History of the CVA Credential

Early Development

The Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) developed the Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) program in the early 1980s as a means of professional development for individuals who mobilize and manage volunteers.  At the time, AVA was the national professional association in the United States with several decades of experience supporting these professionals.  From the beginning, the CVA certification was intended to be:

  • applicable to all types of settings and organizations
  • competency-based
  • international in scope

The program grew slowly but steadily, certifying over 400 individuals in the United States and Canada during its first two decades.  In 2000, AVA revised the program to:

  • update the process to meet the needs of current practitioners
  • reassess the core competencies on which it was based
  • ensure compliance with best practices in professional certification

As a result of this revision, the requirement to recertify every 5 years was instituted.  Individuals who were awarded the credential prior to 2000 were “grandfathered” and allowed to continue using the designation without renewal.

After a successful pilot of the new process in 2001, the program continued to grow with positive feedback from the field. A part-time contractor and over 50 volunteer committee members managed the program, making decisions about test items, scoring of portfolios, selection of reference materials and recertification. An additional 255 professionals were credentialed from January 2001 to August 2006.

Crisis and Transition

In early 2006 the AVA Board of Directors was forced to dissolve the association due to severe financial challenges.

In June 2006, the AVA Board transferred ownership of the CVA program and the “Professional Ethics in Volunteer Administration” publication to a new Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA), with the understanding that they be “preserved and maintained … for the benefit of the profession.”  CCVA was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Virginia in June 2006 with the following mission:

CCVA promotes and certifies excellence in volunteer administration to advance the capacity of communities to effectively engage volunteers.

The creation of this new, independent home enabled the CVA certification program to grow with widespread investment, visibility and support, and to be truly responsive to the changing needs of the profession.  During this period of transition, the program continued to operate without interruption. Over 120 candidates registered for the 2006 cycle, the exam was conducted on schedule, portfolios were reviewed, and all materials were updated. This signaled a high level of commitment to the program and reinforced its perceived value by practitioners in the field.

Subsequent Milestones

2008 – CCVA conducted a Job Analysis study and published the first-ever “Body of Knowledge in Volunteer Administration” identifying the full range of skills and knowledge which serve as the foundation for this field, regardless of where or how it is practiced.

2009 – CCVA published Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice, a textbook organized around the Body of Knowledge. Written by 20 authors from the United States and Canada, it provides a unique contribution to the literature of the field by combining academic concepts and research with practical application.

2010 – The Association of Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals contracted with CCVA to manage its certification program. The Certified Administrator of Volunteer Resources (CAVS) credential is offered specifically for practitioners in healthcare settings in the United States.

2011 — CCVA presented workshops on core competencies and professional ethics at the World Conference on Volunteerism in Singapore. Staff also consulted with the Canadian HR Council in support of its development of new occupational standards in volunteer resource management. Over 1,000 leaders have now earned the CVA credential!

2012 — CCVA welcomed a pilot group of three candidates from Singapore and the first candidate from the United Kingdom. Staff shared information about the core competencies with educators at the ARNOVA conference. A collaborative agreement was executed with the national Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources to offer the CVA credential to their members.

2013 – The second edition of Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice was published. CCVA welcomed a pilot group of candidates from Saudi Arabia. The first CVAs were awarded to practitioners in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

2014  –  A comprehensive Practice Analysis Study as conducted to update the body of knowledge and core competencies for the field.  The validation survey was distributed globally with over 800 response received.  The CVA renewal process was also updated and revised to include more options for earning professional development units.  The first CVA was awarded in Zambia.

2015 – The new CCVA Body of Knowledge and Competency Framework was released. As of this year, at least one CVA credential has been awarded in 10 countries.

2016 – CCVA transitioned to a new testing service which provided access to the Pearson VUE global network of testing centers.  The Portfolio component was eliminated from the CVA certification process.  The Professional Ethics in Volunteer Administration document was revised and updated, and the third edition of Volunteer Administration:  Professional Practice was published.

2018 – CCVA transitioned away from administering the CAVS designation for leaders of volunteers in healthcare settings.

2019 – CCVA begins using the YouTestMe online exam portal which provides online testing and virtual proctoring, accessible worldwide.

CCVA was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Virginia in June 2006 with the following mission:

CCVA promotes and certifies excellence in volunteer administration to advance the capacity of communities to effectively engage volunteers.