Representing your org on Idealist? Help us help you!

UPDATE, Tuesday 3.22. Thank you all so much! We have enough people for this particular study and are closing the survey. You can sign up for regular usability testing here (we’ll love you for it!):

Do you use social networking sites to promote your organization? If so, we have questions for you.

Sign up to participate in a quick online focus group!

It takes no more than two hours over the course of two weeks, and doesn’t require you to leave your home, office, or home office. You’ll help us to understand how we can make the site a better place for organizations like yours.

More Details


Photo by bgottsab (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Who: You represent your organization online – whether your role involves HR, social media, outreach/communications, or programs.

What: Over the course of two weeks, we’ll send two short emails explaining some of the new features on the site, along with specific questions to get you thinking about the usefulness of those features.  You’ll update your organization’s page on Idealist, and we’ll ask that you respond with your feedback within about a week.

When: At most, two hours of your time over the next two weeks.

Where: The comfort of your own computer!

Why: The re-launch brought a more social, robust organization page. With your help, we’ll keep improving the features there, making it even easier for you to recruit the right candidates, find new champions for your causes, and keep up with other organizations’ progress.

Bonus: By taking an hour or so to get familiar with the new site, you can make sure that your org page reflects the work you’re doing, and use this time to post information about any upcoming programs, events, or volunteer opportunities you may have.

Interested? Click here to sign up!

Cross-posted from the Development Blog.

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How to format your organization's page

Last week, we talked about how keywords help make your organization page more searchable. This week, we’re covering some easy ways to make your organization page both eye-catching and informative.

First up: your description!

Job seekers, volunteers, and others interested in your organization rely on the information you provide to determine whether they would like to interact further with you. If your organization raises money for AIDS research, tell us how you fundraise. If your organization hosts karaoke nights to keep urban youth from getting into trouble, say so! This is what makes your organization tick, and we want to know about it.

To edit your organization’s profile, log into your account. Navigate to your organization’s page. Click Edit. Scroll down to the Organization Description area. If you’ve created or edited a listing recently, you know that we no longer fully support HTML on our website. Instead, we are using a simplified formatting language called Creole. As you type, your changes will show up in the preview box to the right, so you’ll be able to see how your formatting will look on the site.

Once you’re finished editing your description, you’ll be ready for the next step in our makeover: your logo!

First of all, make sure to use a JPEG image, smaller than 300kb in size. Next, make sure you use a square logo. As you may have seen, rectangular logos don’t fare so well on our site. Let’s take a look:

Once uploaded, this might look like:

Not so pretty. Here’s our secret for faking a square logo: copy your rectangular/circle/funny-shaped logo onto a square background first, save it as a new file, and then upload the whole thing to your profile. (The outline in black below is just for viewing purposes on the blog – don’t worry about it when you’re fixing your actual logo.)

You’ll see the difference once you upload your newly edited logo:

Finally: housekeeping.
It’s tedious, I know, but worth it to proofread. Make sure your organization’s name is spelled out completely and correctly. Use correct capitalization and full sentences in your description. Double check that your website is listed correctly. All of the little things will add up to one gorgeous profile!

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How to make your organization's page more searchable

Do you maintain your organization’s page on Idealist? Here are some tips to make sure that it’s being found by the right people.

What is a keyword?

If I asked you to search the site for an organization that holds bake sales to raise money for abandoned pets, how would you do it? You’d probably enter terms like “bake sale,” “fundraising” and “homeless pets” into a search engine. These terms are keywords, simple description words related to a given topic or organization.

When you register your organization with Idealist, you’ll be asked to select at least one area of focus from our menu, and you’ll be given the option to assign keywords to describe your work. If your organization is a hospital, you might select keywords like “doctors,” “medical,” “patients,” and “health care.” Your organization page will then be tagged with these keywords. The next time an individual’s search criteria matches one of your keywords, your organization will be listed among the search results.

Why this is important:

The simple answer is that the more keywords you include, the more likely your organization will appear in search results. The complicated answer is…well…more complicated than that.

The keywords that you select for your organization page will also appear on any listings you post on behalf of your organization. Using our example above, if Bake Sales for Shelters* posts an ad for an accountant, then anyone interested in animal rights will spot those opportunities, whether they search for terms related to the job (accounting) or to the organization’s greater purpose (fundraising, pets, bake sales).

