VolunteerMatch just received its 1,000th referral for the year. (VolunteerMatch the organization, I mean, not VolunteerMatch.org the Web site.)

That is, with the listings we ourselves posted to our own account at VolunteerMatch.org, we’ve inspired more than 1,000 individuals to want to get involved in various aspects of our work. This year alone.

But we’re VolunteerMatch! We’re the experts, right? Not necessarily. As a small nonprofit organization ourselves, we’re learning and growing with our program all the time. Just ask our volunteer program manager.

Granted, we’ve saved some money by not having to pay ourselves for some premium services (especially Community Leader and Multi-ZIP). But beyond that, the secret is that there hasn’t really been a secret at all. Just hard work, creativity, and diligent management.

If you’re like most of the volunteer organizations in our network, the big question isn’t what you could accomplish with 1,000 volunteers… the big question is how could you possibly manage them in an effective way.

How would your department need to be structured to support them? What kind of talents would you need to have on staff in order to support them? What kind of attitudes and approaches would need to be present in order to support them?

If you’re like most organizations, when it comes to your volunteer program, the number 1,000 might as well be a million. And to reach that number the changes that would need to happen might even leave the organization unrecognizable.

With 1,000 volunteers, your day-to-day work might involve more phone calls, Web updates, social networking and working with your staff — and less face-time with volunteers. The reports you produce for your boss or your board might be in a completely different format with line items that are different from what you report on today. And so on.

In fact, it’s safe to assume that just about everything you do in your work would be different if you were working with 1,000 volunteers.

But just for a minute imagine the possibilities. Then ask yourself: What can you do today, what small first step can you take, to start the process?

Let us know.

( Photo via Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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