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Is it possible to earn a living through charity or volunteer work?

I am wondering, specifically in Canada, if there is any way in this day and age to earn a living through volunteer work? I am thinking just basics, like rent, food, electricity and savings. I like helping people and solving problems, but most of the jobs I get leave me with little time or energy to volunteer.

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  • Mar 19 2013: I am in complete and total agreement with Dan Pallotta's assessment that "the way we think about charity is dead wrong." Several of the comments made that are critical of his talk seem to exemplify exactly the problem. The "logical" of these counter arguments seems to be:

    1. We see that there are problems in the world that are significant, complex and pose a danger to individuals or society on a massive scale.

    2. We accept that there may be a subset of these problems that cannot be addressed by either government or business.

    3. We recognize that some of this subset of problems might not be addressed at all if they are not addressed by nonprofit organizations.

    4. But it is important to us that when nonprofit organizations solve one of those problems that are significant, complex and pose a danger to individuals or society on a massive scale that they not just solve it, but do so with a purity of spirit. Without pay. On the weekend. With their kids. Maybe their could be a little picnic afterwards.

    This is a hopelessly uninformed and naive perspective. It shows a lack of awareness of the thousands of nonprofit organizations and millions of nonprofit employees that are already in place and impacting all of our lives in numerous ways every single day.

    Those making the comments also seem like they must be far removed from any meaningful participation with nonprofit organizations. After 20 years of both working and volunteering with a broad range of nonprofits, I can tell you that the biggest advocates for both more money and more staff for nonprofit organizations are the volunteers themselves.

    This support is the logical reaction once you recognize the need for talented and committed nonprofit staff, witness the enormous personal sacrifices now required of nonprofit employees, and recognize the natural limits of your own volunteer efforts.

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