VSO stands up for marketing used to recruit volunteers

Voluntary Service Overseas has defended its "lifestyle marketing" approach to recruiting volunteers for international projects following criticism in a book about volunteering published this week.

The Whiteness of Power: Racism in Third World Development, by Paulette Goudge, criticises VSO recruitment material for emphasising personal development rather than the benefits of volunteering for the developing world.

In a section about VSO publicity material, Goudge writes: "There is a suggestion that anyone, whether architect, social worker or business adviser from the First World who wants to help people in developing countries must, by definition, be doing good."

But Mark Goldring, chief executive of VSO, said it uses lifestyle marketing because it works. "Recruitment is a challenge and we work very hard to attract professionals. At the early stage of their decision-making, volunteers are not always ready for strong development messages," he said.

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