I’ve done it! I’ve invented a word! After years with a college English degree, I’ve finally conjured up the creative juices to give birth to vocabulary! And, believe it or not, my new word pertains to the non-profit world! So, I should get extra points for creativity AND staying within my blog topic!

At least I hope I’ve invented a new word. I don’t know how a person actually gets credit for such an invention. (Should I call up Webster?) But, I have scoured the various search engines and online dictionaries, and haven’t found a single reference to the word I have concocted.

That doesn’t mean that the word hasn’t been thought of before, I guess, but hey, if it’s not online these days, it really doesn’t exist, now does it?

Ok, so I know you’re dying to hear what I’ve created.

Well, it’s one of those words that takes parts of two other words and you smash them together to form a new word with a new meaning.

I got the idea from the current series of articles I’m writing for Step By Step Fundraising on the subject of Volunteer Policies.

I’ve been thinking about ways for non-profits to get more people to volunteer. One of the solutions that I’ve come across is the practice of actually forcing people to give of their time to a cause. The non-profit would use whatever leverage it has to make people volunteer. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

In the case I have been researching, swim teams would actually ban youth swimmers from participating in swim meets if their parents didn’t fulfill their mandatory volunteer requirements.

That notion of mandatory volunteerism struck me as linguistically and syntactically odd, an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp” or “army intelligence”.

Mandatory Volunteer. Manda-teer. MANDATEER!

That’s it. That’s my new, invented word! Mandateer! Even as I type it now, that red squiggly line is appearing underneath it, telling me that I must have mis-spelled some other word. That means, mandateer is not even in my SpellCheck! HA!

So, from this time forward, let it be known throughout the land, that I, James Berigan, on February 2, 2011, have laid claim to the new English word “Mandateer”. (This little statement is for future copyright infringement lawsuits…). I shall receive all rights and responsibilities inherent to and forthwith, blah, blah, blah….

Ok, well, back to reality… Even though I am clearly ecstatic to have bred new lexical life, I do have to pause and point out the sad fact that this word has to exist at all. Why have so many organizations come to a point where they have to mandate volunteerism?

In fact, this notion of a “manda-teer” is an insult to the fine word “volunteer”, which, according to Merriam-Webster, means, “someone who does something without being forced to do it: such as a : a person who chooses to join the military b : a person who does work without getting paid to do it ▪ Volunteers are needed to help with the bake sale. ▪ The school was built by volunteers.”

So, we are now entering an era in which groups don’t ask for volunteer help any more. They simply draft an army of mandateers. We’re in the age of Mandateerism!

I wonder how this will eventually work out for the non-profits.

Anyway, so whom do I contact about being nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature for my staggering linguistic achievement?

Let me know if you love this new word and will use it in conversation every chance you get!


Photo by: greeblie

Posted on 02 February 2011

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