One thing we LOVE about Seattle is the number of do-gooders there are and the amount of innovation that comes out of this city. To help facilitate those that have a business idea for social good or want to be a part of one, our friends at the Hub Seattle are hosting Seattle’s first SocEnt Weekend.

In case you’re wondering what #Socent Weekend is, it’s a 50 hour crash-course in how to start a social enterprise – a business that will have a positive social impact on our world.

To kick off the weekend, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn will be at the event on Friday evening just before 7pm. Teams will work throughout the weekend towards a final pitch on Sunday evening at 5:30pm. In this time, teams will take an idea to make positive social change and develop an actionable business plan to move forward.

The organizers have got a host of amazing prizes, phenomenal judges and mentors, as well a great group of participants to build up your network.  Don’t miss out on this first-of-its kind opportunity.  If you have a great business idea for social good, or want to be a part of one and can contribute your design or development skills, register today!

With just one day left until the big event starts, SocEnt weekend is specifically looking for a few more designers, techies, or startup junkies. If that’s you, you’re in need of this weekend at #SocEnt Weekend. Teams of social entrepreneurs need your skills and action-oriented approaches to turn their ideas into world changing real businesses.

We can’t wait to hear about the great social enterprises that come out of the weekend!



There’s a nothing like a bit of jargon-busting from time to time, especially when it concerns a word that is heavily used. A word like empowerment, for example – we talk about it a lot at Jolkona. But why? What is it about empowerment that is so fundamental to our vision as a non-profit? The answer to that question lies in the relationship between power and justice: one of the core functions of justice is granting power to those who need it. Take any situation of injustice, chronic or temporary, and at its root will be an imbalance or abuse of power.

In America there is an imbalance of power in the meat industry. Small scale farmers are marginalized due to agricultural pressures to yield high quantity (not quality) at minimum costs. In the world there is an imbalance in the allocation of wealth, and one of the many countries that suffer interminably because of this is Sudan. Here farmers lack sufficient resources and access to agricultural education. Imbalances of power in the farming industry are local and global. So that’s why we started the Eat Local, Give Global campaign.

What was it about?

The goal was two-fold: to raise awareness of America’s overlooked local farming industry, whilst raising funds to provide tools and agricultural education for women farmers in Sudan. To do this we partnered with the brilliant and munificent Bill the Butcher, a Seattle-based chain of neighborhood butcher shops that supports sustainable farming practices by selling grass fed, natural meats from local farmers and ranchers. The funds were raised in three ways:

1) You could donate online through Jolkona via the campaign page

2) Customers could donate in any one of the six shops around Seattle

3) Bill the Butcher generously donated 10% of its sales on Thursdays and Fridays to the campaign

To throw in a bit of competition, we devised the Great Meat Race. This was a competition to see which of the six shops could raise the most of amount of money via customer and online donations.

What was the impact?

Some – but not all – of the results are in. We do not yet know the winner of the Great Meat Race, neither do we know the final amount raised including the 10% donation from Bill the Butcher’s Thursdays and Fridays sales. However, we do have the results from the donations made online and in the shops by you the donors. Remember: $30 covers the cost for one Sudanese woman to attend 2 days of farming classes, providing her with essential knowledge and tools which she can share with her entire village.

Through donations made online and in the shops, over $1170 was raised, providing training for 39 women.

Returning, then, to complete my jargon-busting: the crux of empowerment is not exercising power on someone’s behalf; rather, it is the placing of power into their own hands. And in this campaign the power was education and tools, both of which the women farmers in Sudan can utilize to change their own lives, that of their families, and that of their entire community. This is empowerment. Sincerest thanks to all who donated.

Stay tuned to find out which shop wins the Great Meat Race, and also for the final total raised and impact made….

And don’t forget: you are what you meat.





As we’re currently wrapping up Jolkona’s 2012 strategy plan, we’d like to recognize our Director of Strategy, Seema Bhende, as this month’s featured volunteer. Seema has been with us since 2009, which makes her one of our most senior volunteers. Truly she has been a tremendous asset to Jolkona. By day, Seema is a Senior Director of Social Innovation at Waggener Edstrom where she consults with both nonprofit and Corporate Social Responsibility clients.