How to add keywords: Log into your account. Navigate to your organization’s page. Click Edit. Scroll down until you see the Area of Focus section. Directly below that, you’ll be able to add additional keywords.

New organizations, you’ll want to click on Add Your Org. You’ll be taken to the same form to fill out.

Hit enter after every keyword. Each term will be listed as a tag. To remove a tag, click on the white X in the surrounding grey box.

As you’re typing, our system may suggest terms for you:

If you’d like to select one of these, point your cursor to the appropriate term and click on it. If not, just ignore the suggestions and hit enter. You might see a message like the one below. Don’t fret! As long as you select multiple keywords, you’ll be fine!

When you’re all set, just click on the green Save button at the bottom of the page.

Here’s how your keywords will look:


In this case, you’ll see “animals” listed twice.  This is because I chose “Animals” in the Area of Focus drop down, and then entered it manually as a keyword. You can always go back and edit this if you’d like.

Finally, you’ll also see these same keywords appear in your job listings:

And there you have it: the wonderful world of keywords. Love them, use them, and make your listings more searchable!

*Not a real organization to my knowledge, but one that I would happily support.

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Testing, testing: Help make Idealist more usable

Want to help make Idealist better? We’d love for you to participate in our usability testing program!

What’s this all about?

There are lots of ways that we collect feedback from our users. One important one is to observe Idealist members “in the wild,” so to speak. Instead of asking your (undoubtedly valuable) opinion, we want to actually watch you use the site, and see what aspects of the site could be improved.

Sign up to participate here. We’ll be conducting in-person usability tests for those in the NYC area, and remote tests for people everywhere else (as long as you have access to a broadband internet connection and a telephone or computer microphone).


Photo via Alishba Zarmeen

What to expect

Whether you participate remotely or come visit us, you’ll sit down one-on-one with me (Hi! Nice to meet you.), so I can observe while you use basic features of the website and ask a few questions about your experience. Usability testing is the kind of test where you can’t get a wrong answer, so there’s no pressure on you, just the website.  The most challenging part for you? Probably remembering to think aloud as you use the site.

Who we’re looking for

Everyone! Seriously, whether you have very little experience using the web or are as tech savvy as they come, you’re welcome to participate. Also, we’ll be testing features for individuals and organizations, so we’re looking for people who use the site in different ways: you could be a job seeker, a potential volunteer, an HR professional, volunteer manager, or your organization’s social media expert, or really anyone else.

What’s next?

  • We conduct usability testing on an ongoing basis, so if you’re interested, sign up! We’ll ask you a few questions to get a sense of how you use the site, and then I’ll be in touch when it seems like you’re a good fit for an upcoming usability test.
  • Can’t participate in usability testing? You can still make your voice heard publicly on Get Satisfaction or by sending an email directly to our Community Support Team through the contact page.

Thank you!

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Our 10 favorite things about the new Idealist

Our re-launch brings with it tons of improvements. Here are some staff favorites:


Join us: fill out your profile and connect with your community!

1. Enriched User Profile & Connections. Idealist has always been a community of people who want to make a better world. Now we are giving you more space to share who you are and what keeps you up at night, so that you can connect with people like you. 

2. Everyone Can Post! Until now, only organizations could post listings, but we know that individuals can have a powerful impact too. Sometimes the beginnings of an idea or a loose collective of people working together are the ones most in need of resources and visibility.  Now everyone can post listings: recruit volunteers, post a description of a program you run, or invite people to an event.

3. Improved Search. Finding the right opportunity in the right place that fits with your interests, skills, and availability is never easy. Now you can refine the search results right on the same page with keywords and filters (like a job’s salary range or a volunteer opportunity’s time commitment).

Refine the search results in the right column using the filters on the left.

4. Bookmarks. One of our most commonly requested features was a way to save your favorite listings. Now, you can bookmark the jobs you’ve applied to, the organization pages that interest you, or events you’re interested in attending. Wherever you are on the site, you’ll have one click access to all your bookmarked listings.

5. Save Your Searches. When you’re searching for jobs or volunteer opportunities, you often run the same search again and again. Save time with easy access to your frequently used searches, and get them emailed to you as alerts if you want.

Name your searches for easy reference!

6. Sharing & Recommending. When you see something you like on Idealist, you can share it with all your connections or privately recommend it to a specific person.

Idealist, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace...

