Promoting Voluntary Service Since 1945
CVSA is an all-volunteer coordinating and consultative body of nongovernment volunteer service organizations founded in 1945 to promote, expand, and strengthen voluntary service programs that serve people in need and are organizing for change. We carry out activities to inspire and compel more people into action as volunteers involved in service to others and organizing to build a better world. We provide supportive services on a mutual assistance basis to our members, which are independent organizations based mostly throughout North America as well as around the rest of the world.
* CVSA publishes and distributes the biennial INVEST YOURSELF: A Guide to Action, a comprehensive catalogue of full- and part-time volunteer opportunities with nongovernment and community-based organizations which is distributed nationwide.
* CVSA conducts community education campaigns and volunteer recruitment outreach to promote and distribute INVEST YOURSELF and to expand general awareness, support for and involvement with independent volunteer service and action organizations.
* CVSA works to protect the fundamental right of individuals to freely associate with others and participate in voluntary service activities that stand independent from the domain of narrow private financial interests or failed government programs and maintain accountability to the needs of the people and communities being served, providing examples of how best to serve people and care for the planet.
* CVSA promotes genuine, independent voluntary service to those in need, without remuneration to any individual or strings attached in exchange for the service given. CVSA rejects schemes that exploit volunteers through programs in which “volunteers” are employed by the government as free or cheap labor, replacing former union-wage workers; or in which ‘volunteers” are supplied by public agencies as subsidized labor to private corporations (designated as “trainees”), to the companies’ profit and the “trainee’s” expense; and in which student “volunteers” work off their loans at minimum-wage jobs that perpetuate conditions of poverty.
* CVSA has long recognized and promoted the special role of full-time volunteers in all movements for progressive change and in service to others, especially those who have been marginalized.
* In 2013 CVSA gained Special NGO Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN, having had NGO status associated with the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the UN since 1946.
* CVSA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. We operate with an entirely volunteer staff led by full-time volunteer organizers and part-time volunteers. All contributions are applied to operating and expansion expenses. No salaries are paid. We accept no funding that imposes constraints on our ability to serve our membership and the people they serve.
CVSA was founded in 1945 by progressive church leaders as an inter-
denominational council to coordinate and promote opportunities for American volunteers to spend their summers helping citizens of war-torn Europe rebuild homes, water systems and schools, distribute food and establish health and community centers. The original vision was to undermine the causes of the scourge of war and oppression by building international fellowship among all people and to promote volunteer service as a means of bringing people together working to end poverty, discrimination, exploitation and disenfranchisement as well as war. From the beginning, CVSA’s program was carried out independent of the U.S. Marshall Plan or other U.S. government funding. It was a people-to-people program based on the principle that volunteer service programs could exemplify government policy as it should be. CVSA began publishing the annual brochure Invest Your Summer in 1946.
By the early 1960s, CVSA shifted its attention to volunteer projects addressing the poverty and disparities throughout the U.S. — as well as abroad. In 1965 the well-known brochure of summer opportunities became a catalogue entitled INVEST YOURSELF: Involvement and Action, offering year round, part- and full-time volunteer opportunities with both faith-based and secular community-based volunteer organizations throughout the U.S. as well as the rest of the world. In 1983 CVSA incorporated and became an independent organization, and INVEST YOURSELF continues to this day to be used as the most comprehensive catalogue of nongovernmental voluntary service opportunities by colleges, libraries, faith communities, schools professional associations, community centers and by individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
Since the turn of the 21st century, we have seen many previously impoverished developing nations make great social and economic advances for their people through regional alliances around equitable trade, sharing of sustainable technology and collaborations that build solidarity instead of exploitation and war.
Volunteer-based organizations within and among countries can also make alliances that collectivize their experience and knowledge to advance toward achieving mutually beneficial shared goals in solidarity towards building a better world.
CVSA has provided that caliber of forward-thinking leadership and
accumulated that kind of organizing expertise over the past 70 years with
an entirely volunteer staff, community support, in-kind donations of materials and services and a very modest budget. Current conditions and needs call for all of us to do so much more. Together we will grow, treat these challenges as opportunities and truly build a better world.
Join with us!
CVSA membership is available to nongovernment organizations, that involve volunteers in their work of materially aiding people and communities in need, as well as to organizations that support or place volunteers with such efforts. Membership is also available to individuals with personal or professional involvement or interest in the voluntary service and action field.
Just as an organization is stronger than an individual, the collective experience of many organizations with common interests is more powerful than any single individual or organizations.
See JOIN CVSA page for benefits of being a member and how to join.