Over the last 2 ½ years, Seema has helped define our strategy as a nonprofit. She cultivated our invaluable partnership with Waggener Edstrom, which resulted in two matching campaigns and a pro bono ideation session. She has increased our visibility through a feature in Giving 2.0 and other news media, and has also hosted and facilitated several quarterly weekend strategy sessions with key volunteers to brainstorm ideas and direction for Jolkona. In addition, she helped mastermind our current volunteer structure, which has enabled us to accomplish so much with such limited resources.

What I deeply respect and admire about Seema is her ability to keep us focused and to think strategically in finding solutions to problems. Crucially, she has helped Jolkona steer a course of accountability to its own goals over the last two years. On a personal note, she has also just been a great support for me – and other staff and volunteers involved with Jolkona, I’m certain. Here’s what two other Jolkona volunteers had to say about working with Seema:

“Seema is a true leader and incredibly loyal. You can always count on her to take charge of an important project and volunteer to assist where she is most valuable. Along with being a stalwart team player, Seema is incredibly knowledgable about business, marketing, and NPOs. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her and working alongside such a wonderful person.” Aaron Alhadeff.

“Seema is one of the first volunteers and the longest serving amongst the currently active volunteers. She has played an enormous role in the strategic growth of Jolkona over the past 2 years, and her support has been critical to both Nadia and I. She has been a invaluable asset for Jolkona.” Adnan Mahmud.

Seema is truly passionate about Jolkona’s mission and vision of inspiring more giving to the nonprofit sector through our platform, and we’re honored and privileged to have her support as an integral part of the team. Thank you, Seema, for all that you’ve done and continue to do for Jolkona! We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

One of the things we’re encouraged to do here at Jolkona is to find projects that resonate with us personally. Jolkona has some 120 projects, so that’s not so hard a thing to do. And the idea is to really invest ourselves in those favorite projects: to learn about them, to draw attention to them, to love them. Our motto – Your choice. Your world. Your impact. – is not just an alluring marketing slogan; it’s an attitude, creed, and work ethic that is congruent with our very own grassroots. And the 12 Days of Giving Campaign epitomizes that spirit. (To understand more about those grassroots, watch this excellent talk given by our CEO, Adnan Mahmud, at last year’s TEDXRainier conference.)

What was the campaign about?

The 12 Days of Giving Campaign saw all of us at Jolkona split into 12 teams. Each team picked a project they wanted to support and set a target for how much they wanted to raise. To promote the project, every team made a video regarding what the project was about and why they were supporting it. Then each on each of the 12 days leading up to December 25th one project was revealed on our campaign page. The goal was to raise as much support as we could to achieve the targets each team set for themselves. Take a look at the creative videos promoting the projects at our campaign page.

What was the impact?

The figures are in. The efforts were sterling. Here is the impact:

6 months of psychological care for 12 orphaned children in Bolivia. Project partner: Friends of Orphans.

12 children in India medicated against life threatening diarrhea. Project partner: Calcutta Kids.

1 month of education for 22 disabled children in Nepal. Project partner: The Rose International Fund for Children.

1 month’s literacy education for 9 children in India. Project partner: India Rural Development Fund.

28 children received night classes in the tsunami-ravaged Prefecture of Migayi in Japan. Project partner: iLeap/Katariba.

7 publications in the Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal. Project partner: Machik.

8 full lunches for Peruvian weavers and their families. Project partner: Awamaki.

2 semesters of text-books, midday meals, and uniform for a child in India. Project partner: Inida Rural Development Fund.

$489 in working capital for aspiring entrepreneurs in India. Project partner: Upaya.

7 Notebooks for youth classes at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Project partner: Pacific Science Center.

6 months of schooling and medical costs for 2 children in Bangladesh. Project partner: Distressed Children & Infants International.

3 months of peer tutoring for a child in the U.S. Project partner: Soccer in the Streets.

The lives of many have been touched; the lives of real people with real needs. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated their time, money, and energy.

