Firstly, a large number of sites are springing up monitoring individual servers' progressions towards their total. There are also efforts to monitor every server thanks to a UI addon, so help your server become the first to open the gates! (Note, the list is probably slightly out of date because it only updates via people with the addon.)
Some servers with especially imbalanced Alliance:Horde ratios have started donating goods to the Horde side, allowing trusted Horde and Alliance guilds to work together towards the common goal--however, as it's the "war effort", needless to say this isn't on any RP servers!
I logged in my mid-forties Night Elf last night and decided to contribute to the war effort as much as I could. Several hours later I had stacks of raptor flesh, Stranglekelp, Rainbow Fin Albacore, and Silk Bandages to hand in--the green items I received weren't particularly good (especially as some of the items I handed in were fairly low-level) but useful for disenchanting nonetheless. I've now sworn to get my tradeskills higher so I can continue to contribute.
Thottbot has proved invaluable in finding out where to look for various items while still gaining XP--I managed to level while farming raptors in STV, which was nice! However, a fishing skill-up bug means that fishing levels are extremely slow to gain at the moment.
I don't think the "grinding" style of play is particularly interesting, or suits me very well, but it's nice to have some ultimate reward, even if the xp and item gains from the War Effort quests are fairly low.
The item collectors are in the Military Ward in Ironforge and the Valley of Spirits in Orgrimmar: get collecting and do your server proud!
[Update: There's now an official server comparison table, if you want to know how well Blizzard thinks your server is doing! Thanks, Brian]