Case study: Idealist

by Kine Nordstokka on Wed, 2011-03-30 15:57
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Name: Idealist
Location: Global
Mission: Connects people, organisations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.


The Idealist was set up to help people find practical solutions to social and environmental problems. In the early eighties the founder, Ami Dar, got the idea for a global network that would help connect people and organisations to do more with all the resources we have. Nearly ten years later, in 1994, he set up the Contact Center Network in an attempt to start a network of meeting spaces in different communities. At Contact Center Network people could connect with other people in their local area and share ideas and inspire each other for local action. The year after Ami set up a simple website called Contact with links to NGOs around the globe. Contact was later renamed Idealist, the idea being that it is an ‘idea list’ for idealists who want to improve the world they live in. The webpage became at this stage a searchable database for volunteering opportunities.


Over the decade Idealist got more features such as the blog, podcasts series, and a messaging system. It has also published several handbooks and documents to help young people who want to improve their communities. The website is now translated into Spanish and French and Action Without Border, the organisation behind the website, has started organising Non-profit Career Fairs around the world. Idealist has received several awards including the Webby Award for best website in the Community categoryand Forbes called Idealist one of its Favourite Sites of 2002. In 2002 it also ran its first Idealist Career Day, a customisable workshop allowing students to explore the range of career choices in the social sector. In 2003 it organised the first ever national conference on Non-profit Human Resources in the United States. Today the Idealist website has more than one million users around the world.

The Innovation

Idealist aims to build on the common desire of supporters all over the world to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect. The site is created with the vision that every person who wants to help another or improve the world they live in should have the ability to do so. Idealist is therefore seeking to enable and empower citizens globally to do this by highlighting and making opportunities for action and collaboration known.

Key Ingredients

Idealist is for young people who know they want to do something good, but have no idea where or how to start. At Idealist they can search for volunteer opportunities, internships, work opportunities and events or connect with organisations that work in areas of interest. Young people can also get help starting up their own organisations, connect with like-minded people or promote own work by posting events and resources. Idealist has also published articles giving young people career advice.


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