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Volunteerism can contribute to economy - Morgan

Published:Sunday | April 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

When considering volunteerism, one automatically thinks of giving time and service with no monetary gain in return, in addition to catering to the poor and needy.

Dr Henley Morgan, vice-chairman of the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) and Social Entrepreneur, is stressing that a lot more goes into volunteerism than has been taught over the years, adding that there is much more value to be garnered from the sector.

Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, Morgan noted that more should be done to enhance the sector.

"I would want to join other people in thinking that volunteerism is all about the heart, the poor and it's all good. The truth is, however, in the United States, the voluntary sector contributes about six to nine per cent to the GDP (gross domestic product), and until we start thinking of it like that, volunteerism will not have much appeal. Corporate entities who want to invest do so, not knowing what returns they will get," Morgan said.

"I suspect that in Jamaica, the sector contributes about three to four per cent (to the GDP), but when we start thinking monetary value, then we can start thinking of it more like an investment. Just like everything else, volunteerism cannot be optimised unless it is organised," he continued.

He added: "I want us to get to the day when we realise that this sector has a contribution to make towards the GDP. It should be reported in the annual budget and be a part of the Government's planning."


better management needed


He also noted that better structure and management is needed going forward.

"You have to provide supervision for volunteers. We have to realise that the first need that must be catered to is that of the volunteers, not the hungry and distressed - they will always be there in abundance," he said.

"The whole psychology of how we (volunteers) operate is a little wrong, I believe."

Said Morgan: "Volunteerism without the capacity to supervise is pure chaos. The resources must be provided, proper organisation has to be put in place and the necessary support systems have to be in place in order for you to have anything looking like a productive enterprise."

Winsome Wilkins, chief executive officer (CEO) of the CVSS, shared similar sentiments, noting that accountability and management are integral components of volunteering.

"Issues such as training and ethics are very important. With incidents of rape and abuse on the rise, we are also forced to ensure that persons who volunteer are properly inspected. There is a lot that goes into volunteering and every chance we get we have to improve."