August 2007 Update

Dear COVAA Delegates and Friends,

The COVAA Steering Committee has been very busy this last month as we continue to follow your mandate to create a new, national membership association. We are working very thoughtfully to ensure that this association is relevant, positive, and sustainable. The following is a recap of our July activities:

Several members of the Steering Committee and sub-committees attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Philadelphia. COVAA had a booth as an exhibitor. Over one hundred people visited the booth and signed up to be on the mailing list. Feedback was very enthusiastic. People indicated a strong need for an organization like COVAA. Many volunteer managers are eager to join a national organization that will help them to develop professionally and represent their interests at the “national table”.

In addition to our presence in the exhibition hall, members of COVAA convened a Town Hall Meeting as a pre-conference event. As stakeholders in the profession, attendees participated in a dialogue, as well as received a report on the outcomes of the Congress in Denver, progress of the Steering Committee, and next steps. Over 40 people attended this pre-conference opportunity, including attendees of last December’s Congress in Denver, colleagues of Congress attendees, and representatives of interested national organizations such as the Corporation for National and Community Service, The National Assembly, and VolunteerMatch. Download the PowerPoint presentation that was given at this meeting.

An important part of the Town Hall meeting agenda was to gather feedback on the Steering Committee’s work to date. Attendees were asked for comments regarding the drafts of the mission statement, vision statement, and value statement, as well as their thoughts regarding COVAA’s unique niche. Without repeating all of the feedback that was made during the two hour meeting, the following themes were identified:

  1. People want something to join and they want to join it NOW! People do not feel that it is necessary for the Steering Committee to have everything done in order for the new organization to be launched. The “baby” needs to simply be birthed and the new organization will grow and develop in the future.
  2. The feedback on the drafts of the different statements included
    • The vision statement is too much like a mission statement and needs to reflect where we want to be in the future.
    • The mission statement needs to clearly explain the value of COVAA.
    • The mission statement may need to include the word, “networking” or something similar, as well as words related to advocating on behalf of the profession and advanced training. It was also noted that all levels or types of volunteer leaders should be acknowledged so it is clear who we serve.
    • The value statement would be best supported if we identified our core beliefs as an organization.
  3. It was commented that we need to become clearer regarding what we mean by inclusivity in our value statement. A professional association is automatically exclusive since not everybody is a professional.
  4. It was commented that we need to reflect whether we are an association of associations or an association of individuals or both.

The Steering Committee has followed their commitment to take the naming of this entity seriously and waiting until research can be done on the best term for future outreach. Over the last few months, many suggestions for a name have come forward. One came forward during the Town Hall meeting and is being added to the list for review by the Steering Committee, stakeholders, and delegates. Town Hall attendees were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the lively demonstration by the group who offered the suggestion.

At the booth and the Town Hall meeting, some individuals expressed confusion or concern regarding Association of Volunteer Resources Management (AVRM) and COVAA. In April, the COVAA leadership requested a dialogue with AVRM to discuss each organization’s efforts and mutual interests. Since there are new leaders involved, we thought it was appropriate to re-open discussions with AVRM in order to identify opportunities for collaboration. It is clear that both of our groups desire to serve the profession of volunteer resource managers in the best way possible. We have just learned that the leadership of AVRM is available to have a conference call on August 20th. We will let you know the results of that conversation.

COVAA’s Future:

The Steering Committee will be completing organizational identity work soon after all input is received. Each of the sub-committees is beginning to write their sections of the business plan. The goal is to complete organizational development and hand off the new association to its first board of directors by January 2008.

COVAA is following a broad, inclusive path that will lead to a strong professional association. The process has and continues to incorporate representatives of the professionals that will ultimately be served. In addition, COVAA is looking outside of the usual sphere of volunteer engagement to obtain input from other people or organizations with a broad perspective who are also potential collaborative partners. The end result will be a membership association that is going to be an advocacy organization on behalf of the profession, a standard bearer, and a developer of leaders for our communities.


Joanna Johnson and Rita Chick

COVAA Steering Committee Co-Chairs