I attended one of the launch events for Volunteer Now, the new name of the amalgamation of VSB and the Volunteer Development Agency. Volunteer Now is the name of an existing website that was created a few years back, to encourage individuals to find volunteering opportunities in Northern Ireland.
While many organisations have availed of listing opportunities on Volunteer Now, there appears to be many postings that are out of date (previous years’ events). Also, organisations need to register with a local Volunteer Centre, which then adds the opportunities to the main database. This means, for example, that a Northern Ireland-wide volunteering opportunity must be listed with all Volunteer Centres (currently, 15), individually.
Likewise, an individual registers an interest in a found volunteering opportunity by completing an online form (which is sent to the relevant Volunteer Centre in confidence). This is required for every volunteering opportunity of interest. This is a capture of individual details for a passive, targeted approach (individual assigns skills for a particular opportunity), versus an active, targeted approach (organisation searches list of candidates who have registered their skills, not specific to a particular opportunity). (Having an individual search for particular opportunities and register details for every one is a high barrier for recruitment.)
I have been assured that both of these deficiencies — out of date postings and repetitive registrations of interest — will be addressed in a revamped website.
As an alternative, I am impressed with the structure of Idealist.org, which presents volunteering and job opportunities worldwide. We have used Idealist.org to set up a group, to present volunteering opportunities in Northern Ireland.
I have a professional interest in this, as we wish to encourage volunteering and active citizenship in Northern Ireland, particularly in regards to realising a shared and better future. I’m proactively working with Volunteer Now to achieve this goal.