Volunteer Resources Leadership

Volunteer Resources Leadership: Capacity Building in Minnesota (VRL) began as a three-year capacity building initiative to expand and strengthen volunteer leadership across the state through strategies that would create widespread systemic change. With a special emphasis on targeting diverse and grassroots communities, the initiative built infrastructure, tools, and capacity for successful volunteer leadership.

MAVA and a number of community partners began implementing VRL in November 2005 to address barriers to successful volunteerism.  Key strategies included:

  • Strengthening volunteer resources infrastructure and competence through affordable, accessible volunteer resources leader training
  • Strengthening local volunteer resources networks to create a structure for self-sustaining peer-to-peer professional development.
  • Advocating with decision makers for best practices, necessary resources and policy in volunteer resources leadership.
  • Strengthening community/organization abilities to recruit and retain volunteers.


The VRL initiative well exceeded its objectives. Over 1,000 leaders of volunteers were trained, with over 500 receiving certification for completing the entire series. Training was offered in all regions of the state with 32 organizations partnering with MAVA to implement the initiative. A train the trainer model resulted in a resource of 60+ trainers statewide. The Volunteer Impact Leadership Training Series that was developed as part of the VRL initiative will continue to be offered as an ongoing program of MAVA programming.  In addition to these outcomes, VRL established MAVA as a lead statewide organization that has significantly impacted capacity for professional volunteer leadership and one that can manage resources for significant impact.  See the full report on the initiative.   

Based on the success of the initiative, MAVA is broadening the VRL initiative to include development of volunteer leadership resources on critical advanced topics.  The initial advanced topics currently being developed are “Volunteerism in Immigrant and Refugee Communities” and “Engaging Baby Boomers as Volunteers”.  New advanced topics will be added in the future to bring the latest information on timely issues to leaders of volunteerism in the state.  Each advanced topic will be delivered in multiple sites throughout the state with the resources and partnerships developed during the VRL initiative.

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