteer Credentialism, asking candidates to have a significant amount of volunteer experience, no matter if it is relevant to the position they are applying to or not.

Whether the criticism is justified or not, it is true that volunteers encounter various problems and challenges. Some of the problems include being overworked, not knowing when to stop or even feeling bad to say they need to stop. That can bring to even having to change personal schedule. Often they are given meaningless work, especially if there is paid staff in the company as well. Sometimes they are even being used to do tasks no one else would, or are not feeling appreciated by the staff. Emotional burdens can be serious too when the cause is emotionally overwhelming. Not being in a supportive environment can lead to losing interest in the cause or in the volunteering altogether.

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