July 25, 2012; Source: Business Insider

A new company, Exec, offers clients the opportunity to hire someone to complete tasks such as buying groceries or conducting research for $25 and hour. In essence, it’s like renting a personal assistant—a service that is also offered by other companies, such as TaskRabbit. As part of its services, Exec also offers Exec for Charity. This aspect of Exec operates along the same lines: if you want to volunteer for a charity but don’t feel that you really have the time, you can hire an Exec to do your volunteering for you. According to Business Insider, “it’s like donating money to a charity, except you know the tangible impact of your donation to that charity because you’re hiring a helping hand.”

We can see the draw of this type of thing to an over-extended individual who wants to help a certain nonprofit but who has more money than time to spare. However, we have to wonder what kind of quality volunteer work the charity involved is likely to get from someone who has no real connection to the organization or its mission and is, in fact, only there because someone else paid them to be. This kind of turns the whole definition of “volunteer” on its head and could potentially have unintended consequences; for instance, how will the real volunteers react to a “paid volunteer” in their midst?

Exec founder Justin Kan expects questions of this kind, but in response to the charge that Exec for Charity is just a form of lazy activism, he notes that, “It’s better than liking something on Facebook and not doing anything after that.” True, but if that’s the new measuring stick for volunteerism, we’re all in big, big trouble. –Mike Keefe-Feldman