SINGAPORE: Inculcating correct values, understanding the purpose of volunteering and building habits are essential to sustaining volunteerism beyond school days.
Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing, said this at a youth dialogue session on Saturday.
The session, co—organised by the National Youth Council, was aimed at discussing how volunteering rates could be sustained among people in the workforce and those starting families.
But Mr Chan added the changing face of volunteering efforts also needs to be acknowledged.
About 80 university and polytechnic students attended the session.
The dialogue session comes at a time when surveys have found a "bath—tub" effect in the volunteering trends among Singaporeans — that is a high level of volunteerism during their school days, a period of decline in their mid—20s, and then back up in their mid—40s.
Suggestions varied from setting up a centralised platform highlighting volunteering opportunities to providing some radical incentives.
One area Mr Chan focused on was the Community Involvement Programme (CIP), which is compulsory for secondary school students.
"CIP is a means to an end. Even if we bring hundred people through, ten, twenty fellas continue the journey, it’s still alright, because we have catalysed something in some people, and through this, it will spread," Mr Chan said.
But after the session, Mr Chan also acknowledged the concept of incentivised volunteerism.
"We would like people to come forth without any material pursuits, or any sense that they want to get something tangible in return, but that is idealistic. We know that many of the volunteers, even among the participants today, many of them started off on a structured programme, with some kind of incentive but actually from there, they have graduated from truly volunteering their time without incentive structures in place, and I’m actually open to having both approaches tried out for different parts of the sector, because I don’t think it’s a one side fits all, and I’ve seen both approaches work in different sectors as well," he said.
Chen Yingyi, VP & Co—founder, Voluntarius, said: "There is this trend where volunteers come forward to volunteer because they want to gain something in return, for example, if they want to build up their portfolio, but personally I find there is nothing wrong with that."
Ms Chen said that’s because both the volunteer and those that receive the services, benefit.
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