What you need to volunteer

What you need to volunteer

You'll need a mixture of professional and soft skills to volunteer with VSO. Most importantly, you'll need to be flexible, sensitive to the needs of others and good at problem solving.

To become a VSO volunteer, it’s vital you’re experienced in your professional field and able to train and advise colleagues in your area of expertise. You need to be prepared to work creatively, often with few resources.

There are some basic requirements you will need to fulfil in order to volunteer with VSO. To apply, you need:

  • an official qualification (most countries need a university degree in your profession), to secure a work permit
  • more than 4 years relevant work experience in a skill area where we have roles available
  • the commitment to share your skills and experience to contribute towards a positive and lasting impact
  • to be willing to work in another country for one to two years
  • to be between 25 and 55 years of age

If you’ve yet to accumulate the required experience, but are aged between 18 and 25, you might like to look at the next available opportunities in our new youth volunteering programme, VSO ICS.

The basic requirements may vary depending on the skill area, role length and the requests we receive from our partners in other countries. Please check our opportunities page for more information.

You’ll also need to:

  • be willing to work for a modest living allowance and to live in conditions similar to those of local colleagues
  • be prepared to invest time in self-briefing and training before going to your placement
  • be willing to learn the basics of the local language where you'll be working
  • pass our medical clearance requirements and criminal record checks
  • share your experience and promote VSO when you return home

Other skills required

It’s not all about hard skills. Volunteers also need a particular set of personal qualities if they are to be effective.

Adaptability, resilience, and the ability to facilitate positive change are all key attributes you will need to have.  You’ll also need to have the ability to build and sustain working relationships and be open-minded and respectful towards others.

Most volunteers need a desire to help others learn. Although it might often be quicker to simply do a task yourself, in many situations your objective will be to teach people to do it instead. This will have a much greater impact in the long term.

Don’t worry if you haven’t had an opportunity to use these qualities recently, or if you’re not sure where your strengths lie. That’s why we run assessment days where we can get to know you better and understand what you could bring to a placement.


We ask volunteers to contribute to the costs of their placements by doing some fundraising. This process has a double impact for us: it provides much-needed cash to keep our programmes in action, and it also presents an invaluable opportunity to raise VSO’s profile in the communities we work in. By asking people to support you, you’re also introducing them to VSO and the unique way we work.

Don’t worry if you’ve never fundraised before. We’ll help you along by giving you information on how you can fundraise and by sharing examples of how other volunteers have raised funds in the past.