September 2019

Revisiting Credentials and Certifications in Volunteer Engagement

By Cara Thenot

On September 18, 2019, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) (U.S.) will be hosting a webinar about the ins and outs of earning a certification or credentials in the field of volunteer leadership,  volunteer engagement, volunteering (depending on your terminology preference). Free for members of AL!VE and $25 for non-members, the webinar offers an easy and affordable way for practitioners to explore the “differences between personal professional development opportunities like volunteer engagement certificates and CVA credentialing, programmatic resources like standards and best practices guides, and organizational certification.“  

Energize takes this opportunity to revisit the many perspectives expressed about credentialing over the years. And, for those who can’t attend or work outside of the U.S., this hot topic is a way to do your own research on whether credentialing is right for you.

International Perspectives

Start with this 2011 article from e-Volunteerism. A discussion between individuals from several different countries that goes beyond the immediate benefits to the individual professional. What does certification mean for the field of volunteer engagement? Is there a “dark side” to creating preferred practices?  Feel free to comment on this page below if you’d like to continue the discussion!

A Call for Vision First

Susan J. Ellis, in her 2011 Energize Hot Topic, didn’t hold back on her vision for what type of credentialing is needed for the profession. Don’t forget to read the comments at the bottom of the page for even more ideas from others.

First-Hand Perspective

A certified practitioner shared her reflections on what holding the Certification in Volunteer Administration has meant for her career and daily work.

Programs Available

Several organizations worldwide have shared with us programs or courses leading to certification. Be sure to select the appropriate region; there may be one closer to home. Some programs are available no matter your location. Please don’t hesitate to let us know about any that are missing. 

Please share your perspectives about credentialing and certification through the comment form below.

  • Have you completed a certification program, and has it helped your career?
  • What are your thoughts about being credentialed in volunteer engagement?  A necessity? Harmful to the profession? Needs improvement?

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Comments from Readers

Submitted on
Anonymous, Stillwater, United States

I have been leading the volunteer workforce for twenty-five years, with outstanding personal reviews every year. I attend classes and read to always provide the best experience for volunteers as possible. I took a lead role in our agency becoming a SERVICE ENTERPRISE agency this year.
I do believe in the CVA certification but was very disappointed in the whole process after going through it twice. The changing staff and leadership made communication very difficult and the process/testing does not seem upfront and in the open. There is no feedback as to how one might improve their results. I know they have new leadership this year 2019 and I am hoping things improve because I do feel that it adds value to our work and the field. of volunteer management.

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