Our History


Collectively Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) and the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County (VCSC) have over 100 years of experience advancing nonprofits and volunteerism by strengthening leadership, encouraging innovation, and empowering individuals in their communities.

We know that passion alone isn’t enough when it comes to creating strong nonprofits. That’s why we work with aspiring and established leaders every day to help them build the skills and connections that can take their impact to the next level.

Together we offer comprehensive programs that support nonprofits and volunteers including training, executive search, customized consulting solutions, volunteer matching, and corporate engagement. Heart of Marin™ and Heart of Napa™ events support nonprofits of every size and mission through recognition and cash awards. Other programs and services include the Sonoma Human Race, Secret Santa, Court Referral Program, and Volunteer Wheels. We provide disaster preparedness training and serve as an Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC), overseeing spontaneous volunteers and donations for Napa, Marin, and Sonoma Counties in the aftermath of a disaster. We believe that with confident and prepared leaders, our nonprofits will be better equipped to create healthy, happy communities.


1960’s

1964 – Volunteer Bureau of Marin County opens

1967– Became a United Way Agency

1968 – Began transportation program; transferred to Marin Senior Coordinating Council in 1991

1969 – Opened an office at the Department of Social Services and Probation Dept.


1970’s

1970 – Held 1st Marin Designer Showcase

1971 – First executive director roundtable in Marin; Volunteer Center of Sonoma County started by group of philanthropists, including Jean Schultz and Henry Trione

1972 – Formation of Auxiliary in Marin; Volunteer Center of Sonoma operates with 1 staff member with a budget of 19K, 75% of which came from one donor

1972 – Founded Youth Division, The Switching Yard, which became Youth Connection; Volunteer Center of Sonoma County became incorporated and has first program, RSVP

1972 – Published 1st county-wide guide to volunteer opportunities

1974 – Established West Marin Volunteer Bureau in Point Reyes Station

1975 – Volunteer of Sonoma County’s Volunteer Wheels Program began with one van for disabled people and 20 volunteers who drove their own cars

1976 – Volunteer Center of Sonoma County begins Court Referral Program; placed 409 referrals in its first year

1977 – Published 1st Marin County Resource Directory

1978 – Started Senior Connection, a visiting program for isolated elders; moved to Family Service Agency

1979 – Developed San Anselmo Volunteer Effort


1980’s

1980 – Volunteer Wheels expands to become a county-wide program

1981 – Volunteer Center of Sonoma County starts the Management Assistance Program (later called Resource Center) s as a joint project with United Way and the County of Sonoma

1982 – Opened temporary Inverness office to aid flood victims; Sonoma County Human Race is launched and raises $1,800;

1983 – First Marin Human Race; changed name to Volunteer Center of Marin

1985 – Developed volunteer program for Bay Model Visitor Center; participated in the founding of Marin Community Foundation (MCF)

1986 – Began Senior Focus — 2 year program to develop retiree volunteerism; nominated 1st appointee to MCF Board of Trustees as an appointing authority

1987 – First time Marin Human Race raises $100,000 for agencies and schools; west Marin emergency food pantry opened

1988 – Volunteer Center of Sonoma County starts Youth Program with a Crocker Foundation grant that placed 56 students as tutor companions


1990’s

1991 – Launched Holiday Gifts of Love, a holiday gift & service opportunity to help those in need

1990 – Secret Santa program introduced as The Giving Tree, with 1 tree and 600 wishes; Volunteer Center of Sonoma County starts Hands Across the County, where residents cleaned up and improved schools and nonprofit agencies

1992 – Produced booklet on schooI-community partnerships, distributed by State Dept. of Education; joined management team of new Marin InterAgency Disaster Response Plan; deployed staff/volunteers to assist in disaster relief after Hurricane Andrew and Oakland Hills fire

1993 – Corporate Volunteer Council started to support corporate/business employee volunteer engagement

