Welcome tO


Program Overview

Volunteers provide a unique human resource that can enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its mission, priorities, and goals. And, a well-managed volunteer program provides key building blocks that help ensure organizational sustainability.

Kathleen McCleskey and Wendy Biro-Pollard have been collaborating with ACC’s Center for Nonprofit Studies for over a decade. During this time, they have conducted highly rated, four-day courses that provide managers of volunteer resources with state-of-the art, professional development training.

This year, due to COVID-19, the course is going online.  Participants will engage in lecture, discussions and have opportunities for networking and creative problem solving.  They will be given a participant manual filled with checklists and best practice resources–all drawn from Kathleen and Wendy’s careers as practitioners and nationally recognized experts in the field of volunteer engagement.

This course will benefit anyone in the nonprofit, association, and governmental sector who seeks to learn how to build a successful volunteer program. Participants will discover the latest volunteer engagement trends including how to engage and support virtual and remote volunteers.  They will learn key steps in the volunteer engagement process and develop skills and techniques that are useful to any organizational leader.

All sessions have been recognized by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and will cover the Council’s Core Competencies for Managers of Volunteer Resources.

Scheduled Sessions

(4-day course online, live & interactive)

November 15, 16, December 13 & 14


The Certificate in Volunteer Engagement will be conducted over six half-days and will include homework assignments.

Upon completion, participants will earn a Certificate of Completion and 2.8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Austin Community College. These may be eligible for use in meeting professional certification requirements.

Course Textbook: The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook



*Eligible for AmeriCorps education award funds and Hazlewood Act tuition exemption program

This is not a CVA (Certified in Volunteer Administration) credentialing course.

Course Content

Describe the components of a well-run volunteer program

This session sets the stage for the Volunteer Engagement Certificate Program and creates an opportunity for participants to establish a learning community that will sustain them after the course ends. It provides an overview of the steps and processes needed to ensure that a volunteer’s time is used effectively, and that the organization achieves its strategic goals and priorities.

Identify trends that impact volunteer program development
Knowing about societal trends can make the manager of volunteer resources a more effective leader. These trends have implications that can affect his or her ability to recruit, supervise, and recognize volunteers—all elements of good program management. This session is designed to provide information and tools to take full advantage of these trends while diminishing their challenges.
Conduct a mission specific volunteer needs assessment
When an organization determines what people-skills are most needed to help build organizational capacity, it opens the door for a diverse volunteer pool. Participants will learn a simple technique that will generate mission-focused volunteer opportunities and discover ways to create structures that support them.
Create volunteer task descriptions
Task descriptions serve as more than a summary of the volunteer’s role. They can be used as a recruitment and interviewing tool and as a basis for defining performance expectations. For task descriptions to work effectively, they need to be well thought through and contain specific information. Participants will learn how to create volunteer position descriptions that support their role as a volunteer manager.
Develop performance outcomes
This session utilizes a review of performance outcomes, performance of the volunteer and performance of the volunteer program. Utilizing task descriptions and basic program performance criteria will assist the manager of volunteer resources in developing performance outcomes.
Develop philosophy statements
Writing a philosophy statement can be a motivational tool for the future success of a volunteer program. Not only does the statement outline the function and value of the volunteer program, but it also establishes a way to communicate the role of volunteers and the organization’s relationship to those community members. In this session, participants will learn how to create a personal and volunteer philosophy statement.
Design a marketing and recruitment plan
Successful volunteer recruitment depends on many factors—having good task descriptions, knowing how to craft your message, making your organization attractive and utilizing a variety of recruitment techniques. Participants will learn tried-and-true tips and get updates and resources that will challenge them to think differently about what it takes to recruit quality volunteers.
Identify principles of volunteer screening, placing, interviewing, orientation, supervision and training
Volunteer managers perform many of the same tasks as human resource professionals. The volunteer program intake process should mirror the organization’s employee hiring process. In this session, participants will review best practices for vetting, placing and supporting new volunteers whether they be onsite, remote or virtual. When the organization has these steps in place, it reduces the potential for volunteer turnover and organizational risk and liability.
Volunteer recognition is in the eye of the beholder. In this session, participants will review motivational theory and use it to design recognition that meets the needs of the individual volunteer.
Build internal support for the volunteer program
Volunteer managers need to be able to demonstrate that they can solve real problems and can demonstrate that volunteer activities impact the organization’s mandate and mission. Participants will review a variety of strategies to acquire power and build competencies.
Create strong volunteer and staff partnerships
The relationship between volunteers and staff has always been a delicate one, and it’s usually the biggest problem in involving volunteers more effectively in an organization. Participants will come away with tips and tools on how to manage this often-forgotten step in the volunteer management process.
Develop outcome-based measurements
The success of a volunteer program cannot simply be observed but must be measured by using qualitative and quantitative data. The development of outcome-based measures will help to ensure the volunteer program is on a successful track.
Evaluate the volunteer program
Consistent program evaluation is one of the key steps in the volunteer management process. Participants will learn how to evaluate individual volunteers, training and program evaluation.
Define organizational and professional ethics
Ethics is the hallmark of a profession. Managers of volunteer resources have the Core Values and Principles of Volunteer Administration to guide them through various situations they may face as they run their program. Participants will identify core ethical values as well as the principles of citizenship and philanthropy. Portions of the materials are based on information from the Josephson Institute for Ethics.
Plan strategically, operationally and for projects
Volunteer programs are an integral part of a nonprofit. Determining how the program strategically fits into the organization involves understanding systems and processes that can maximize the volunteer program’s impact on the nonprofit.
Lead and supervise volunteers
Being able to lead and supervise volunteers is a vital skill. This session will teach participants when to use different leadership-style techniques and will provide them with a systematic process for supervising volunteers and supporting staff who supervise volunteers.

Successfully Manage


Every volunteer program, from the smallest to the largest, can take steps to avoid surprise when it comes to providing a meaningful experience for volunteers. The ability to assess potential risk and integrate volunteer engagement policies and procedures into the organization’s overall risk engagement plan is vital. Participants will explore a systematic process to alleviate risk concerns especially during COVID-19.


Managing volunteers during an era of epic change can be a real juggling act. Utilizing time management principles can help individuals identify and focus on the activities that will actually save time. This section will provide practical tips that will help managers accomplish their personal and professional goals and assist them in becoming a more effective volunteer manager.


Many volunteers are seeking project-based volunteer opportunities; therefore, keeping a project focused and on time has become a critical skill for leaders of volunteers. Participants will come away with a better understanding of project management basics that will help to ensure program success.


Wendy Biro-Pollard, CVA, and Kathleen McCleskey, MHR, have collaborated for over a decade, and together, they have over 50 years of nonprofit management, training and consulting experience. Wendy and Kathleen have worked all over the United States and in Canada, Europe, Africa, Micronesia, Asia, and the Caribbean. They have managed volunteer programs and consulted and trained for small and large nonprofits, associations, governmental entities, foundations and corporations. With their various skills, degrees and experience, they bring a full range of training and consulting services that will enhance organizational effectiveness.