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Would it be wrong to pay a kid for volunteer work?

 
 
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 04:33 pm
This is purely theoretical (at this point).

I was thinking about how summer is nearly upon us and wondering how Mo might earn a little pocket money. He's too young for a job but not too young to do volunteer work (if I go along with him). So I started thinking maybe I could pay him for hours he volunteers somewhere.

Ethically it seems a little murky in that it's pretty contrary to the spirit of volunteering and I don't want to send the message that one should be expected to be paid for volunteer work.

On the other hand, it kills three birds with one stone -- he gets some volunteering experience, he's actually preforming some work to earn pocket money, and I'm not just shelling out cash for all kind of things.

I can't think of an argument to tip me over to one side of the fence or the other. Can you?
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Type: Question • Score: 16 • Views: 5,459 • Replies: 93

 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 04:44 pm
@boomerang,
I don't see any ethical issue.

I assume there would be a clear agreement between you and Mo. The charity benefits. Mo benefits. It gives money for Mo to control (money that you would presumably spend on him anyway). It is a win-win-win.

I wouldn't think twice about this arrangement with my kids.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 04:54 pm
@maxdancona,
Thanks maxdancona. That's kind of the way I see it too but I still get a bit of a hinky feeling about paying him for doing something that really is supposed to offer emotional rewards. I just can't seem to shake the "hmmmm..." feeling.
Pearlylustre
 
  4  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:04 pm
@boomerang,
I'd go with your hinky feeling. I'd pay him to do extra jobs around your own house but I wouldn't pay him to do volunteer work outside the house. Learning about where money comes from is a different lesson to learning about helping others and your community. I wouldn't mix them up. Just my opinion.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:13 pm
@boomerang,
I replied in agreement with Max and then erased it, thinking, wait..

Still thinking. What about an allowance that involves household expectations - which I remember, or think I do, that he has been relatively good at, so does already, but as a growing teen may want to move away from?
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:19 pm
@boomerang,
My take is that you are giving money to a charity, and Mo is doing some work. In essence, he's your paid agent. You're paying him money to do work you don't want to do. I can't see any problem in theory.

In practice, if Mo is working with others his own age, he may be put in the spot of having to say he's not technically a volunteer.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:21 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
t I still get a bit of a hinky feeling about paying him for doing something that really is supposed to offer emotional rewards.


That train had sadly let the station years ago when schools begin to require such works for kids to get their high school diplomas.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:41 pm
Help him to get a good work ethic first. Let him earn some money. Lemonade stand? his own garage sale? sweep, weed, help elderly?

Then encourage the 1/3 spend, 1/3 save and 1/3 charity plan.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 05:50 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:


On the other hand, it kills three birds with one stone -- he gets some volunteering experience, he's actually preforming some work to earn pocket money, and I'm not just shelling out cash for all kind of things.




But that first stone....getting some volunteering experience.....that's not happening, because he IS getting paid, regardless of who is paying.

Isn't the essence of volunteering not getting paid in money, but in experience, and experiences?
hawkeye10
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 06:05 pm
i think it a very bad idea to corrupt volunteerism with hourly pay......either give him money or dream up projects around the house for him to get paid for. If you did your plan it would cause problems between Mo and the real volunteers as well as between you and other parents.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 06:20 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

... I still get a bit of a hinky feeling about paying him for doing something that really is supposed to offer emotional rewards. I just can't seem to shake the "hmmmm..." feeling.


I question that this is something that he "is supposed to offer emotional rewards." Why?

If you are paying him to do it, it becomes work (and the charity is yours). He is, in effect, working for you and you are donating his services to whatever organization benefits.

There is nothing wrong with this arrangement. There is nothing wrong with being paid work and there is nothing magical about doing something for free.

What are the alternatives (assuming he doesn't have intrinsic motivation for this particular gig)?

1) You force him to volunteer (which can be bad for several reasons).
2) He doesn't do the gig.
3) You pay him.

Of these three options, the third is arguably the best. The best way to teach kids volunteerism is by example, and I don't know if this is something you are inclined to do with him.

