Open question: How can we get more youth involved?

There are some common threads emerging in the topics Connectors are starting in their Team discussion forums. To see the Team discussions, visit any Team page.

Here’s an example: How can Connectors help to get more young people involved in creating positive change? We found two Connectors in two different countries tackling this one.


Wendy from Washington, DC


Nao from Toronto

How to encourage young ones to step up?

One idea is the Semester of Service Tool & Tactic for kids ages 5 to 9 years old  and kids ages 10 to 12. Connectors who are teachers or school administrators by can introduce students to service with this engaging co-curricular activity.

Connectors, what do you think? How can we help get more youth interested in contributing to the common good?


Meet a Connector: Elif in Istanbul, Turkey

Connector Elif Soykan has her feet in two worlds: Istanbul and Los Angeles.

She grew up in Turkey, where she studied sociology, but found herself drawn to Hollywood post-graduation where she worked at an advertising agency. Unfulfilled, she returned home after a few years.

Back in Turkey, Elif transferred her love of meeting new people from different cultures and backgrounds into a job as a cross-cultural consultant.

Elif hopes to use this training to its fullest in her new role as a Connector on both the Istanbul and Los Angeles Teams.

“As a cross-cultural trainer and a coach, I believe I can show people how powerful they are, how beautiful they are, and how much value they can bring to life to make it better,” she says.


Elif on her terrace in Istanbul
(photo courtesy Elif Soykan)

Elif naturally connects others in her social circles all the time, but admits that when it comes to herself, one of her weaknesses is asking for help.

With the Idealist Network, she’ll use this focus on others to her advantage and help Istanbul become better connected. There are a lot of nonprofits in the city, but bureaucracy, lack of consensus in organizations, and commitment on behalf of volunteers can be challenging.

Still, Elif is hopeful. Next week she’ll be meeting with another Connector in the city to talk about how they can best pool the city’s resources.

“Sharing is so valuable. I’m afraid that in this new era, we’re losing it,” she says. “This Network gives me hope to unite again for the ultimate goal: make the world a better place.”

Do you live in Istanbul or Los Angeles? Join Elif! Live elsewhere? Look for a Connector Team near you or start one of your own.

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Watch, wait, and iterate!

We love how you’re signing up to be Connectors, chatting away on the Hub, and meeting up to amplify all the good happening in your communities around the world.


So we want to step back for a minute and, first, thank you for being on this journey with us.

Second, we’d like to acknowledge that building a network like this takes time, and we appreciate you sticking with us as we work together to get the model right.

Connector Tessa Hawkins in Melbourne, Australia speaks to the value of being slow and steady:

So I’m a person who usually gets hyper-excited about things and when they don’t all take off at rocket speed I deflate like a balloon.

That will not happen this time!

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the small number of members that we have in the Melbourne team. But then realised that Idealist needs to grow steadily and consistently, and we as Connectors are responsible for that.

So to achieve this I say our first aim should be consistent growth and patience. That is, start growing those linked into the Network.

We agree, Tessa!

Thanks to all of you again for your patience. We truly couldn’t do this without you.

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Tales of Tools & Tactics: Incorporating service into conferences

Tools & Tactics are replicable templates Connectors can use to multiply and amplify action and collaboration in their communities. We find they also make for great stories about people all over the world who are promoting good in interesting ways. 

Conference organizers take note! Conferences are great for networking and learning, but they can also be prime opportunities to give back to local communities.

Below, Cheryl Hanback, who helped organize the day of service for the The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) Conference, shares her experience:


NTEN conference-goers give back.
(image courtesy NTEN)

Q: In all your years of helping to organize NTEN’s Nonprofit Tech Conference’s Day of Service, what’s something you’ve seen carry over from year to year?

A: Camaraderie between conference attendees that volunteered during the day of service—whether we worked in a soup kitchen or in small teams to help a nonprofit with a tech challenge they were facing. I wouldn’t have put a price on that, or guessed it would’ve happened. Conference attendees came back year after year and felt so bonded, because you’ve gone out and helped that day, and you did it together. People made real connections. You don’t just sit at a lunch table for five minutes before a speaker starts, or eat dinner next to someone. You make real, grounded relationships.

