A Certifying Organization is an organization that has been granted authority through an application and review process to give out the PVSA to volunteers. Certifying Organizations verify and certify that a volunteer has met the requirements to receive a PVSA within a 12 month period specified by the Certifying Organization. Only Certifying Organizations can certify volunteers’ eligibility for the PVSA and order awards.
Certifying Organizations must be established and operate in the United States, its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands), or on overseas U.S. military and state installations. Additionally, Certifying Organizations must receive or facilitate volunteer service.
The following entity types are eligible to become Certifying Organizations if they meet the threshold requirements above:
- Nonprofit organization
- Community-based organization
- Faith-based organization
- School (K12, college, and universities) or institutions of higher learning
- National Service programs
- Civic, fraternal or service organization
- Membership or trade associations
- Federal, state or local government agencies
- U.S. military and state entities abroad (i.e. U.S. military bases and U.S. embassies)
Requirements of the Certifying Organization:
- Verify the volunteer hours required to earn the award.
- Verify volunteers are U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted permanent U.S. residents.
- Pay the nominal cost of PVSA awards, including shipping. Certifying Organizations may not charge volunteers for the PVSA award and volunteers are not permitted to purchase awards.
- Receive and distribute the awards package to volunteers.
- Take the Certifying Organization e-course once every 12 months.
- Establish procedures to ensure compliance with PVSA eligibility and other program requirements.
- Conduct business both ethically and without deception. Certifying Organizations under criminal investigation, indictment or who have been convicted of a felony in any State or Federal court within the last two years are not eligible to apply or maintain the status of a certifying organization.
- Revoke a PVSA when information is presented that any awardee did not meet criteria for the Award. If the information reflecting ineligibility did not come from Points of Light or the Corporation for National and Community Service, inform both parties of any such contemplated revocation and the justification prior to initiating procedures.
- Maintain a data bank that provides the capability to retrieve all information upon which an award was based, by individual awardee's name and year of the award, and certify annually to Points of Light that such data bank is being maintained and is current. The Certifying Organization shall maintain, as part of the databank, a checklist for each awardee by name reflecting that each of the required criteria for an award as detailed under "Volunteer Eligibility Criteria" has been met.
- If there is a time lag longer than 3 months between approving and purchasing the award and the actual award date, the Certifying Organization must recertify that the individual remains eligible for the award and maintains such certification in the data bank.
Failure to complete or support any of the PVSA program requirements may result in revocation of the status of the Certifying Organization and the associated volunteer awards.
Steps to Become a Certifying Organization:
- Take the short e-course on the website. Once completed, you can continue to your application submission. Certifying Organizations are required to retake the e-course once every 12 months.
- Complete and submit the certifying organization application online.
- Once submitted, applications are reviewed and processed within 15 business days, unless additional information is required to process the application. You will receive an email notifying your organization of your status within 15 business days.
- United States citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e., green card holder)
- Must be at least five years old
- Completes eligible service within a 12-month period (for annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) and over a lifetime (for Lifetime Achievement Awards)
Unpaid acts of volunteer service benefitting others
- Service through National service programs that provide a stipend (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) may count towards the Lifetime Achievement Award*, but not for the annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards)
- Travel stipends, transit/parking passes, membership passes, expense reimbursements, and other nominal volunteer support do not impact service eligibility
Eligible Service does not include:
- Donating funds
- Political lobbying (Non-partisan voter registration is an eligible activity)
- Religious instruction
- Conducting worship service
- Volunteer service performed as part of court-ordered community service
- Serving only family members
Hours Required to Earn Awards in Each Age Group
||Lifetime Achievement Award*
|Kids (5–10 years old)
|Young Adults (16–25)
* The Lifetime Achievement Award is not available to be awarded at this time.
Next: Learn about Award Packages