Posts by Jake Chatt

Ikea Is Bringing Home To Refugees



When people think of Ikea they usually picture ready-to-assemble furniture and appliances that give your living space that modern, almost sterile look.

What they usually don’t picture is a global charitable foundation that has worked on huge projects with numerous nonprofits. The Ikea Foundation is actually a very well-established charitable organization whose main focus is giving children living in poverty and poor conditions the opportunity to create a better future for themselves.





The latest project that the Ikea Foundation is working on has sprouted out of their self-created social enterprise Better Shelter, which is on a mission to deliver 10,000 shelters (designed by Ikea, of course) to refugees in Iraq in partnership with the United Nations. We learned about this project when we came upon this Take Part article last week; which explains that each of these shelters comes equipped with solar panels, mosquito nets, lights, and ventilation. They also come with lockable doors and are said to last up to three years, which is a huge improvement from the current handful of months that the traditional shelters last.





With these shelters, Ikea will be improving the quality of life for a good chunk of the more than two million refugees who are currently living in Iraq. Big ideas like this one show how Ikea is truly a leader in the movement where corporations are using their resources and power for social good. Once other corporations start to recognize how projects like this one are benefitting both Ikea, itself, and the world around it they too will hopefully begin to take on similar social good projects. When you think about it, why wouldn’t a ready-to-assemble furniture company help create ready-to-assemble shelters for people in need? Why can’t a major beverage company help provide water to those who have little to no access to clean water?


Here at Idealist we’re on a mission to build a world where everyone is able to live free and dignified lives. We believe this is accomplished through connecting people with other people and resources so that individuals are able to turn their good intentions into successful actions. Organizations and corporations, which already have huge networks of people and a myriad of resources, are a vital part in this plan. If every organization that has extra resources or people with appropriate skills for a task already rounded up gave just a little by donating those resources or utilizing those people’s combined skills we would be that much closer to living in this free and dignified world.

What’s a corporation that gives back or engages in projects of social good that you absolutely love? Let us know!

#MicroDay – Every Second Counts

The biggest reason we see people come up with for why they don’t volunteer is that they simply don’t have enough time to put aside and do so.

Well, today marks the second annual Microvolunteering Day, which is a day meant to encourage people to get out and engage in volunteer opportunities that are both quick and easy but still beneficial towards the cause! It’s understandable to be busy, most people are these days, but whether you have a free Saturday for service or five seconds to spare there are numerous ways for you to help different causes in this day and age. So, here are five different microvolunteering opportunities you could participate in.


1. Volunteer For A Day

The truth of the matter is that even the busiest of us often have a Saturday or Sunday off once in a while that we could totally use to sign up for a day-long volunteer opportunity. These opportunities tend to revolve around events or projects and are often in fun, team-like environments!

NBC via Giphy
2. Help For A Few Hours

If you don’t have a full day to dedicate then maybe you want to volunteer to help out for a few hours on a smaller project such as a clean up or volunteer for one shift in a multiple shift event. Never be afraid to ask if there is anything that you can do to help even if you can’t be there for a whole day!

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3. Complete A Task

Maybe you don’t even have a continuous few hours to volunteer but you find yourself with a few minutes here and there that you could use for small things like writing an article or taking a survey. Organizations often need participants to help them with simple tasks such as these and they can’t accomplish their overall goals without them, so never think there’s such a thing as not enough time to help!

Youtube via Giphy
4. Spread Awareness

Of course there are those of you who don’t even have five minutes to volunteer because the truth is that there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to accomplish everything you need to as is. If this is the case then consider becoming an advocate for a cause in that you integrate spreading awareness into your current lifestyle. You could simply talk about the issue on social media through your mobile device or make it so that your life is a living ad for the cause!

MTV via Giphy
5. Donate

The final and easiest way for you to volunteer (your resources, at least) is to donate to a cause that needs it and that you feel strongly about. If you feel like you simply don’t have the time to volunteer yourself what-so-ever then maybe you want to consider a resource that you have. This can be money or any other item that may be of use to an organization!

Via Giphy

At Idealist, we find volunteering to be a vital part of creating a world where everyone is able to live free and dignified lives. Since it’s #NationalVolunteerWeek we are highlighting the different aspects that we see people deal with when deciding to volunteer. We understand that one of those aspects is finding time to be able to volunteer, and that often people can’t find that time at all. So, with these microvolunteering ideas that even the busiest of us can participate in head on over to the action opportunities page and find an ask that fits YOUR schedule!


Matching Your Volunteering Style To Your Zodiac Sign


A common obstacle that we find many people run into when they first decide to volunteer is that they have no clue where they should even start.