To learn more, read the Tool & Tactic here. Interested in becoming a Connector? Get started here!


Meet a Connector: Nick in Atlanta, Georgia

If there’s one thing Nick Reynolds learned from his time in Peace Corps Ukraine, it’s this: meeting in-person is always a good idea.

“In Ukraine, you only knew something was definitely going to happen when you had that face-to-face meeting. When you looked that other person in the eye and said, ‘This is how it’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do, right?’ And if they said ‘yes,’ you could count on it,” he says.

As the Community Manager for the Idealist Atlanta local page and a member of the Atlanta Connector Team, Nick has transferred that lesson to meeting in person with local organizations to see what they’re up to and share more about how Idealist can support their work.


The MLK grave site, near the King Center in Atlanta
(image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

His first step is always encouraging employees to create an Idealist profile if they haven’t done so already. And nine times out of ten, they’re likely to pop up on the site if he’s had the opportunity to shake their hand.

He also plants himself at a local cafe each Monday for anyone—organizations, Idealist community members, Connectors—to chat.

“I consider myself to be an involved person. If there’s an opportunity to serve and I can’t come up with a reason not to do it, I’m going to wind up doing it,” he says.

Nick hopes the Idealist Network will help make more in-person connections in Atlanta that will lead to greater resource-sharing among organizations and more people getting involved in the causes they believe in. Living in the birthplace of the civil rights movement, he’d be hard pressed not to.

“[Atlanta] is a beacon of activism,” he says. “You can’t drive through the city without passing something that reminds you that the potential for positive change is here if you just get involved and engaged.”

Do you live in the Atlanta area? Join Nick! Not in Atlanta? Look for a Connector Team near you.

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Field Report! Team meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge’s Team may be small, but they have a lot of passion.

The city’s three Connectors, who have backgrounds ranging from global health, information technology, restaurant management, cultural anthropology, and youth development, met last week at a local coffee house to see how they could increase opportunities for action.

“We were all just so happy to connect with others who felt the same as us,” says Connector Karim Johnson.


The State Capitol area in Baton Rouge
(photo courtesy Karim Johnson)

They started with the Three Questions (3Qs) Tool & Tactic, then talked about the skills and resources they each bring to the Team that can help their hometown. Though it covers a large geographical area, Baton Rouge doesn’t have a lot of nonprofits, social enterprises, or community groups.

“The Idealist Network is a highly-needed resource that can act as a catalyst to grow these types of groups so that communities can begin to shape their own change,” Karim says.

The Team’s next steps include defining the Connector role as they want to approach it, encouraging others to join the Network, and getting more people and organizations on Idealist.

They’re also in the early stages of developing their first public meeting and have committed to chatting in-person each week to keep the fire burning.

For Karim and others, the Network comes at an exciting moment in Baton Rouge’s history.

“There are so many young people and so much energy as the city is growing and rejuvenating,” Karim says. “It’s a good time to give people the tools to ensure it grows in a direction they envision.”

If you’re in Baton Rouge, join the Team! If you’re not, look for a Team—or start one—near you. And if you’re not a Connector yet, learn more and sign up here.

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Tales of Tools & Tactics: Paid time off to volunteer

Tools & Tactics are replicable templates Connectors can use to multiply and amplify action and collaboration in their communities. We find they also make for tales about people all over the world who are promoting good in interesting ways. 

Offering employees paid time off to volunteer can encourage them to serve in their communities, and is a great way for companies to give something back.

Below, Marc Vettori, Director of Human Resources at Dansko, an employee-owned footwear company founded in Pennsylvania in 1990, shares his experience with Dansko’s program:


Dansko employees get their feet wet with the community.
(image courtesy Dansko)

Q: In offering paid time off to volunteer to employees at Dansko, what’s something that surprised you?