7. Info Centers. We’ve consolidated and edited our resource centers to bring you the most pertinent and up-to-date information about all the topics that can help you move from intention to action. Check out our new and improved resources for volunteering, nonprofit careers, and nonprofit organizations.

Find links to these at the bottom of every page.

8. Org-to-org Connections. We’re often asked, “How do I know if an organization is legitimate?” Now you can make more informed decisions about your involvement. In addition to seeing individuals connected to an organization, you can also see its relationships to other organizations, including funders, local partners, and affiliates.

9. Baking from Scratch. Idealist was originally built in 1995. When it comes to coding and improving a website, there are tools and tricks available now that we simply couldn’t take advantage of on our 15-year-old platform. So we started fresh, and we’ll be able to adapt more quickly from here on out.

10. Design. We cleaned it all up, aiming to make the user experience more intuitive and consistent, and more accessible to users with disabilities.

Have fun exploring, and if you have questions or ideas, please let us know.


Today's Random Picks: From Photography in Ghana to Hip Hop in Massachusetts

From Flickr user Chris Willis (Creative Commons)

Every day, hundreds of new listings are added to our site, and it’s always amazing to see the variety of organizations, opportunities, and events that Idealist users can connect with. Let’s see what you (and we!) might be missing! I’ve decided to pick a few random listings each week and spotlight them here.

Today’s area of focus: Art, Architecture, Music

Organization: Baryshnikov Arts Center
Location: New York, New York, United States
In their own words: “BAC serves as a creative laboratory, meeting place, and performance space for a vibrant community of artists from around the world.”

Job: Hip Hop Instructor
Organization: United Teen Equality Center
In their own words: “UTEC reaches out to these young people through intensive street outreach, builds upon their unique strengths within a youth development framework, and creates opportunities to best support them in becoming agents of social change and organizers in the community.“

Volunteer Opportunity: Thai Village Handicraft Art Project
Organization: Mundo Exchange Organization
In their own words: “We team with local communities to provide global volunteers and financial aide to impoverished and rural community projects. We believe that cross-cultural participation and an equal exchange of ideas can help bring global understanding to those involved.”

Internship: Photographer – Ghana, West Africa
Organization: Women in Progress
In their own words: “Women in Progress works to achieve economic independence of women and alleviate poverty at a grassroots level in Ghana through the sustainable growth of small women-owned businesses.”

Event: Logan Heights Neighborhood Clean-Up!
Organization: BAME Renaissance Inc. (San Diego, CA)
Date: September 25, 2010
In their own words: “ BAME is a catalyst to promote and provide an opportunity for all sectors of the community to work collaboratively toward the goal of strengthening individuals, families, and neighborhoods through social and economic development.”

Search hundreds of other listings filed under Art, Architecture, and Music, or post an opportunity of your own.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Sneak Peek of the New!

Here at Idealist we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to bring you a brand new version of the website. We’re not officially relaunching for another couple of weeks, but we just couldn’t wait to let you take a look!

Check out this sneak preview of the new version of You’ll get to see three new page designs:

  • the enriched personal profile
  • our new and more powerful search
  • the more dynamic organization page

Idealist has always been a community of people who want to make a better world. By making improvements to the website’s design and usability, and adding social features that make it easier for this community to connect with each other, we get even closer to achieving our mission of connecting people, organizations, and resources and helping people turn their good intentions into action — online and offline.

To see even more of what’s to come, visit our development blog, and leave us comments about the new look!

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]


Real World Idealists: What's Your Story?

From Flickr user kodomut, a library volunteer

Yesterday I received a newsletter from Google and learned about a fun project called Your Google Stories:

Earlier this month we shared a handful of stories from people who have used Google in interesting ways that helped them solve a problem large or small. Their stories range from the mundane—finding the manufacturer of a frying pan, or the composer of a song—to the sublime: finding a long-lost love, welcoming a brand-new family member into the world.

This series reminded me of a couple of posts we wrote earlier this summer, titled Real World Idealists. In one, we shared a love story about a volunteer from Portland, Oregon who went to Brazil to volunteer for a couple of weeks, and ended up getting married to the founder of her host NGO!

With a big tip of the hat to Google, we thought we’d ask: do you have a story about how using our site helped you make a move, dream big, or solve a problem?

If so, please share it below in the comments. We might follow up with you and share it on our blog!
[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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