How does VSO match volunteers to placements?

VSO group photo
Natasha Stein
By Natasha Stein: November 1st, 2010

Natasha Stein, Volunteer and Programme Adviser explains how VSO UK matches volunteers with VSO placements.

VSO develops placements directly with overseas partner organisations in response to their needs.  Once a placement has been developed, the VSO Programme Manager based in the country of the placement will send the request to their Volunteer and Programme Adviser (VPA) link, which could be based in any one of our Federation Members.  The VPA will then search for a suitable volunteer for the placement on our volunteer database.

Volunteers’ details, including a profile and CV, are added to the database once they have been selected as a VSO volunteer on an assessment day.  The “match” is made based on volunteers’ professional experience, qualifications and interests.   The volunteer will be sent a placement offer and given 2 weeks to research the placement.   If they decide to accept the placement, the Programme Manager will share their CV with the partner organisation who will decide if the volunteer is suitable for the placement.

A real example:
Kath Hinchliff has recently retired from a career in the NHS.   Kath’s background is in nursing and management and for the last 12 years she has been leading the Yorkshire and East Humber strategic health authority’s education commissioning strategy.  Kath attended a VSO assessment day in February 2010 and was selected to be a VSO volunteer and her details and CV were added to the volunteer database.  In April 2010, a VPA based in VSO Netherlands who is the link to the Cambodia health programme matched Kath to a placement.  He was searching for a volunteer for a placement with the Cambodian Midwives Association, a new partner for VSO Cambodia.  The Association requested a volunteer to support the organisation with the aim of raising the professional standard of midwifery practise and ultimately improving maternal and child health in Cambodia.   Kath was matched to this placement based on her experience in management, improving nursing and midwifery services, commissioning training and education and her interest in maternal and child health.  Kath was really pleased with the match and could clearly see how much she had to offer the Cambodian Midwives Association.  Her CV was shared with the executive committee of the Association and they were happy to accept Kath for this role.  She departed for Cambodia on 2nd September.

3 things that VPAs look out for when making a match:
Training and management experience stands out as most placements involve “capacity building” – developing the skills of individuals through training or improving systems and practices in order to develop an organisation.

A well written, jargon free CV which clearly explains the professional experience and skills and competencies of a volunteer.

Flexibility – volunteers who state very specific preferences on the location or type of role they are interested in are less likely to be offered placements


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