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In today's rapidly evolving world, volunteer engagement has become more critical than ever. Nonprofits and organizations rely on dedicated volunteers to drive their missions forward. To ensure the effectiveness and professionalism of these vital efforts, certification and certificates in volunteer engagement have emerged as a powerful tool.

In this blog, we'll explore the significance of certification and certificates in this field and provide a listing of opportunities you may wish to consider for your own professional development.

The Difference Between Certification and a Certificate

The distinction between earning a certification and obtaining certificates lies in their scope and significance.

Certification. Typically represents a comprehensive and standardized acknowledgment of an individual's proficiency in a particular field or skill set. It often involves a rigorous assessment process and is awarded by a recognized authority or professional organization.

Certificates. Generally shorter-term educational programs that focus on specific skills or knowledge areas.

While certificates can enhance one's expertise in a niche area, certifications tend to carry greater weight in validating a broader range of competencies and are often sought after for professional advancement and industry recognition.

Why Certification and Certificates are important?

Earning credentials via certification or obtaining a certificate in the area of volunteer engagement creates a ripple effect of benefits for the volunteer engagement professional (VEP), organization, volunteer program, volunteers, and community. Below are just a few reasons which explain the importance of professional development by achieving certification or certificates.

Provides a solid foundation. Volunteer engagement professionals are often better equipped to recruit, manage, and retain volunteers. It ensures that those working with volunteers understand the best practices, legalities, and ethical considerations involved. This knowledge minimizes risks, protects volunteers, and ultimately leads to a more positive experience for everyone involved. Professionals are often more efficient at managing volunteer programs, which can lead to cost savings for the organization.

Adds credibility. When volunteers know that the people coordinating their efforts have undergone advanced training and education, it instills trust. This trust can be the difference between volunteers committing for the long haul or just dipping their toes in. Higher volunteer satisfaction can often result because professionals who are certified or have earned a certificate tend to provide better volunteer experiences.

Expands professional community. Volunteer engagement professionals also benefit from a broader network of like-minded peers and mentors, facilitating collaboration and idea-sharing. The sense of community and mentorship helps professionals stay updated with emerging trends and continuously improve their strategies.

Opens doors. As the volunteer engagement field evolves, organizations are increasingly looking for professionals who have demonstrated their commitment to the role through certification or certificate attainment. It can be a deciding factor when competing for jobs or promotions in the nonprofit sector. Specialized training and education can also create opportunities to earn a higher salary for paid volunteer engagement positions.

List of Certifications

As found below, CAVNC (North Carolina), CVA, and the PLV (Australia) credentials are certifications using a combination of assessment, professional development, and eligibility to prove the formal certification.

Certified Administrator of Volunteers in North Carolina (CAVNC) - NC, USA
Offered by NCAVA (North Carolina Association of Volunteer Administrators) and to its members, this professional credential enhances the professional identity of volunteer administrators across the state of North Carolina.

Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) - Online
Earning your CVA is a process administered by Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) that includes passing an online exam. Maintaining the CVA credential is achieved by earning a required number of PDUs (Professional Development Units) and renewing every five years.

Professional Leaders of Volunteers (PLV) - Australia
PLV is a designation provided by participating organizations in Australia, of which a membership is typically required to participate. Earning the right to place PLV after your name is achieved once you accumulate the required minimum number of points from eligible activities, as part of the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program.

List of Certificates

Found below are academic or professional learning opportunities, where completion provides a certificate but does not enable someone to be considered "certified."

Certificate in Volunteer Management (In-Person) - Florida, USA
Conducted by a Nonprofit Leadership Center trainer, this certificate consists of three half-days of interactive and practical in-person training of the best practices relevant to today’s volunteer manager while preparing today’s volunteer managers to more effectively recruit, retain and recognize volunteers. Certificates are awarded by the Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management (FAVRM).

Certified Volunteer Manager (In-Person) - Arkansas, USA
This six-month, in-person program is offered by Arkansas Public Administration Consortium (APAC) and develops volunteer professionals’ leadership and management skills that align with international standards for volunteer management.

Leadership and Volunteer Management (Online) – North Carolina, USA
This certificate is provided by North Carolina State University and obtained by completing four online courses. The certificate is intended to enhance a student’s work in organizational administration and/or volunteer management including volunteer recruitment, retention, risk management, and recognition.

Volunteer and Community Resource Management Certificate (Online) – Texas, USA
Offered by University of North Texas, earning this certificate in six months requires the successful completion of 12 hours in eligible undergraduate courses which are conducted online.

Volunteer Management Certificate (In-Person) - Texas, USA
This in-person certificate course is presented by CMN and includes three days of personalized instruction on the critical elements for creating a robust and welcoming volunteer program. The Volunteer Management Certificate is designed for those who work with volunteers or for a nonprofit considering adding a volunteer initiative.

Volunteer Management Certificate (Online) - Conestoga College, Canada
A one-year online program offered by Conestoga College. The courses align with the accepted professional and program standards established by the Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC), Volunteer Canada, and the National Occupational Standards.

Volunteer Management Certificate (Online) - Fleming College, Canada
A four-course online program offered by Fleming College. This certificate focuses on the specialized skills set of managing volunteers as opposed to employees. The certificate was developed based on the standards and practices set out by the Human Resources Council of Canada and the Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC).

Volunteer Management Certificate (Online) - Mohawk College, Canada
A four-course online program that provides the knowledge, skills training and development for effective management of volunteer programs.


Certification and certificates are essential tools for volunteer engagement professionals who are committed to advancing their careers and improving their ability to effectively manage and mobilize volunteers. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the field, if you're serious about making a difference in the world of volunteer engagement, perhaps it's time to consider earning credentials via certification or obtaining certificates as your next strategic step.

Please comment below about your certification and certificate experience or to let us know of any additional certification and certificate opportunities we could add to our list.