President-elect Barack Obama understood the subtle difference between utilizing volunteers to achieve an objective, and embracing volunteers as the objective. He created free space for collaborative efforts. The interests of the volunteer, the campaign, and Mr Obama were able to find convergence. He was not a leader with a thousand helpers. He became the leader of a movement, embraced by millions.
This approach yields some interesting insights for the future of volunteerism. The following article is a must read by anyone working with volunteers, whether as part of a Corporate Volunteering strategy, a Non Profit, or faith community.
In a Successful Campaign: Lessons for Nonprofits
Written by Paul Schmitz
In such challenging times, nonprofits need to identify the most cutting edge organizational tools, technologies, and behaviors that engage constituents and achieve results. To that end, I would draw our attention to the campaign organization built by President-elect Barack Obama. Over the past 21 months, this once-improbable campaign generated a potent combination of branding, strategy, management, online and community organizing, and youth leadership that produced unprecedented citizen participation and impressive victories. In many ways, the campaign has exemplified the qualities promoted in recent years by management articles and books and symbolized the kind of organization whose culture of innovation, inclusion, and performance inspires and attracts workers, volunteers, donors, and champions.