Ask Ero: Answers for baffled and confused Idealists

In this series of blog posts, I’ll try to answer all your questions about anything and everything regardless of how ridiculously unqualified I am to answer them. Consider me sort of a tech-literate, bearded, Ann Landers or a work-safe Dan Savage.

Ero is Thoughtful Adjusted Cropped3Hi, I’m Ero. I’m Idealist.org’s tech support guy. I love answering questions from people who use our website. And I’m here to help you when you’re helpless and confused.

There’s a pretty good chance you’re feeling helpless and confused right now. I know, because I get phone calls on a regular basis from people who want me to rescue a lost cat.  Or who’d like to send me a large pile of used medical equipment. Or who think I’ve just personally rejected their resume for a teaching job in Canada.

As a garden-variety computer nerd who happens to love nonprofits and the people who work for them, I’m incredibly ill-equipped to answer any questions other than “How do I use the Idealist website?” I’m actually pretty good at answering that question, which is why I have a job answering questions about the Idealist website.

I can tell you, for instance, how to sign up, reset your password, add or remove your organization, pay an invoice, and much more.

But you call and ask me how to help the sea turtles, or what the tax rate is in New Jersey. Normally I’ll answer back that I’m not really qualified, and try to point you in the right direction if I can. But in these blog posts, I’ll answer any question you ask.

Until I get your first questions, I’ll try to shed light on how the website works. I’ll start by explaining two things that people don’t always know about Idealist:

1. Everything on our website comes from you.

We maintain a great website full of useful tools, but aside from our blogs, every single bit of content in it is made by our user community, the amazing Idealists around the world. Yes, I’m talking about you.

If your nonprofit has an account on our site, it’s because someone at your organization made one. If you’re getting email alerts, it’s not because we stole your identity; you signed up for an account with us.

We do our best to keep the website up-to-date, but we only built the playground, we’re not the parents.

2. We’re here to bring people together.

We’re not a corporation trying to sell your personal data, and we’re not really interested in ripping you off. We’re a nonprofit, too, and our mission is to make the world better by helping people be effective at doing good.

We want the website to work as well as it can, so that you can connect with others, copy good ideas, take advantage of our resources, and find organizations who you know would love to have you as an employee or volunteer. We couldn’t do it without you.

Have questions about anything I’ve said? Or about anything else (and I really do mean anything)? Ask me.

Ask Ero anything (anything anything anything) at ero@idealist.org. 

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Beyond nonprofit jobs: How one woman used Idealist to give away one million dollars

We know people mostly use our site to find nonprofit jobs. But did you know you could do so much more, like ask each other questions and maybe even find love? Here’s how one person used Idealist to connect with nonprofits who share the same vision.

Aleyda K. Meija had one million dollars to give away.

As Director for the first Caplow Children’s Prize, she was charged with finding people and organizations around the world working to prevent mortality for children under the age of five. She had no other constraints other than the issue of focus.

Money

(Photo via Images_of_Money on Flickr’s Creative Commons.)

So she turned to the Idealist community for help. After doing a keyword search, she found several organizations that fit what she was looking for.

“If you know what you want, the search is really powerful,” Aleyda says. “On the one hand, the Children’s Prize is offering something – one million dollars. On the other, there are people and organizations out there that are offering what we’re seeking, which are solutions to reduce child mortality around the world. It’s reciprocal, but to make the connection is critical.”

The organizations she contacted through Idealist responded in less than two days after she sent them a message, exceeding even Aleyda’s expectations.

“I was just curious. I didn’t think anything would come of it,” she says. “But I’ve talked to representatives of these organizations several times now. I’ve had these powerful conversations to the point where we decided to host a Google Hangout, and include a panel of these representatives in child health where they’re discussing the issues and aspects that are unique to their own organization.”

Since Aleyda reached out a couple of months ago, global nonprofits such as Brown Button FoundationSafe Mothers Safe BabiesMother Health International, and Floating Doctors are going to apply or have already applied to the Prize. More than that, they’ve shared knowledge with each other as part of this small community.

“In addition to saving children’s lives, the Children’s Prize is also about making these more direct and empowering connections between a donor and potential recipients,” she says. “To impact social change across great distances, the collaborative process is to a large extent technologically dependent these days.”

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Want to connect with others on our site but are a little unsure? Feel free to reach out to Aleyda for tips on messaging, organizing Google hangouts, and more.

Used our site for more than finding a nonprofit job? Let celeste know: celeste@idealist.org.

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Need help changing the world? Start here

You want to make the world a better place. But you don’t know where to start. Or how to keep going.

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Photo via katerha on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

Sound familiar? Over the past year, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people like you who’ve had ideas to better your community, whether it be starting your own project or getting involved with one that already exists. Some of you made your ideas happen. Others are still thinking about it.

It’s normal to feel stuck. Maybe you don’t have someone to bounce ideas off of. Or you’re afraid of failing. Sometimes, if you’re really honest with yourself, you start to question the point of it all.

If you’re nodding your head, then the content we write here will be for you.

While our friends over at idealistcareers.org will be helping you further your social impact career, we’ll be covering the small and big ways people are facing obstacles, and turning their good intentions into action.

You’ll find:

We’d love it if you’d help build this with us.

Tell us about yourself or someone who’s inspired you.  Connect with your fellow idealists. Join the conversation, or better yet, write for us.

Let us know how, despite the roadblocks, you’re doing what you love. And how you keep going because you don’t know any other way.
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Questions? Ideas? Stories? Contact celeste@idealist.org.

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