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Better Impact's best list of Associations for volunteer management professionals around the world

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Leading and supporting volunteer effort is all-too-often a lonely and largely unsupported role in many agencies, where funding may be limited or where the volunteer team are organizationally structured in such a way that the person leading the volunteers is not positioned as part of a larger internal department.

For these reasons, many volunteer engagement professionals have had to develop ways to link with their colleagues externally, as a means of being able to access the insights and generosity of their peers, share experiences, trade strategies, and develop resources to assist them in the important work that they undertake.


While reading books, attending conferences, and engaging in online forums go some way to filling this void – there’s no short cut to the many benefits gained by connecting with colleagues, more formally, through membership of external professional association or network.

In this article, we will explore the history and nature of these associations and provide direct links to further resources you can explore for yourself.

What is a professional association and where did they come from?

A Short History of Professional Associations

It is important to understand that professional associations are nothing new.

In North America, the now defunct Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) emerged as far back as 1961, while Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC) had their origins as far back 1980.

Over the ensuing years, many Professional Associations have been created all around the world.

These include:

  • Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA), 1961 – 2006
  • Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (formerly CAVR), 1980
  • Scottish Association for Volunteer Management (SAVM), 1996
  • Australasian Association for Managers of Volunteers (AAMoV), 1998
  • Professional Association of Volunteer Managers in Ireland (PAVMI), 2000
  • Japan Volunteer Coordinators Associations (JVCA), 2001
  • Korean Association of Volunteer Management (KAVM), 2004
  • Managing & Organising Volunteer Efforts (MOVE), Singapore, 2006
  • Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM), UK, 2006
  • Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE), 2006

Sadly however, a number of these national resources have fallen by the wayside or been merged into other and newer initiatives, but the above list certainly assists in our understanding of just what a global profession the leadership of volunteers really is.

So, just what is an association?

In short, an ‘Association’ is designed to bring together volunteer engagement professionals in a structured way, for the purpose of networking, professional development, the standardization of practices and possibly for the purpose of advocacy to a broader audience.

An example of this is AL!VE’s current mission statement which reads:

AL!VE serves to enhance and sustain the spirit of volunteering by fostering collaboration and networking, promoting professional development, and providing advocacy for leaders in community engagement.

An Association can take several forms.

National Volunteer Engagement Professional Associations

Professional associations of this kind are national in their scope and membership representation, often require the payment of an annual membership fee and are more likely to have advocacy as a key string to their bow. Typically, the core mission of these kinds of agencies will be volunteer leadership and the membership made up primarily of volunteer engagement professionals. It is intended that the national collective voice of such associations can give weight when ideas are presented to other bodies such as volunteer center networks and government departments.

Examples of national professional bodies include the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) in the USA, Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) in the United Kingdom and Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC).

State / Provincial Based Professional Associations

In some places and particularly the United States, state or provincial based associations have also emerged. Their structure and mission often mirror those described above – but of course with a more local membership that represents only their part of a country. Commonly called Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIAs) in the United States, associations of this kind can be found the world over.

Examples of state or provincial associations include the Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement (MAVA) and the New York Association for Volunteer Administration (NYAVA)

Sector Specific Associations

A little less common, are professional associations for leaders of volunteer engagement who work in specific sectors – to be able to get together with peers working in the same industry and to directly share experiences specific to their type of volunteer engagement.

Some examples of this include the New England Association for Directors of Healthcare Volunteer Services (NEADHVS) and Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG) in the UK.

Local Volunteer Leader Associations and Networks

Outside of these larger groups, there are literally hundreds of smaller, locally run networks for volunteer leaders that are hosted around the globe. These are often auspiced by local Volunteer Centers or cities / council / municipalities who in turn often have close affiliations with their respective state / provincial and national bodies. While there’s an argument that these groups are not really a ‘professional association’, they do need to be mentioned in the context of this article simply because their overarching purpose of connecting and education volunteerism leaders is often shared by more formal associations and because they are often far more accessible. While we will not be providing a comprehensive list of these groups in this article, please do check with local volunteer support agencies in your area to see what they offer.

Volunteer Centers

While a volunteer center may not strictly fall into the category of a professional ‘association’, they do often serve many of the same purposes and facilitate many of the same opportunities for leaders of volunteer engagement whose agencies are members of the center. A volunteer center will often have the budget and staff to produce quality resources for members, the drive to create conference and educational opportunities and the desire to connect leaders of volunteering through the hosting of peer network gatherings and training opportunities. For that reason, we have chosen to include reference to volunteer centers in the list of resources provided below.

Current resources

The list below represents some of the key resources, listed by country, that are current as of the date this blog was published:


Global / International

  • International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) – IAVE is the international body that works to promote sustainable volunteering in all its forms, including the development of strong volunteer leadership. IAVE host regional and ‘world’ conferences regularly and one of their key tenets is to develop strong volunteer leadership.
  • International Volunteer Manager’s Day (IVMDay) – While not an association per se, IVMDay seeks to promote and connect volunteer engagement leaders and professionals right across the globe through a shared day of recognition, celebrated each year on November 5.
  • Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) – The CCVA is a recognized global certification that can be studied for and gained by volunteer engagement professionals. While not a formal ‘association’ those who have attained their CCVA form a close-knit network of peers who continue to connect and support one another – long after the study is over!



  • Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC) – The national professional association for leaders of volunteer engagement in Canada. VMPC is dedicated to advocacy, capacity building and networking and seeks to connect and empower volunteerism leaders across Canada. Along with AL!VE and Better Impact, they co-host an international hybrid conference on volunteer engagement annually.
  • City & Provincial based Volunteer Management Associations across Canada:
  • Volunteer Canada – Canada’s national volunteering peak agency that seeks to provide national leadership and expertise on volunteerism. They provide a range of resources to help develop and connect leaders of volunteer engagement.
  • Volunteer Centre Network of Canada – Across Canada many Volunteer Centers exist and provide resources and opportunities to connect for volunteerism leaders. A full list of these Centers can be found via the link above.


  • GERMANY – Academy for Volunteering – The academy is a national organization dedicated to supporting non-profit organizations with training, education, and strategic planning.
  • IRELAND - Volunteer Ireland - Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development agency and a support body for all local Volunteer Centers and Volunteer Information Services in Ireland. They offer a wide range of networking and educational opportunities for volunteer engagement professionals across the country, including the hosting of a national conference and monthly ‘Volunteer Manager’s Coffee Break’ get togethers.
  • IRELAND - Volunteer Centre Network – Volunteer Centers across Ireland are the heart of every community and offer great opportunities to connect with your peers.
  • PORTUGAL – Pista Magica – A national organization who seek to increase and improve volunteering, and as a part of that provide a school and wide range of educational opportunities to those leading and supporting volunteers.
  • SWEDEN – Volunteer Manager’s Network – The Network was formed in 2011 and is a professional association for those in Sweden who organize and lead volunteers.

United Kingdom

  • Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) – Established in 2004, AVM is the national professional association for volunteer engagement professionals in the United Kingdom. AVM are an independent membership body that aims to support, represent, and champion volunteer engagement professionals.
  • ENGLAND – NCVO – The National Council for Voluntary Organizations is a membership community for charities, voluntary organizations, and community groups across England. Amongst other things they offer ways for volunteering leaders to connect and become better educated about volunteer leadership.
  • ENGLAND - Volunteer Centre Network – Local Volunteer Centers across England can connect volunteer engagement leaders with their peers for the purpose of networking and professional development.
  • NORTHERN IRELAND – VOLT NETWORK – ‘Volunteer Organisations Linking Together’ is a network of volunteer involving organizations and their leaders who are brought together for the purpose of peer education and support.
  • NORTHERN IRELAND - Volunteer Now – Volunteer Now is the lead organization for promoting and supporting volunteering across Northern Ireland. They support volunteerism leaders through a range of training opportunities and other networking initiatives.
  • NORTHERN IRELAND - Volunteer Centre Network – Many local Volunteer Centers exist across Northern Ireland to connect local volunteer engagement professionals. A full list can be found via the link above.
  • SCOTLAND - Volunteer Scotland – The peak body for volunteering in Scotland and not only have a focus on volunteers but on assisting leaders of volunteer engagement to become great leaders.
  • WALES – WCVA – WCVA is the national membership body for voluntary organizations in Wales and offer a range of resources to connect and educate volunteer engagement leaders.

United States

Worldwide Specialist Volunteer Management Associations and Networks

  • American Association for Museum Volunteer (AAMV) – The American Association for Museum Volunteers (AAMV) is a professional network for anyone working with museum volunteers in the USA.
  • Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals (AHVRP) – Founded in 1968, AHVRP, is the premier professional membership society for health care volunteer services, retail operations and related support services disciplines. AHVRP provides education, recognition for personal and professional achievements, national networking, as well as affiliation and collaboration with the AHA on public policy and advocacy issues related to health care volunteer services and retail operations. It has state-based chapters and affiliated right around the USA.
  • Heritage Volunteer Group - The Heritage Volunteering Group has a mission to help members unlock the power of volunteering through collaboration and sharing best practice. Based in the UK, they are focused on volunteer leadership in the Heritage sector (museums, libraries, buildings and monuments and other cultural institutions).
  • National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) – Founded in 1997, NAVPLG is the leading national association of directors, managers, and administrators of volunteer programs in city, county, and other local governments.
  • Society for Healthcare Volunteer Leaders (SHVL) - SHVL was founded in 1993 and seeks to provide support to volunteer engagement leaders specifically working in healthcare settings across the USA.


The above list only scrapes the surface of the resources that are available for volunteer engagement leaders to be able to connect, through association, with agencies within their own country, state, province, or city – or even globally.

What’s most important is to remember you’re not alone in this important work that you do – so get out there and get ‘connected!’


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