1994 – Deployed staff to help after Northridge earthquake

1995 – Directors of Volunteers in Agencies created to provide professional development for volunteer managers

1996 – C-MAP (California Management Assistance Partnership), a consortium of regional nonprofit support organizations providing training and technical assistance to nonprofits, are provided funding by James Irvine Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, California Wellness, and California Endowment

1998 – C-MAP funding from California Endowment is instrumental in Marin Council of Agencies (MCA’s) ability to build core support training and education

1999– Alliance talks begin between Volunteer Center and MCA


2000’s

2001 – Merger between the Volunteer Center and MCA, creating Marin Nexus; partner with Tamalpais Bank on Heart of Marin; study commissioned: “Fostering Leadership and Community in Marin’s Non-profit Sector”

2002 – Technical assistance provided to MCF Faiths Initiative grantees

2003 – Name changed to Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL); Marin Designer Showcase (MDS) established Heart Tug Award to donate a percentage of proceeds; for 5 years over $100,000 was donated to 14 members including Meals of Marin, Marin Brain Injury Network, RotaCare Free Clinic, Casa Allegra, Marin Abused Women’s Services, Bridge the Gap, St. Vincent de Paul, Wildcare, Helen Vine Detox Center, and Ritter Center; joined Marin County School to Career Partnership; BoardMatch Marin launches to connect agencies with board candidates; Community Action Team started to expand and enrich youth volunteerism

2004 – Masters of Marin/ProBono Marin established; opened the Nonprofit Library Resource Center

2005 – With MarinSpace, developed nonprofit resource center at 555 Northgate Drive; Marin Leadership Institute established; participated in the establishment of Marin 2-1-1; Michael Lerner, founder of Commonweal, keynotes at Marin Nonprofit Conference

2006 – Honored with Excellence in Communications by Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network

2007 – Published 1st Marin Nonprofit Landscape Study; National Council on Aging grant to engage 50+; Executive Search & Transition Services and Emerging Leaders Program launched

2008 – Accept Achievement in Innovation Award from California Association of Nonprofits for work in engaging older adults in high impact volunteering; Nonprofit Sustainability Forum held

2009 – Designated a HandsOn Affiliate; Flexible (FLEX) Volunteer Program launched; 211 is launched in Sonoma County, connecting people to health and disaster information, social services, and referrals


2010’s

2010 – Union Bank becomes presenting sponsor of Heart of Marin

2011 – Awarded George W. Romney Award for Excellence by Points of Light Institute; selected as lead for California Volunteers Service Enterprise Initiative

2013 – “Marin Nonprofit Study: Resilience, Resourcefulness, and Recovery is commissioned”

2014 – Designated HandsOn Affiliate for Napa and Sonoma; celebration of 50 years serving community!; expanded into Napa County; deployed staff and opened EVC to help after American Canyon earthquake

2015 – Move to 65 Mitchell; Service Enterprise expands to Napa County and San Quentin; Volunteer Center of Sonoma County holds first Desserts, Purses, and Cocktails fundraiser

2016 – Expanded into Solano County with a contract to run their Volunteer Matching Program, “Solano Volunteers”; released landscape study on Napa County nonprofit sector, “Creating Community: Napa County Nonprofits at Work”; launched new volunteer portal, “Bay Area Volunteers”; began partnership with One Mind Institute to recruit and coordinate all volunteers for their Music Festival for Brain Health

2017 – Partnered with Redwood Credit Union to distribute $1.621 million to people impacted by the North Bay Fires; held first Napa County Volunteer Fair; partnered with the Home Depot Foundation, California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), the Tug McGraw Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity Napa Solano to deliver a day of service project to benefit more than 900 veterans at the California Veterans Home Yountville

2018 – Heart of Marin celebrates 25 years!; restarted the Marin Volunteer Fair

2019 – Merged with the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County to better meet the growing needs of Northern CA nonprofits and volunteers; 211 becomes part of United Way Wine Country