The 2011 holiday season, then, was truly a season for giving the gift of impact. Quarter 4 was our best quarter yet at Jolkona, sending $70k to our partners.  And here’s the challenge: that our giving not be something purely seasonal, because the ability to choose is not seasonal; it’s perennial. It’s your choice, your world, your impact.

Make a choice here.


Let’s face it, although the principles at the heart of Valentine’s Day are noble, the day itself has decayed into something embarrassingly gaudy and grossly over-commercialized. But this is not just my opinion; it’s that of millions of others who are ditching Valentine’s Day and rebooting their February 14th as Generosity Day. In their own words, it’s one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying Yes.

What is this? you might ask, some Occupy Valentine’s Day movement? Not really. It’s simply about reclaiming actions of love – not obligation – for Valentine’s Day. It’s about doing away with the usual kitsch, and instead, showing your love with acts of costly and generous kindness to those you know and love – and to those you don’t. It is, if you like, about putting the O! back into love.

Started last year by Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer for Acumen Fund, the idea spread like wildfire and became what it is today – a million-strong movement of people. On his blog, Dichter suggests,

“Give to people on the street. Tip outrageously. Help a stranger. Write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them. Smile. Donate (more) to a cause that means a lot to you. Take clothes to GoodWill. Share your toys (grownups and kids). Be patient with yourself and with others. Replace the toilet paper in the bathroom. All generous acts count!”

And you know one of the things that seriously bothers me about our glitzy twenty-first century Valentine’s Day – indeed, I loathe this – it systematically excludes those who are single. Because they don’t know how to love? Or because they’re unworthy of receiving love? How flagrantl unfair and apocryphal! Generosity Day does not discriminate against relationship status. Single, engaged, married, or divorced, it calls all of us to participate.

How will YOU participate? Here are a few generous ideas for you:

Go to the Generosity Day website here.

Witness acts of generosity via the Facebook page.

Tweet the love using the #generosityday hashtag.

Share the love with those in need this Generosity Day by making a donation through Jolkona

Or here’s a loving idea I wrote about last week: Jolkona’s Valentine’s Day gift cards.




What makes a company stand out and truly sparkle among the sea of eager entrepreneurs ready to stand in the spotlight? Is there a language to a successful business? When your mission is to provide a non-profit example of humanitarian work, how do you gain enough recognition and generate enough buzz to truly be heard?

TRAY Creative is one such agency that develops a strong identity and unique marketing for any business, but especially for those who may lack an available resource due to low funding.

I had a chance to talk with Ralph Allora, TRAY Creative’s Principal/Marketing Director on their most recent campaign that ended before the new year. We provided them with the giving platform to make this event happen successfully. Get to know Ralph, TRAY Creative, and the challenge below:

What is the inspiration behind TRAY Creative’s Holiday Giving Challenge?
TRAY Creative is a big supporter of Jolkona, and we had been talking for some time about partnering on a corporate giving campaign. So we hit upon the idea of doing a Holiday Giving Challenge in December–a limited-time competition to raise money for a handful of selected nonprofits.
TRAY designed the online giving page and developed content for the social media and PR components of the campaign. Jolkona did the development work and hosted the page. We paid a licensing fee to cover development and hosting to ensure that the participating organizations received 100% of their pledged donations.
We approached four nonprofits based in Seattle to participate in the program, and they all agreed. We knew there had to be an incentive to get donors excited about the competition, so we added a reward: the organization that raised the most money would receive $2,500 in pro bono marketing and creative services from TRAY in 2012.

How was the response?
We were thrilled with the response. In just 26 days, we were able to raise almost $7,000 for the four nonprofits. Because these are locally focused organizations, that’s a meaningful number.

What is your personal experience with each non-profit organization featured in the campaign?
We picked these four organizations specifically because they represent causes we care about. People for Puget Sound represented the environment, the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation represented animal protection, FareStart represented economic empowerment, and the University of Washington Dream project represented education. For any business thinking about running a campaign like this, our advice would be to partner with organizations that align with your company’s core values. It’s critical to the success of the program.

