Active Civil Society is the counterpart the our German column on organizations and people, who devote their life and power to the best of all.
What is your organization and how was it founded?
Who are the people behind it?
Idealist is a nonprofit organization with offices in New York City and Portland, Oregon, and we have a staff of about 25 people.
Last year we surveyed hundreds of our website users and asked them to identify a moment in their life when they wanted to take action, but didn’t. It could be any moment – maybe they saw evidence of abuse and didn’t speak up, maybe they wanted to buy dinner for the homeless person down the street but didn’t, anything, large or small. We asked them why they didn’t do it, expecting that they might say that a lack of resources (money, time) stood in their way. And some people did say that, of course, but by far the biggest obstacle people felt was actually fear. A huge majority said that if they had just had a „buddy“—a friend, a collaborator, a colleague—to help them think through the action and go for it, then the story might have been very different.
We re-launched our site in December 2010 in order to reflect these real world connections, and hopefully make more possible. For example, if I’m a volunteer with a nearby organization, I can connect to their profile on Idealist and serve as a sort of ambassador for new people who may be interested; stay informed about job, internship, or volunteer opportunities they post, or events they may be hosting; or sign up for email alerts about their latest activity.
We currently have almost 60,000 organizations registered on our site; 125,000 registered users; and more than 50,000 site visitors every day.
What are your goals or visions?
Our mission is to build a world where people don’t have regrets like this – a world where no opportunity for connection or collaboration is missed or wasted. Rather than zeroing in on one specific issue or cause (such as human rights, the environment, etc.) or one specific audience (students, retired people, nonprofit professionals), we provide an online networking space (www.idealist.org in English, plus www.idealistas.org in Spanish and www.idealiste.org in French) and various in-person events where we try to help people and organizations connect with one another to work on all kinds of issues, however they want to make a difference.