Volunteering around the World

Author: Tio

Many people have difficulties understanding what will motivate mankind in a society like The Venus Project, where nobody will be forced to work, there won’t be jobs and no one will feel compelled to obey or follow a path of personal profit.

While we all know people, including ourselves, who are motivated by so many other things than money: sex, fame, taking care of children or old people, fear, sport, and so on, I want to show you how large groups of people already do an amazing job by helping to improve people’s life and scientific research without being motivated by any monetary reward.

St. Jude Children’s Hospital has more than 1 million volunteers.  Collectively, they work around 37,000 hours a year helping in programs and activities such as providing meals to families at the Memphis Grizzlies House, participating in playtime with patients, leading knitting classes, host tours, volunteer in the gift shop, provide clerical assistance to staff and actively support the hospital’s research and treatment programs. (source)

St. Jude Hospital provides free healthcare for children and has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers.  It’s also primarily funded by individuals.

On average, St. Jude has over 67,000 patient visits each year, across the 50 US states, and around the world.

St. Jude has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For”, by The Scientist as one of the top 10 “Best Places to Work in Academia”, and by U.S. News & World Report and Parents magazine as a top children’s cancer hospital. (source)

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is another group that works as volunteers and treat millions of people each year, across 70 countries.  On any given day, more than 30,000 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other qualified professionals working with MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) can be found providing medical care around the world.

In 2012, MSF medical teams carried out more than 8.3 million outpatient consultations, delivered over 185,000 babies, treated more than 1.6 million people for malaria, treated nearly 350,000 severely and moderately malnourished children, provided some 284,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral therapy, vaccinated 690,000 against measles and 496,000 against meningitis, and conducted more than 78,000 surgeries. (source)

The American Red Cross is a nationwide network of more than 650 chapters and 36 blood service regions, dedicated to saving lives and helping people prepare for, and respond to, medical emergencies.

Approximately 500,000 Red Cross volunteers, including FEMA Corps and AmeriCorps members – plus 30,000 employees, annually mobilize relief to people affected by more than 67,000 disasters, train almost 12 million people in necessary medical skills, and exchange over a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their family members.

The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals, nationally, and also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts at locations worldwide. (source)

In fact, there are so many of these organizations that it’s impossible to list even a small fraction of them.  Such organizations of volunteers help people with education, skill training (from programming to hiking), assistance (from medical assistance to psychological assistance), providing necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing), or to do any kind of job imaginable: firefighter, police, taxi driver, IT specialist, scuba diving instructor, and so on.  Here’s a huge list of a small portion of such activities.

As an example, when hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest and most destructive hurricanes that struck the US and killed almost 2,000 people, more than 74,000 volunteers provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees and prepared more than 7.5 million hot meals. (source)

Let’s switch gears now, since offline volunteers are just one aspect of this.  For the past 10 years or so, many booming online communities have become volunteer-based by default.

Wikipedia is a perfect example.  It’s now, by far, the largest world encyclopedia, with around 31 million user accounts, 31,000 of which are active on a monthly basis.  It’s estimated that the total effort to create Wikipedia is roughly 100 million man-hours.  About half of the active editors spend at least one hour a day editing, and a fifth spend more than three hours at it. (source)

There are around one thousand new articles written every single day, and that’s just for the English Wikipedia! (source)

In comparison to Encyclopedia Britannica, which not long ago was the largest Encyclopedia on Earth and was written by about 100 full-time paid editors and more than 4,000 contributors, Wikipedia produces the same amount of articles in only 4 months.  Let me say that again – in just 4 months, Wikipedia produces as many articles as there are in the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and all of that is done by volunteers. (source)

40% of the world’s population is connected to the internet.  That’s almost 3 billion people, with 72% of them (around 2 billion) active on social media.  It was estimated that in 2012, people spent an average of 4 hours a day online.

Those 2 billion socially active people produce 3 to 4 billion pieces of content daily (photos, videos, thoughts, etc).

As an example, around 7 thousands hours of video recording are uploaded on YouTube every single hour.  Just for the sake of comparison, there are only 700 thousand hours in an 80 year life.  If you were to only watch YouTube videos for an entire 80-year life, it would only account for 4 days worth of YouTube video uploads.  Just imagine all the videos uploaded this week on YouTube.  If you were to watch them all, it would take more than your entire lifetime to do so.  That’s insane!

Now, take all of that content, which is already huge, and add up all of the other websites, tons of radio shows, music sites, personal blogs, news, RSS & Atom feeds, and so on.  I think it’s right to say that what is created online in 1 second will take many lives of a human to read/watch/listen.

If we were to eliminate the offline volunteer work, this world wouldn’t work.  It’s estimated that 3 out of 10 Europeans (150 million out of 500 million people) are doing some volunteer work, while in a research conducted across 37 countries all around the world, it shows that around 140 million people are full-time volunteers.  It’s like half of the entire US population does full-time work as a volunteer.  That’s huge! (source)

Now count the billions that create so much volunteer work online, and we can rightly say that many people on Earth are doing some volunteer work already.

If all of the volunteers of the world would suddenly stop working today, humanity would collapse.

In almost all of the cases we have presented in this article, the problem is not whether we can find people motivated to do work without a monetary profit, but instead lies in the monetary game we play, as many of these organizations and individuals struggle to find a way to survive in this money based world since they do not work for money.

It seems that there are resources out there to feed, clothe and provide comfort for all the people in the world.  It seems like there is also motivation to do all that but there is no money.  As Alan Watts said: it is like you are trying to build a house and suddenly you have no inches.  You have the cement, wood, nails…, you have the human motivation to build the house…, but, well, you have no inches.  That’s how ridiculous this world is.  This is why The Venus Project insists that we need to change the game; not merely some of the rules, but the entire game.

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