When you think about it, who can blame them? First you have to figure out what cause to volunteer for, which can seem near impossible most of the time (How on EARTH are you suppose to dedicate yourself to just ONE cause?!). Next you have to decide where and when you want to volunteer (Who has time for anything with how busy we are these days?). Finally, you need to figure out how you can best be utilized given your specific skill set (Does anyone ever actually know where they fit best?).

So, there I was with all of these questions, trying to figure out how to best guide people in answering them on their own, and I found myself getting lost in the endless possibilities that were before me. That’s when I came upon this gem, The Llewellyn Journal article “Using Astrology To Determine Your Volunteering Style”. Thus, if you’re anything like me and you can’t fathom answering all of these questions properly on your own then why not let the cosmos do so for you?

Below are descriptions of the best types of volunteer opportunities for each of the zodiac signs according to The Llewellyn Journal.



Being the first sign of the zodiac, you are a born initiator and should partake in the launch of an initiative or project. You are best fitted for rescue work, crisis intervention, coaching roles, or being a presenter.

Via Giphy

As an earth sign, you flourish in hands-on, active positions such a constructing something. You are talented in the arts and very patient, which makes you a great fit for working with the youth or elderly.

Paramount via Giphy

Your versatility makes you a strong volunteer, but finding one cause to commit yourself to may be difficult. You thrive in situations that allow you to be social  and you have a knack for literature.

Nickelodeon via Giphy

You’re best suited for a position that allows you to be caring and nurturing, such as a nursing home or homeless shelter. Many Cancers love being in the kitchen, so if you are one of those then you may want to consider a soup kitchen or something similar.

Via Giphy

Being naturally people-oriented, you make a great fit for a leadership role. You may want to consider overseeing the organization of an event, coaching a team, or something similar that puts you at the front of the line.

Marvel via Giphy

You are the most service-oriented sign of them all and do best in situations where you get tangible results. Any hands-on opportunity is one for you, but you especially enjoy causes that are trying to conserve the environment or well-being of animals.

Via Giphy

People tend to warm up to and trust you much easier than the other signs which makes you a great candidate for any position dealing with calming influence or attentive listening. You may want to try a help hotline or some type of mediation if you are trained in the field.

Cartoon Network via Giphy

Your strength makes you the best sign for volunteer work in crisis prevention and care. You are warm and understanding much like the Libras of the world, but you also have a confidence that allows you to be more hands-on. Hospice, substance abuse centers, and domestic violence shelters are all great fits for you.

Nickelodeon via Giphy

You work best in a position that allows you freedom but is extremely active, such as caring for people or animals on your own. You tend to be very interested in diversity and cultural differences from around the world, so an ethnic center would be a great fit as well.

Paramount via Giphy

You are known for your work ethic and resourcefulness, which makes you a valuable asset in the volunteer world. You do well in positions that allow you to teach others to help themselves in the long-run.

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You flourish in positions that allow you to share your vision and sense of community. You tend to be extremely committed to the cause and you make a great team player all around.

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Your empathy and generosity makes you a great volunteer for causes dealing with animals and communities. It’s important to note that your empathy also makes you sensitive and therefore you should set boundaries for yourself as to not get in too deep.

Warner Bros via Giphy


At Idealist, we find volunteering to be a vital part of creating a world where everyone is able to live free and dignified lives. Since it is #NationalVolunteerWeek we are highlighting many different aspects that we see people deal with when deciding to volunteer. So, whether you’re a Virgo, an Aquarius or any other sign head over to the volunteer search and find the perfect opportunity for you!

Handmade To The Streets

HTTS Website

You know those brisk fall nights when you’re camping in the woods with family or friends, and you burrow into your sleeping bag but just can’t seem to get warm enough no matter what you do?


Could you imagine feeling that way every single night?


Ashleyann Burnett had this very thought one day when she noticed a man on MLK Boulevard in Portland, Oregon sheltering himself with only a sheet. After witnessing him attempting to make himself comfortable over and over she knew she needed to help him. This small epiphany quickly spawned a much larger idea when Ashleyann realized that there are hundreds of thousands of people in this same situation all across the United States. Thus, Handmade To The Streets was born, and Ashleyann along with her husband, Tyler, set out to provide versatile, handmade blankets to as many people experiencing homelessness as possible.

HTTP Website

Handmade To The Streets’ blankets are made to be warm, compact, and durable to be as best fitted to the lifestyle of someone living on the streets as possible. Each blanket is wrapped in a strap with a handle so that they can be slung around one’s shoulder and easily carried.

Currently, Handmade To The Streets is a small, two-person operation with Ashleyann and Tyler doing as much as they can on their own. So far, they have been passing out blankets as well as ‘street kits’ filled with essential items that individuals living on the streets could gravely use around Portland. But Ashleyann and Tyler wonder why stop here?

Their goals, as stated on their Kickstarter page, include becoming a 501c3 nonprofit, applying for a design patent, and increasing their materials for larger production.

