Ivan Henry Scheier

Headshot of Ivan H. Scheier
1926 - 2008

Ivan H. Scheier, Ph.D., began forging a path in Volunteer Management in the 1960s and was constantly looking toward the future. After working as a court psychologist in the juvenile probation department of Boulder County, Colorado, Scheier entered the nonprofit sector by coordinating volunteers in juvenile court system programs. In 1967, he helped found The National Information Center on Volunteers in Courts in 1967, which later changed its name to the National Information Center on Volunteerism. After multiple name changes and mergers, the original organization was known as The National Volunteer Center before merging with the Points of Light Foundation in 1991.

In 1972, Ivan Scheier and Marlene Wilson founded the Volunteer Program at Colorado University in Boulder. The program trained several thousands of Volunteer Directors throughout its 25 years of existence, with Wilson serving as the spark and faculty director while Scheier provided training.

Scheier became widely known for his professional consulting with volunteer programs and citizen participation efforts in the U.S. and Canada. He served on commissions for the White House Conference on Children and Youth, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals and the National Forum on Volunteerism. He conducted hundreds of workshops, and wrote or published over 100 pamphlets and articles. He was an inspirational trainer, known especially for his “Challenge Think Tanks” – retreats for advanced Volunteer Managers that were held sporadically around North America.  He trained or consulted on every continent.

He opened and directed Voluntas: The Center for Creative Community, a retreat residence to nurture volunteerism in Madrid, New Mexico. After Voluntas closed in 1996, Scheier worked at STILLPOINTS health retreat center.   

Scheier is also regarded as the "grandfather" of organizations known as DOVIAs (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies”), "DOV's Associations," "Councils," or "Clusters." These informal peer groups quickly developed at the local or regional level to provide a place for leaders of Volunteer Engagement to network with each other and enhance the profession of Volunteer Management. Scheier supported these groups through his “DOVIA Exchange” writings, and many of them still exist today.

In 2000, Scheier introduced us to the role of the "Dream-Catcher." His book, Making Dreams Come True without Money, Might or Miracles: A Guide for Dream-Chasers and Dream-Catchers, explored how Volunteer Managers could cultivate volunteers to achieve their fullest potential. "My Dream-Catcher is a person, not a device," wrote Scheier. "He or she takes up the task of helping people achieve their dreams, where 'dream' means a goal, a purpose, a cause or a vision (more in the purposive than the mystic sense)." 

Before his death, Scheier donated his writings to Regis University where they were digitized and compiled into “The New Volunteerism Project: the Archival Collection of Ivan Henry Scheier.”  When the Susan J. Ellis Archive was created in 2021, Regis University granted permission for Scheier's Achival Collection to be added to the Ellis Archive, where it is now widely accessible. 

Regis University is also home to the Voluntas Time Capsule on Volunteerism. The capsule project began in 1990, with Scheier as the principle organizer. It was sealed on September 20, 2001, stored in Regis University's Dayton Memorial Library, and scheduled to be opened on Thanksgiving Day 2050. Wrote Scheier, "I will be 124 years old at that time and no doubt slowing down a bit (actually, probably completely). But as a long-dead busybody, let me make a few suggestions for 2005-2050. . .”

Those who knew Ivan H. Scheier remember him as a cutting-edge thinker, a visionary and a humble, poetic soul who lived simply and cared deeply about the future of volunteering.

(Bio Sources:  Regis University Collection of Ivan Scheier’s Writing, the Nonprofit Times article at the time of his death, and Susan’s “In Memorium” article in E-volunteerism)

Resources in Archive

What Others Say

"He was completely devoted to the concept of volunteering. I always felt as though he was 10 years ahead of everyone else!"
- Susan J. Ellis