Blog Get Paid To Be A Do-Gooder

Posted by Zach Maurin on August 14, 2009

Group of AmeriCorps members. Picture credit: Florida State Parks -

Susan Adams from wrote a lengthy article about the booming interest in social purpose jobs.  It’s a great overview, but I take one issue with it.

Adams covers opportunities ranging from AmeriCorps to microfinance, from philanthropic foundations to cause-marketing — all great stuff.  However, she writes in the first sentence:

Want a job making the world a better place, earning a salary at the kind of work people usually do for nothing?

The last part of the sentence is often a misconception about AmeriCorps — that what the program does could be accomplished through unpaid volunteers.  False!  Political opponents often use this as a reason to vote against it, though many of them have come around realizing that AmeriCorps members are so valuable because they are working consistently (part-time and full-time), are more accountable, and many are trained to manage unpaid volunteers, thus, leveraging an even greater impact at minimal cost.

Unpaid volunteers do incredible work everyday and many volunteer regularly to really make an impact with a child or a project (like helping to rebuild homes after Katrina).  But our social challenges are immense and solving them requires people willing to commit a year or two (or more) of full-time service and that requires a paycheck.

A full-time AmeriCorps member serves 1,700 hours in a year.  That many hours enables corps members to spend significant time — while getting the proper training, getting to know a community, etc. — working to solve America’s most chronic social issues.  That type of commitment and impact is not something many can afford to “doing for nothing”


One Response to “ Get Paid To Be A Do-Gooder”

  1. mary ann clerc said

    Americorps workers are paid. But I would be interestesd to see, how many people would be willing to do what they do, for their small salary.

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