TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What if every full-time employee volunteered one week of every year?

I have for years now felt that just 1 week of our time per year could evoke huge change, not only our countries landscape and start to heal us BUT how about opening our eyes to see the wonderful reward one would feel by making that the norm a part of our year/years?! AND what if the government gave a nice tax advantage to the companies that particied in such a concept....


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 18 2013: I think this would be a good cultural change, but it would have to be voluntary, with no tax incentives and no approval process. Trust people to put their efforts where they will be most effective.

    Just to play devil's advocate, one could argue that we already accomplish the same thing, and much more efficiently, through our government social programs and our charitable institutions. The free economy already provides an efficient mechanism to assure that most people are already performing at their maximum productivity. Consequently their week of volunteer effort would be less productive. When everyone takes a week to produce less, the total effect would be a small reduction of total productivity. From a strictly economic perspective, it would make more sense to just donate one week of earnings to charity.

    Even if it reduced total productivity, I think that volunteering one week per year would have many positive intangible benefits. For example, people would socialize with groups that are outside their normal experience. This would result in a better common understanding of society and its problems; also a better intermixing of ideas. A society in which volunteering is the norm would be a better society.
    • Mar 19 2013: 12 years ago I began spending a week a year on a mission trip. My first was to NYC one month after 9/11. Last year I was in Birmingham helping Habitat rebuild the tornado damage. At one house, the team from my church worked alongside a team of Jewish/Arab students on their spring break from U of Mich. I do not know if I change people's lives. But I do know they have changed me. Instead of focusing inward they have helped turn my focus outward.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.