The Role of Volunteering in Community and Personal Development

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The objective of this literature review is to attempt to discuss on the topic of “Volunteering”. In the early years to the present day, there are many studies that are related to this area. This dissertation will go through a much more comprehensive literature scan.


Selfless volunteering is based on the long-term activity for the benefit of those in need. Not all volunteering are considered selfless and not all selfless act are considered volunteering. There are many reviews on altruism (see Piliavin & Charng, 1990), and some on volunteerism (see Wilson, 2000), but there aren’t any reviews which binds the two. This current article will discuss about the different ideas and views of human behavior towards volunteering and how volunteerism will affect the economy. Many people does volunteering these days but are those considered altruism? Altruism, in Latin, means “for the other”. Hoffman (1979) defined altruism as “behavior such as helping or sharing that promotes the welfare of others without conscious regard for one’s own self interest” (p. 2). Values can also be explainable for altruism and volunteering. Our individual values plays a part in our attitude and behavior and whether or not we concern for others welfare.

Many people thinks that one with strong individual values will demonstrate a even stroong altruism and voluntary action. Volunteering is usually based on one’s self willingness. Some may do it for the sake of doing it because many others around them are also doing it or they are doing it for self comfort whereas some really do it because they want to.

Its Impact on the Society

It has been recognised by the government themselves that volunteering actually helps build a strong and united society. They have also promoted the importance of volunteerism act to citizenship. In hopes to have a society that combats social exclusion and to contribute great public services. Many research has also demonstrated that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities.

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Youths and Their Involvement

Also an increasing number of youths have become more involved in volunteering. Recent trends have also suggested that more and more youths are being called upon to play large roles in the development of their communities (Fronmeyer, et al., 2003). Young people are able to be empowered to be problem solvers, committed leaders and decision makers. There is a high possibility that the young people will be able to lead the communities’ development efforts in the future (Barnett Brennan, 200; Benson 1997; Brennan et al., 2007)

We actually do need more involvement of the youths as they are our future generation and possible leaders. When they are more involved in community projects like volunteering, they will face problems and challenges which will help them grow. An increase attention of the youths strengths, assets and partnership building has been given to them. Youth development is a side of the communities’ development in that it represents many positive areas of engagement with parents, relatives, friends and neighbours.

Teacher Shortage in Rural China

There is also a shortage of teachers which affects many countries. In rural western China, schools do not have enough teachers for the children. Teacher shortage is a global problem that affects both developing and developed countries (e.g., DeJaeghere, Chapman, and Mulkeen 2006; Mehrotra and Buckland 1997; Nilsson 2003; Nwaboku 1996).

But ever since this issue surfaced, the government came out with policies that call for graduated university students to serve in the rural areas, especially the poor areas in western China and the purpose of it varies from training future leaders, lending a helping hand to those in need in the rural areas, trainman teachers and to relieve pressure created on the employment situation of fresh graduates which is now a serious issue in china.

The Social Support

A programme called the Family Partners Program is a programme that reduces social isolation by building an effective social support network for families in poverty. It is typically defined as a lack of supportive and sustaining relationships that provide women in poverty with positive feedback, hopeful outlooks, laughter, praise, emotional support, encouragement, ideas for dealing with problems, help during crises, and opportunities to reflect on their experiences in a safe venue (Lawless, 2001; Schein, 1995). Living without social support which will lead to lack of self esteem will definitely affect each individual. Therefore we need social support from the society. Social isolation also segregates the poor citizens from those in the middle and upper class income citizens. Reducing social isolation is a central goal of the family partner relationships. Volunteers will work hard to achieve this goal by interacting everyday with participants.

In Conclusion

Volunteerism plays a important part not only in the countries’ development but also many different parts like what I’ve mentioned before. The increase of awareness, action, and concern among the youths these days will ensure that they are cognisant of their ability to become involved and contribute to the social change in their respective communities. Similarly, based on the research on the shortage of teachers in rural China, the government’s policies reflects an innovative measure to redirect human resources. Volunteer teaching has evolved from individual efforts to a social movement, and to sustain it as a long-term, committed activity, multilateral support from different stakeholders is needed. Though volunteering may be complicated, as problems and challenges will reveal as time passes, it is very important to emphasise that the efforts of both the self organised volunteers and those recruited by the government are not mutually exclusive of each other.

Even so, having programmes like the Family Partners Program helps play a role in poverty alleviation in a community. People from the middle and upper class can volunteer to help families in poverty. These volunteers also contributes to reduce social isolation when they provide participants with emotional support. With such information, the empowerment of communities and the active involvement of the society of community activists can be achieved.

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