Ashleyann noticed something wrong with the world when she saw that man struggling simply to keep himself warm. More importantly though, she saw an opportunity where she could utilize her skills and resources to truly make a positive difference in other people’s lives. Now she sees that with the help of others’ skills and resources as well she can magnify her effort tenfold.

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 At Idealist we believe that ensuring great ideas like this one reach the people needed to bring them into full bloom is vital in creating positive change in the world. Too often good ideas with the ability to change the world never see the light of day due to lack of skills or resources needed to make them sustainable. We’re on a mission to make sure that great ideas like this one are able to reach people who not only have the means to help but the desire to do so as well. 

What’s a great idea that you’ve been wondering how to go about bringing to life? Share in the comments!

An Argument for Doing Something More



“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.”


So said Chuang Tzu, preeminent Taoist thinker, some 25 hundred years ago. Nonetheless, there is a whole industry catering to people who approach happiness as something to be hunted down in self-help books, courses, new age practices, and life coaches.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, many of us feel that our happiness is constantly bombarded with negative messages: angsty status updates from friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, awful news headlines, and advertising that plays on our worst insecurities. Our response: switch off, log-out, and block.

Universal via

How often do you read a bad-news article and feel powerless to help, disengaged from your community or from the larger world, or too overwhelmed by personal responsibilities to actively respond by volunteering, donating, or carrying on the conversation? Although in the short term, it might bode well to close the newspaper and focus on something you readily feel you can do — your job, your domestic tasks — it could be argued that shutting out larger world problems is actually a way of retreating further away from fulfilling your true potential as a person. via

Self-actualization is a term that has been manipulated and used in multiple psychological theories throughout time but was originally created by organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein. The idea is that by realizing your full potential you can reach some sort of enlightenment that allows you to actively live the best life possible for yourself. For the sake of this discussion though, let’s specifically reference the 19 Characteristics Of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer.

What Maslow’s theory entails are 19 unique characteristics he found to be consistent within each of his subjects that have been developed into advice on how one self-actualizes. The foundation of Maslow’s theory is that you not only must understand what is preventing your happiness but you need to face, and resolve, those issues as well. This notion suggests that by avoiding, or retreating, from the issues hindering your happiness you are merely prolonging the process. So, let’s go through each of the characteristics.

  1.     Perception Of Reality

The first trait is that of a superior relationship with reality. This means he or she understands that the unknown is a part of reality and not only is he or she comfortable with that but he or she embraces it with open arms.

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  1.     Acceptance

The next is the idea that he or she simply accepts himself or herself unconditionally. So much so that the whole idea doesn’t even cross his or her mind.

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  1.     Spontaneity

The third coincides with the first in that a self-actualized individual’s behavior is natural and it is not dictated by a forced agenda. In other words, he or she does not take actions simply for the reason of being a plot device that is meant to cause a specific reaction.

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  1.     Problem Centering

Self-actualizers tend to have goals and a mission in life. They have small things they would like to accomplish in the short-term and large overarching things they would like to accomplish in the long run.


  1.     Solitude

Self-actualizers also tend to value their privacy and time alone slightly more than the average individual.

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  1.     Autonomy

The sixth trait is that of independence from the need for external accolades or praise. A self-actualizer has realized that inner growth and self-development are much more pertinent to life then these things.

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  1.     Fresh Appreciation

Self-actualizing people are able to maintain the appreciation of a child experiencing something new even for the most basic experiences in life. They never allow themselves to feel like they are simply going through the motions.

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  1.     Peak Experiences

This is the groove that you get into when you are in your element and your focus has never been better. Self-actualizers allow themselves to reach this state more often than most.

Nickelodeon via

  1.     Human Kinship

The ninth trait is the characteristic of universal empathy. Self-actualizers feel as though everyone is family and they have a human connection with every individual they encounter.

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  1.  Humility and Respect

Self-actualizing people tend to be as humble as they come. They are able to befriend all types of people and could be described as unable to see the superficial differences that are often so important to the average person.

New Line Cinema via

  1.  Interpersonal Relationships

Though they have a connection with mostly everyone, self-actualizers often have small circles of close loved ones. The love they feel for these few is profound and unwavering.

Warner Bros. via

  1.  Ethics

Plain and simple, self-actualizing people have very distinct beliefs on right and wrong and they religiously do what they believe is right.

Warner Bros. via

  1.  Means and Ends

Self-actualizers are true believers in the saying “a means to an end.” They are fixated on ends and not preoccupied with the means.

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  1.  Humor

They are not amused by hostile, superiority, or authority-rebellion humor and don’t usually consider what the average individual finds to be funny to be funny.


  1.  Creativity

Maslow simply states that this is a universal trait throughout all people who were studied. But basically, self-actualized people find an outlet where they can successfully exercise their creativity.


