Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP)

Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP)

Portland State University’s Department of Public Administration offers this educational series designed to build a volunteer program to standards of excellence, and to provide professional development for practitioners. Volunteers are engaged in programs and projects around the world in new and exciting ways. Recruiting and organizing them is both art and science. The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) a fully online series of courses leading to a Certificate of Completion in Volunteer Engagement and Leadership.

Program Benefits:

 Students in the online series will:

  • Increase their volunteer engagement and administration knowledge and skill in such topics as recruiting, training, supervision, evaluation, risk management, and recognition
  • Gain ideas from seasoned instructors and colleagues
  • Network with other professionals

Students will learn to:

  • Identify the steps to successful volunteer engagement
  • Assess the needs for new volunteer positions and of current volunteers
  • Organize a recruiting campaign for a specific style of volunteering, using a volunteer recruiting team
  • Organize a “training” session
  • Work well with difficult volunteers
  • Review motivational theories as they relate to the engagement of three styles of volunteering
  • Understand the reasons for evaluating program, events, or projects
  • Understand methods of collecting information to complete evaluations of program, events, or projects
  • Use the Multi-Paradigm Model of Volunteering Styles
  • Identify the elements of a successful volunteer program
  • Screen people as appropriate for placement
  • Explore the leadership role of managers of volunteers in relationship to volunteers, their organization, colleagues, and administrators
  • Lead and manage in a volunteer setting
  • Effectively supervise volunteers
  • Use different recognition techniques for different styles of volunteering

Topics cover the Big Five of Engaging Volunteers:

  • Recruiting
  • Training
  • Supervision
  • Evaluation
  • Recognition

Course Descriptions:

The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) includes two series of courses (Standard and Advanced) that cover the dynamics of creating a successful volunteer management program. Professionals who want to enhance their knowledge of volunteer management, but do not want to complete a full series, may enroll in single courses.

  • PA 430 Recruitment of Volunteers (10 weeks) engages students in a marketing approach to the recruitment of volunteers.  Interactive activities involve students in practical discussions of the different styles of volunteering—traditional and episodic; building a recruiting plan, advertising and promotion for volunteers, and the organization of a volunteer recruiting team. Assignments in all classes are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.
  • PA 431 Training of Volunteers (10 weeks) engages students in organizing training sessions for volunteers. Topics include: how adults learn, learning styles, building content, measureable learning objectives, selecting the best teaching techniques, and evaluation of learning. Assignments in all classes are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.
  • PA 432 Leadership and Management in Volunteer Programs (10 weeks). Effective leadership begins and ends with successful communication. Managing volunteers requires knowledge of one’s own communication and leadership style and that of others! Information must be passed accurately in order to lead people. Students in this class study the components of communication required to effectively lead and manage the work of volunteers: personal communication style, feedback, leadership, and building effective relationships. Managing volunteers is based on an understanding of what motivates volunteers to serve and to stay. This class reviews four motivational theories and applies them in the volunteer setting. There is also opportunity to review conflict resolution strategies. Risk management is discussed in some depth.
  • PA 433 Evaluation and Recognition in Volunteer Programs (10 weeks) tackles two functional areas for those who manage volunteers. Students tackle evaluation methods, types, and styles for programs and for individual volunteers. Motivational theories are connected to the effectiveness of different type of recognition, intrinsic and extrinsic.

Assignments in all classes are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program. Assignments can be used immediately in existing volunteer programs.

Course Schedule:

Term Fall Winter Spring Summer
Course PA 430, PA 431 PA 432 PA 433 PA 430


How to register:

If you are a current or past PSU student you can use your existing ODIN account to register. If you are new to PSU, you must first apply as a Non-Degree Applicant ($25 fee). For information on how to register, please see PSU's registration page for full instructions and links.

  • You have the flexibility to take many of the Online VELP courses in any order
  • You can register for courses individually and as a non-admitted student
  • Audits are by instructor permission and must pay full tuition

Tuition and fees:

For information on tuition, please follow this link to the PSU Tuition and Fees page. Tuition is calculated by class standing, residency, and number of credits per term. This calculation does not include the $40 per credit fee added to online courses.

Completing the Certificate:

Participants who successfully complete a full series of VELP courses will receive written acknowledgement of completion from Portland State University’s Department of Public Administration.

To request your certificate, please submit to the form below. You will need to enter the following information:
•    First and Last Name (to appear on certificate)
•    PSU ID number
•    Term each class in the series was taken/completed
•    Address (where you would like your certificate sent)

VELP Completion Form

Program Faculty:

Nancy Macduff