But if this is an opportunity for Mo to earn a little money with honest work toward a worthwhile cause, there is nothing wrong with that.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 06:34 pm
@chai2,
I'm also thinking about how people will mention their volunteering experience when later looking for paying work.

When mo goes to get his first paying job, let's say as a golf caddy during the summer, how can he include this as volunteer work, when he was getting paid?

If I were interviewing him for a summer job, and he said he had volunteered somewhere, but that his mom was paying him to do it....that wouldn't impress me much.

Plus, there's what someone else said about how this will sit with the other volunteers...
"Wait a minute, I'm going here to help out, and your mom is paying you to come here to do this? Uh......What else does you mom have to do for you?"

Don't pretty it up with the altruistic title volunteer, call it what it is, paying him to do something, which is a job.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 06:37 pm
As an aside from reading Boomer's posts over time, Mo already knows how to work, so I would take that possible question off the table.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 06:38 pm
@chai2,
Quote:

If I were interviewing him for a summer job, and he said he had volunteered somewhere, but that his mom was paying him to do it....that wouldn't impress me much.


Really?

When you are interviewing for a paying job, having had a paying job means something.

What counts to most employers is responsibility and maturity. These are both things that Mo can demonstrate at this paid volunteered gig. And if he does a good job, he will gain references to that effect.
chai2
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:00 pm
@maxdancona,
If you were paid for something, it wasn't volunteering, it was a paid position.

I don't see how anyone cannot get that.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:06 pm
@chai2,
Of course. And what's the problem with that? If you are interviewing for a paid position, why would you have a problem with someone who has experience in a paid position?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:08 pm
@maxdancona,
Hinkyish when it about volunteering.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:16 pm
@chai2,
I absolutely agree with chai. It's not volunteering.

If you want him to be paid, let him weed or water gardens for neighbors, or walk their dogs, or watch their houses while they're out of town or something.

There is one set of values he'll learn from volunteering, and a completely different set he'll learn from working for pay. Both are good, but I wouldn't confuse the two in his mind.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:20 pm
You all have done a great job of giving voice to my internal dialogue. I keep going back and forth. After every post I say "You're right!" I see the positives and pitfalls from both positions.

Mo is a hard worker. He enjoys working. He's pretty savvy with money. He already has a savings account.

We don't give him an allowance but we do pay him for odd jobs he does around the house, jobs that are in addition to the things he's already expected to do. Mr. B and I have had the allowance discussion many times and we both feel that "chores" are just part of being a family -- everyone has things they're responsible for. Right now Mo is talking about how he should start getting paid to mow the lawn and we're saying that mowing the lawn is something that's expected of him and he shouldn't get paid for that (for example).

He does get paid for additional yard work, however.

Still, it's hard to come up with something that needs to be done on a regular basis. That makes it difficult to teach the other qualities that make someone a good "employee". Plus, I don't want him to ever think that he's considered an employee of the family!

Roger says:
Quote:
My take is that you are giving money to a charity, and Mo is doing some work. In essence, he's your paid agent. You're paying him money to do work you don't want to do.


The thing is, I would have to volunteer alongside him. 12 year olds can't volunteer without a parent there to supervise. In most cases 12 year olds can't volunteer at all (I'm learning). But yes, he would be my paid agent.

Chai says:
Quote:
But that first stone....getting some volunteering experience.....that's not happening, because he IS getting paid, regardless of who is paying.


Okay, so he's getting some work experience then. He's got to show up on time and do the work that is required. He has to follow the rules of someplace set up like a job. He has to learn to work alongside other people and take direction from someone other than me or Mr. B and someplace outside of school.

max says:
Quote:
But if this is an opportunity for Mo to earn a little money with honest work toward a worthwhile cause, there is nothing wrong with that.


I can't really argue with that. I feel myself toppling a bit.

There is really no reason that anyone would ever have to know that I was paying him to do the work. He would not be volunteering with kids his age because frankly there aren't really any volunteer opportunities for kids his age. I think I would want him to think of it as a job.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Apr, 2013 07:27 pm
@boomerang,
Getting everything you said there.

I wonder what he would think.
 

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