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Our History

The beginning

Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada traces back its origins to the Canadian Association of Directors of Volunteer Services in Healthcare (CDVH) that grew to encompass a Canada wide membership since its inception in Ottawa in February 1980. The groundwork was accomplished by a small group of Directors of Volunteer Services (DVS) representing six provinces in conjunction with the President of the Canadian Hospital Association, spearheaded by Madame Fernande Robitaille a DVS from Montréal, Qc .


At a Canadian conference organized for DVS in Healthcare in July 1980, the goal to establish a national organization as an affiliate member of the Canadian Hospital Association, began to take shape.  A Steering Committee, chaired by Elsa-Ann Pickard (Toronto) with Dorothy Leavitt (Calgary), Melsie Waldner (Saskatoon), Beth Phillips (Winnipeg) and Fernande Robitaille (Montréal), developed a Constitution and By-laws proposal for a national association, which was accepted at the first Association Meeting held in Winnipeg on June 12, 1981.

At this same meeting, Elsa-Ann Pickard’s mandate was renewed and the Steering Committee was empowered to function as the board for the following year.   The first Annual General Meeting was held on June 16, 1982 in Toronto, at this meeting Melsie Waldner from Saskatoon became the first elected President of the Association.  CDVH Became incorporated on January 26, 1983.

So much was accomplished in these formative years with limited resources and no technology. The association grew and progressed with many telephone calls, letters by mail and in-person meetings and conferences (often without financial support from employers) – this is a true testament to the dedication of the founding members of our association.   
From 1986 to 1989 an education committee began to take shape to meet the needs of the membership. With the vision and leadership of pioneers in the field such as Joan Lamontagne (Montréal), Anne King (Saint John), Jan Halliday (Vancouver) and Helen Hyndman (Halifax) plans for a National professional designation became a reality: Certification and recertification of members would now be offered by CDVH.


During the early to mid-1990s discussion began regarding the future of the association and its mandate. Talk of choosing a new name for the association came about as a result of the Strategic Planning process and on-going consultations with members at the 1994 & 1995 Conference sessions called Future Directions. At these sessions, the members encouraged the Board to examine the membership issue. Who are our constituents? Who could our constituents be in the future? As a result, a motion was passed at the Annual General Meeting of 1995 to form a task force to look at expanding the membership and thereby the Association. The Strategic Planning Committee put forward a plan for the Association that was approved at the November 1995 Board Meeting. In 1996 the Association then moved to expand its membership beyond health-related agencies and encompass all those who manage volunteers and volunteer programs and thereby proposed the resolution to change the name of the Association to Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources (CAVR).

In 1996 the Alberta Association of Directors of Volunteer Services in Healthcare transferred ownership of their copyrighted Standards of Practice to CDVH/CAVR.  In October 1997 these were revised and released to the members as the first edition of national standards for our profession. These standards were designed to evolve and be adapted to the needs or the profession. In 2006 they become an integral component of the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement.

At the August 1998 AGM the first edition of a national code of ethics was shared with the membership.  


In June 2000 CAVR began to embrace the use of new technology and launched its first website, receiving between 300-400 hits per month.

In 2001 CAVR President, Mireille Roy represented the association on the International Working group on the profession to draft the first Universal Declaration on the Profession of Leading and Managing Volunteers.

In January 2002 the Ethical Audit Help Shape the History of an Expanding Profession: Management of Volunteer Resources was released in partnership with the McGill-McConnell Masters of Management for National Voluntary Sector Leaders Program. A CAVR Committee, led by Marjolaine Lalonde worked diligently on this important partnership. 

In September 2002, Mireille Roy attended the Scotland Association of Volunteer Management Annual General meeting, representing the association, and our country, as a guest speaker.
The years 2002 and 2003 saw the signing of the first affiliation agreements between existing  Provincial/Local associations and CAVR, welcoming Administrators of Volunteer Resources BC and  Volunteer Management Group of Edmonton as the first to formalize this mutually beneficial relationship with the national body.  PAVRO, NSAVR and MAVA followed shortly in June 2004.

