How to Have Fun at Dinner Parties and Why CVA Certification Matters  

By Guest Author: Faiza Venzant CVA, CVRM, General Manager, Volunteer Development, YMCA of Greater Toronto and Board Member, Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration 

I love a dinner party. Meeting new people, yummy food, good music. I especially love the question that everyone (but me) asks over and over again. “What do you do?”  

I will passionately share my experiences about my work in volunteer engagement with anyone who will listen but the response I often get, accompanied by a look which is one part concern, one part puzzlement and one part curiosity is, “So you’re a volunteer, how can you live on that?”  

I’ve been working in the field of volunteer engagement for almost 20 years. Not much has changed for me at dinner parties except that I tend to opt for stretchy pants and flats more often than a cute dress and heels.  

Once, halfway through dessert at a dinner party, someone said to me, “So is it like HR for volunteers?” This is where I start to feel tired.  

Our profession is vital and vibrant. We’re pretty amazing in our ability to inform strategy, inspire action, and galvanize individuals and groups to invest their non-renewable resource of time.  

And we get them to do it repeatedly while making them jump through screening hoops!  

We connect, we create, we educate, we motivate, we coach, we mentor, we plan and we prioritize. We wear many hats/hijabs/kippahs in our day to day work.  

We’re outstanding! We are!  

But we still go to dinner parties and…Can we all agree that it’s time to change the perception of volunteer engagement?  

One incredible way I’ve been able to do that is through certification.  

In 2016, I obtained my CVA designation from the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration 

Here are three ways obtaining the certification has already been a no brainer for me. Gosh! I only wish I had done it sooner.  


The CVA is the only international professional credential for volunteer engagement professionals. Obtaining the certification has already increased my credibility as a speaker, writer, professional, and mentor not only in Canada but around the world.

A happy coincidence of that is that my network has exploded and I have an international community of CVAs that I can look to for help and resources.  


Since obtaining my CVA certification, I feel a renewed confidence in my ability, career prospects and options for growth and development in our field.  

The task of preparing, studying and sitting for the certification exam was an affirmation that I am doing work that is valuable and requires great skill. It also reinforced that this is a profession that requires constant learning, building new connections and daily work in better understanding people through a personal commitment to diversity and inclusion work.  


We spend our days asking people to contribute. Obtaining my CVA has allowed me to do the same for our profession. I believe in certification so much that I now volunteer as a Board Member for CCVA.  

Being able to contribute on behalf of people whose work I admire is a privilege. (And by people, I mean you!) As a CVA, take your knowledge to AL!VE, your local Association of Volunteer Administrators, or the VolunteerPro Community and contribute what you can when you can.  

Bringing credibility and confidence to your work and making a contribution to the profession through obtaining your CVA is one way to elevate this profession and attract the recognition we seek.  

2020 Exam Dates and Application Deadlines for CVA Certification 

Below are some key dates you need to be aware of. 

Applications are accepted on a continual basis, however there is a deadline for each exam window. 

Spring Exam Window 

  • Applications due March 1, 2020 
  • Exam window – April 1-14, 2020 

Fall Exam Window 

  • Applications due September 1, 2020 
  • Exam window – October 1-14, 2020 

After you submit your application, it is reviewed.  If you are selected to move forward, you will then be asked to register to sit for the exam.  You can find more details on the process here. 

Also, did you know that members of VolunteerPro get a discount on the application fee? I invite you to learn more at and let your fellow dinner partyers know about the exam you have coming up! 

Seasonal CVA Certification Information Sessions  

Below are some informational sessions scheduled for this year and next. 

Note that these webinars will NOT be recorded. Attendance is required to benefit from the information shared.  Webinars will be approximately 90 minutes long. 

For Candidates Interested in Taking the Exam in 2020  


  • Friday, February 14, 2020 – 2:30 PM Eastern (US and Canada)/11:30 AM Pacific 


  • Friday, May 22, 2020 – 2:30 PM Eastern (US and Canada)/11:30 AM Pacific


  • Friday, July 24, 2020 – 2:30 PM Eastern (US and Canada)/11:30 AM Pacific 

For Candidates Interested in Taking the Exam in 2021 


  • Friday, November 20, 2020 – 2:30 PM Eastern (US and Canada)/11:30 AM Pacific   

If you have additional questions about the process or timeline for getting your CVA, don’t hesitate to reach out to We’d be happy to help! 

So, Are You In? 

If you plan on leveling up your expertise and credibility this year, let us know in the comments below. 

If you’re not planning to sit for your CVA, why not?