VCW was modeled after the successful Volunteer Centers of Michigan. It was founded in 2006 under the direction of Sara Ballard, who moved from Michigan to work at Snohomish County’s United Way and then to manage the independent Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties. During the first four years, the association was funded solely by member dues and in-kind donations. Whatcom, Snohomish, Skagit, Clark, King, Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties have been consistent members since the beginning of the association.
In 2010, VCW partnered with 501Commons and the Washington State Commission for National Service to receive a 3-year Volunteer Generation Fund federal grant. With that grant, the association was able to distribute over $250,000 to member centers, to build capacity, train partner non-profits, and underwrite member staffs’ professional development. In addition, in 2012, VCW and 501Commons drafted the Washington Serves Plan, a strategic plan for increasing the numbers, value and impact of volunteers in Washington.
With a 4th year of grant coverage added in 2013, VCW was able to hire its first part-time staff person, and began work to organize training and other resources, youth engagement programs, systems for partnering with the military, and communications, including Facebook and the web-site. VCW is now in its 7th year of VGF funding.