Jaclyn Lindsey and Melissa Burmester, co-founders of Kindness.org, launched their nonprofit organization to inspire people to choose kindness. Partnering with Oxford University to back their mission with facts, Kindness.org had its inaugural debut in the fall of 2016. With its debut, Lindsey and Burmester set out to change the world through research and true stories of how kindness can change the world one act at a time.
When asked where this idea for a nonprofit promoting kindness came from, both Lindsey and Burmester expressed that it sprouted from a desire to make an impactful difference.
“For me, I worked in the charity space and cared about helping in an effective way to have a positive impact on the world,” Lindsey says. “I landed on this idea of humans caring better for one another and that looked like kindness. Being involved in something that was inspiring, I guess delivering kindness was the path for me.”
For Burmester, promoting kindness was more than just a longing to make the world a better place. Having worked all over the world in the nonprofit space and private sector, Burmester has seen a variety of circumstances ranging from human beings living out in the middle of nowhere without access to clean water to high profile Californians living in LA. In each situation she noticed in herself and in others that kindness seemed to be the distinguishable difference between a positive or negative outcome.
“Even though I believed in kindness, I was really focused on outputs, achievements, and success,” Burmester says. “I thought, there’s got to be a better way, you can have both, you can do it, and I think that’s something critical in our world.” Burmester continues, “I don’t quite know how or why, but this was something I wanted to try to do.”
Partnering with Oxford University and other research institutions to back up their mission, Kindness.org underpins everything they do with research. “It’s validation, you know? It’s validation for the skeptic and the cynic, and when you lead with that it shows credibility.” Lindsey says.
With confirmed stats and facts tucked in their back pockets, Kindness.org collaborates with academic institutions and companies to educate, create videos, produce social media content, and to tell real people’s stories about kindness with the hopes of cutting through the day’s loud noise and inspire people to take action.
As Kindness.org’s co-founders and new mothers, Burmester and Lindsey, look for different ways to practice kindness every day. As a part of Burmester’s daily routine with her 2-year-old daughter, she asks her what she’s grateful for or what made her smile. “Her answers are the best!” Burmester laughs, “I mean, these things that little kids say make you really pause and think … and appreciate what’s around us.”
Burmester also tries to incorporate other acts of kindness into her own and little one’s day, whether they pick up litter on a walk, offer some words of encouragement, or even write a kind note.“For me it’s trying to figure out how to really model that behavior for [my daughter] as much as possible and when I don’t, I explain that as well.” Burmester explains, “I really think about micro kindness that we can integrate into our everyday lives.”
For new mom Lindsey, she has to be more aware of her actions as she learns from her 11 month-old son. “Already since becoming a mom I’ve become so much more aware of my actions and choices because he’s watching and he’s modeling. I mean, my favorite thing is that I’m obsessed with La Croix! He started to crawl up into the recycling bin… and dig inside for a can, and sit down and drink it, like his mom.” Lindsey laughs, “It’s unbelievable to me and it’s crazy to see a 10 month-old doing this, that was such a reminder that he is going to do what he sees me do.”
Like Burmester, Lindsey tries to incorporate these micro acts of kindness into her everyday life, making them the norm while also acknowledging when she gets things wrong. It’s one thing to believe in kindness and want to practice it, Lindsey says, it’s another to commit and ask, “Is it the thing that I myself am doing?”
This year Kindness.org wants to challenge others to think of acts of kindness that they can do around New York City, Burmester and Lindsey say, there are “endless opportunities” to be kind. “For some reason, New York has the reputation for not being kind but, I don’t think that’s true. There’s people in need and you can just look in there and see people being kind to each other,” Burmester says.
Here’s a list of kind acts to get your family started:
- Encourage your child to say thanks to a teacher, a grocery store cashier, or someone
holding the door for them. You can even make a game out of finding people to thank
- Color the world with kindness
Practice self-care and treat yourself to a coloring book to transform your feelings into
art. Or leave one at your favorite coffee shop with a note!
- Give a plant away
Gather your family and give plants to strangers in a local park, or surprise a friend or
community member (like your hairdresser or pharmacist). Plants and kindness can take
- Share your favorite uplifting song
What song makes you dance around in your pajamas, lifts your mood when you’re
feeling blue, or gives you the courage to stand up for what you believe in? Share your
favorite with your family!
- Pay it forward with coffee
Running here, there and everywhere? Coffee is a welcome pick-me-up. Pay for the person
behind you and perk up everyone’s mood – caffeine not required!
- Gift a kind book
Have a favorite memoir, work of fiction, or nonfiction book that illustrates or helps
people understand kindness? Leave a copy for a friend or stranger to discover with your
note of recommendation.
- Online, share a story of a kind act you witnessed today.
- Online, share social media content to show support for your friends (even if they don’t
- Add positive comments on social media to purposefully spread kindness.
- Sending a purposeful thank you message to someone.