CAVR position’s as a national leader continued to expand:  the association secured seats for two National forums of the Canadian Volunteer Initiative (CVI). The Selection Committee regarding Provincial Host Groups and the CVI National Council both had CAVR representation. CAVR representatives were present in many other national projects and continued its long partnership with the Canadian Council for Healthcare Accreditation (now Accreditation Canada) as a consultant.

In 2003 the Exchange Newsletter was published for the first time, connecting members for the first time with a bilingual, electronic e-newsletter.  Five issues were published this first year!

In 2005 a first membership survey is organized to learn salary ranges of members as well as to increase awareness of the employment resources that were recently developed.

As of April 2007 CAVR, attains the milestones of having 923 active members and a website receiving over 7 600 each month. This year also saw the launch of a new and improved CAVR website, an important project lead by Karen Howe, Debbie Kennedy and Alison Stevens.

Between January 2007 and May 2009 CAVR joined a network of stakeholders from across the country to guide the Sector Study lead by the HR Council for the Non-Profit Sector. The Study was intended to address gaps in information about the key characteristics of the sector’s labor force and to address the issues of skill needs and recruitment and retention.

CAVR also participated in three national projects:  the development of an occupational standard for Volunteer Management, in partnership with the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, the Skills-Based Approach to Volunteer Engagement project by Volunteer Canada and Imagine Canada’s Ensuring Excellence Accreditation program.

2010 -2019

At the 2010 National Conference in St. John’s, NL, the Board began to once again re-visit the future directions of the Association. In November of the same year, extraordinary board meetings were held in Winnipeg and a new Mission, Vision and three-year strategic plan was developed and launched at the 2011 National Conference in Vancouver, BC. Key elements of the plan included a new communications strategy, the development of strategic partnerships and increase the profile of CAVR.

Part of the strategic plan included the creation of a task force to review and evaluate our National Certification program and propose a more viable option to ensure continued success of this important credential. In 2012, based on a recommendation of the task force, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a partnership with the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) and thus discontinuing the CAVR certification, replacing it with an international certification process.  With this change the Association’s role shifts to one of promotion and support of members working towards the CVA (Certified in Volunteer Administration) designation.

In June 2012, the final version of the National Occupational Standards for Managers of Volunteer Resources (© 2012 HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector) was released to membership at the National Forum held in Calgary.  This was culmination of an extensive partnership during which the association held a pivotal role on the advisory committee and on the consultation of the membership.  CAVR’s participation in this project was spearheaded by board members Donna Carter and Chris Peacock.

In the fall of 2012 a facilitated branding session was held as part of the association’s communication strategy. President Suzie Matenchuk described the experience as “a renewed sense of energy (…) as we explored a new brand for the association”.

After a lengthy consultation process with the membership, once again a new name and visual identity was proposed for the Association. The membership wanted a name that focused on the profession, not a job title and a name that was widely known, recognized and commonly understood by those within and outside of the profession. 

On March 4, 2014, the membership convened for an online special general meeting and voted in favor of changing the name of the Association to Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada (VMPC).  Shortly thereafter and new logo, branding and updated website were launched.

The 2015 conference held in Edmonton was the occasion for a few “Firsts”. For the first time our National Conference and AGM was simultaneously broadcasted to remote locations throughout the country. This unique opportunity was well appreciated by our members and a great learning opportunity. This also marked the association’s arrival on Twitter with the tweet of a first photo: a selfie with the VMPC president and conference co-chairs.

Later that year VMPC Employment Resources and the Code of Ethics were completely revised and peer reviewed, releasing them with a renewed content and updated branding.

In October 2016 VMPC continued to endeavor to reach more of its members by launching a webinar series. This pilot project was well received and was quickly destined to become a very important component of educational opportunities offered.

2019 -Present

In early 2020 reports of a new coronavirus began to spread throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic increasingly affected our country and by March 2020 many jurisdictions quickly closed non-essential services and many members were directly impacted. Job losses and/or redeployment to other sectors as well as  suspensions and reduction of volunteer involvement in many organizations became common practice.  VMPC reacted swiftly and convened regular national virtual meetings to support members and share information throughout the crisis.  

For the first time in its history, the association was forced to cancel a National Conference: the 2020 edition scheduled to be held in Saskatoon, would not be possible because of the pandemic.