My Journey to the CVA Credential

CVA Back in 2008, after spending several years in program management, I began working with volunteers again. While reacquainting myself with the profession, one thing caught my eye: a professional credentialing program sponsored by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA).

The CVA credential is based on a set of core competencies in volunteer management including Professional Principles, Leadership, Organizational Management, Planning, and Human Resources Management. To become a CVA you need to pass a multiple choice test, and create a written portfolio comprised of a personal philosophy statement and a program management narrative. The process takes about a year to complete.

This year, I decided to pursue my CVA. I completed the first part in May by taking the exam, which, I have to admit I was a little worried about. I hadn’t taken a test in a very long time. I did all of my reading early, giving myself plenty of time to go back and revisit the materials before the test. I also made a point of taking the online practice test multiple times. When I was in school (ahem — a while ago) we didn’t have online exams. In fact, I was more nervous about the testing process than I was about the content. So, every Friday for six weeks before the exam I logged into the practice test and answered the questions. The questions never changed, but I felt much more familiar with the online testing process.

And it paid off because, I’m proud to report, I passed! Congratulations to all of the other candidates that passed this year, too.

Now I’m in the middle of completing the second part of the certification process — the portfolio. I’ve found writing this to be rewarding, and actually really fun. My final drafts for both pieces are about ready, and I’m hoping to submit it later this month – well before the December 31 deadline.

So what are the pros of going through the process? For me there are three reasons to earn a CVA:

•    It validates the commitment I’ve made to the effective involvement of volunteers
•    It demonstrates my knowledge, skills, and experience managing volunteers.
•    It increases my organization’s commitment to the profession of volunteer management.

And what about the cons?

Well, for volunteer managers who’ve been working with volunteers for less than three years (the minimum experience required for certification), the CVA is not a course of study — it’s a credentialing program. Getting the certification won’t teach you how to manage volunteers more effectively, but it will measure your ability to do so and reward you with a credential to prove it.

To pursue a CVA yourself you’ll need to have the equivalent of three years of full-time volunteer resource management experience (it can be paid or unpaid). You also need to be currently working in the field, with no less than 30% of your time being spent working with volunteer programs.

Here are important details:

  • Early Bird Registration, 10/1/09 to 12/31/09, $200
  • Regular Registration, 1/1/10 to 3/1/10, $250

(Visit the CVA website for information about available discounts.)

If you’ve considered pursuing a CVA, I encourage you to do so. The entire process has been gratifying, and I’m glad to know that I’m contributing to the development of the field.

— Jennifer

P.S. — It’s still a ways off, but you can also join VolunteerMatch for a Webinar about the CVA on January 13.
To register, visit:

One Comment