  1.  Resistance Of Enculturation

Self-actualizers naturally resist enculturation and maintain a distance from the culture they are immersed in. Due to their non-bias nature in all facets of life it makes it difficult for them to be consumed by such a subjective matter.

Focus Features via

  1.  Imperfections

It is important to note that self-actualizers are not perfect. They have negative and mundane characteristics just like everyone else, but they are aware of them and use that knowledge to their advantage.


  1.  Values

Self-actualized people have a strong set of values that they keep close to their heart. These beliefs tend to indoctrinate their lives so that everything they do fits within them.

Paramount via

  1.  Resolution of Dichotomies

The final trait is the idea that the line between selfishness and selflessness disappears because in reality every act is both selfish and selfless.

Now, before you freak out and start to worry about having all of these traits yourself, remember that this was one man’s conclusion from one study. It’s difficult to say that all self-actualized people have all 19 of these traits all of the  time. After all, doesn’t trait number six claim that a self-actualizer wouldn’t be bothered by Maslow’s classification anyway?

The point is that all of these traits have one theme in common: they are all choices that can be made. You can choose whether or not to be terrified by the unknown, whether you want to be limited by society’s standards, limited to your daily responsibilities, or whether you want to take a little leap of faith and start doing something more. Instead of striving for immediate happiness, we might reframe our feelings of discontent in the face of terrifying new headlines and remember that we are part of it, we are connected, and there is someone, somewhere who we could lend a hand to in some small, manageable way.

At Idealist we believe that happiness and doing something more are intrinsically linked. Once you know what you feel would make the future a little better for the world, following through, reaching out to people, nonprofits, and community groups and offering a little time or expertise or money is a tangible step towards achieving self-actualization. We’re on a mission to make sure that fewer opportunities to self-actualize and live happier, healthier lives pass people by.


Idealist is currently one of the world’s preeminent organizations for connecting more than 100,000 nonprofits worldwide and more than a million people each month who can imagine a better future. Visit us at to find out more.


Which Area Of Focus Are You Passionate About?

Which area of focus did you get? Did you enjoy this quiz? Let us know in the comments!

World’s First Communal Living Room

(From Connectors Malmö’s website)

Would you and your community benefit from a crowd sourced living room?


The Pop Up Space is literally just an empty room in the city of Malmö, Sweden where residents of the local communities are able to drop in and vote for what they’d like to see the room become. At the end of the week the votes are counted and one new feature is added to the room.


So, as it states on “Today, the room might be an empty room. But next week it might be filled with hundreds of pillows and a pizza oven.”


We caught wind of this story from Connectors Malmö’s Co-Director Julieta Talavera, who was a dedicated participant of Idealist’s Connector Initiative last year. Julieta became inspired by the idea of connecting social innovators so that they are able to collaborate and assist each other in bringing change. This inspiration, along with her own intention of bettering the world, sparked something in her that made her leap into action.

According to their site “Connectors Malmö is a community of people from here and there, doing this and that to make our city a better place.”


The Pop Up Space is part one of Connectors Malmö’s first featured project which they hope will lead to a prosperous career of positive change for their community and eventually the world.

Julieta explains “The neighborhood in which we are launching this space has significant social problems including unemployment, low integration and low community morale.”


The team over at Connectors Malmö says that the purpose of this experiment is to create a community-sourced hub that not only allows the diverse local community to work together in its creation but that will also act as a forum for people to think creatively with one another. They hope that once everything gets running this can be a comfortable place for locals to meet with each other, as well as social entrepreneurs from all around the world, to come up with unique solutions for local challenges.

(From Connectors Malmö’s website)


This is where Connectors Malmö’s second phase comes to play. If everything goes according to plan, Connectors Malmö plans to launch the Residency, or The Live-In Lab, at the end of the Swedish summer this year. The Residency will be a place where six to nine chosen individuals (the Residents) will live and work together. These individuals will be social entrepreneurs who are looking to use their skills in a way to help better both the local community and the world. The Pop Up Space is the common area where these individuals can collaborate both with each other and with the local community. This is why Connectors Malmö has rightfully dubbed it ‘The World’s First Crowd Sourced Living Room’.


This initiative is currently in what the team is calling ‘the pilot period’ and will be until mid-April. During this period, they have a number of backers who are willing to help them test the waters before going forward full-throttle with all of their plans.


Julieta and the team have thrust their vision into action with the launch of The Pop Up Space.  If this initiative gains traction, and the idea of communal living rooms begins to spread across the globe, participating communities would be building their own unique proverbial ant hills, where everyone puts their skills and resources together to construct a mutually beneficial utopia.

What’s an idea that you have that you would share in your community’s communal living room? Let us know in the comments!

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