A: Organizations often reach out and ask us for volunteers, because we’re known in the community for giving back. A couple of years ago, an animal rescue organization needed their cat room painted. I, personally, don’t like painting, and that it was the cat room, well… it didn’t sound to me like the most awesome room ever. But we do have a lot of animal lovers at Dansko, and four employees stepped up and generously painted the room. That was a total, and good, surprise.

A different kind of surprising thing has been that while our executive team supports our employee volunteer efforts, most staff really recognize the importance of giving back, too. We had two women from customer service who had a goal to max out on the amount of paid time off for volunteering [20 hours per year]. So a lot of our people want to give back. This isn’t just a top-down thing.

To learn more, read the Tool & Tactic here. Interested in becoming a Connector? Get started here!


Action Groups are coming soon

We talked about Action Groups with the Connectors who attended the NYC Team meeting on Saturday, April 5th, and found people were happy to hear that these Groups will give us the best of both worlds: you’ll be able to start an Action Group for your neighborhood, school or workplace, OR one for an issue you care about—like education, homelessness, or human rights. (In the latter case you’d still be acting as a neutral facilitator/moderator, but within the issue that moves you most.)


Yesterday morning I flew to our Portland office, which is where we do all of our web development. I hadn’t been here for three weeks, and when I walked in I felt wonderfully superfluous. Everyone was out getting lunch, but the walls were covered with charts and notes reflecting all the feedback we’ve received from all of you over the last four weeks, and it was clear that things are moving in the right direction.

Later in the afternoon we had a good meeting all about Action Groups. We’re itching to share them with you and see what you think!

More soon…

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Meet a Connector: Derek in Jérémie, Haiti

Derek Dell loves meeting new people. As an avid backpacker, encountering other travelers thrills him. As does deepening relationships and helping out when needed.

“Once you know someone, connecting becomes easier and more personal,” he says. “If I can help someone with a project, mission, or job, I’m always happy to write an email or make a phone call if I know someone else can contribute.”


Derek in Jérémie
(photo courtesy Derek Dell)

Derek is now settled in Jérémie, Haiti as the Director of Finance at the Haitian Health Foundation. In this context, being a neutral Connector just makes sense.

“When you’re working in a developing country, your mission is always similar to others,” he says. “No one takes sides.”

Jérémie is one of the poorer and more isolated cities in Haiti. Dubbed the “city of poets,” it sits on the lower peninsula of the country and is cut off from the national highway. There are some bigger nonprofits in the area, and a number of smaller ones, and sometimes they work together.

Derek hopes the Idealist Network can add to the existing partnerships, and create new ones. He’s also hoping to meet other like-minded people in the area. His next step? Recruit more members to be on the Team.

“Realists and dreamers are all welcome,” he says. “No ideas are too small or too large.”


If you’re a one person Team, how have you been finding other members? Let us know in the comments!

Do you live in Jérémie or nearby? Join Derek! No? Look for a Connector Team near you.


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Field report! Team meeting in New York City

This past Saturday, 30 Connectors from across New York City met at the Idealist office in midtown Manhattan. It was a chance for people to share their thoughts and questions about being a Connector and to talk about next steps.

Who was there? Backgrounds ranged from therapists and graduate students to mental health counselors, retired professionals, and even an office relocation specialist.

At the heart of the conversation was the importance of neutrality to the Connector role: it allows Connectors to have a greater impact because they can support more people taking action on more issues. How? By connecting them with just the right tool, resource, or contact to help them move forward.

Team meeting at the Idealist office

Team meeting at the Idealist office

People were excited to meet each other—so much so that the large group (there are 120 people on the NYC Team) agreed they’d rather stay together than subdivide into smaller Teams, at least for a while, so that they can all help support each other as everyone gets started.

Suggestions for next steps included drafting talking points for recruiting more Connectors, using the NYC Idealist office as a hub for Connectors to work on materials together, trying a Tool & Tactic, and completing their personal profiles so that everyone could see what skills and interests exist already in the Team.


Not a Connector yet? Get the details and sign up here! Want to start or join a Team in your area? Search the possibilities here.

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