What do you believe is the greatest public impact from this campaign?
Especially around the holidays, people are inundated with appeals from different nonprofits. There are so many choices, so many opportunities to give, so it’s important to create incentives, which we feel we did successfully. First, by offering a prize of pro bono assistance for the winning organization, we were able to keep donors motivated and show them that their dollars could go further. Second, because it was a competition the participating groups–TRAY and the nonprofits–actively used Facebook, Twitter, and e-marketing to rally their audiences throughout the campaign. We added a pie chart on the giving page, which updated the results in real time and kept it exciting down to the final days, when People for Puget Sound surged ahead and won the competition.

Looking forward to another campaign? Have anything in the works?
Yes, we’re hoping to make this an annual holiday tradition, and raise even more money this year. And we’re already talking to Jolkona about creating a giving-platform template that can be branded and customized so that other businesses can run this kind of cause-marketing campaign in a simple, cost-effective way. For any small or midsize company that’s looked at a miltimillion-dollar initiative and wondered how they can pull off their own small-scale version, we think this could be a great solution.

What does philanthropy mean to you?
Speaking from a business standpoint, philanthropy is about more than cutting a check for a nonprofit and calling it a day. It’s about giving back and expressing your company’s core values on multiple levels, whether that’s encouraging employee volunteerism, doing pro bono work, or getting employees, customers and vendors actively involved in a campaign like TRAY Holiday Giving Challenge. When you’re willing to put your company’s brainpower, time and resources to wrok on behalf of a cause you believe in, that’s true philanthropy.

6,768 dollars were raised during this challenge, and the winner was People for Puget Sound with a total of 2,880 dollars raised. Great job!
Click here to learn more about TRAY Creative, or follow their tweets.

Has your Mum ever sent you a Valentine’s card? I’m quite certain mine has – and on many occasions. You see, there was a period in my life from when I was about eleven to when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, where on every February 14th I would receive a blank Valentine’s card in the mail. Sweet but also mysterious. More intriguing was the fact that each year the handwriting on the envelope was different. The plot thickens, though. Not only was the handwriting different, but by looking at the stamp I could see that each year the card had been mailed from a different location. Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I’m pretty sure only my Mum could have been so diligent – and kind – to prepare with such consistent aforethought. Mind you, I’ve never asked her, so I could be wrong. Nevertheless, it was a pretty original idea, you have to agree.

And here’s another original idea for Valentine’s Day: a Jolkona gift card.

How do they work?

It’s really very simple:

Choose your template

Purchase the gift card for your desired amount

Send the gift card to someone you love

The recipient redeems the gift card via any of our projects

In short, you’re giving so someone else can give. And if love is a gift, then this is love.

Forget not: actions speak louder than words. So this year, tell someone you love them by empowering them to take action. Besides, nothing says I love you like empowerment.

Send a Jolkona gift card and cultivate change here.


Note from the editor: Post is written by Jordan Belmonte while in Bolivia.

Visiting the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Home in Bolivia, I was reminded of the importance of community and the special bond of a family.  Pequenos Hermanos means Our Little Brothers and Sisters. It is a home that supports 102 orphaned or abandoned children and teenagers. NPH is founded on the four pillars of unconditional love, work, responsibility and service to the community.

The NPH home, staff and children surprised me at every moment.  NPH Bolivia faces many challenges—funding, government regulations (government restrictions will not allow NPH to show any photos of the children, making fundraising difficult)–even the weekly grocery shopping is a challenge due to the need for special tax receipts. Despite all the practical difficulties with operating a home for over 100 children, Jolkona sat down and asked the program’s national director, Jose Luis, about the biggest challenges they faced at NPH Bolivia. He said, without hesitation, that the greatest challenge was always to make the children feel loved and that everyone at NPH is really their family.

Continuous focus on creating a safe space filled with unconditional love for these children is truly inspiring.  In addition to basic housing, food, and education the NPH home ensures that the children are taken care spiritually and emotionally. One of the NPH programs, which Jolkona supports, helps sponsor the children’s emotional well-being by providing personal and group counseling services. Many of the children have seen the death of their family members or have come from physically or sexually abusive homes. They are placed with NPH by Bolivia’s child protective services.  The psychologists at NPH help the children understand by moving past these experiences, providing weekly individual counseling services so that the children can live normal and healthy lives. The counselors also host group sessions on conflict resolution, values, sexual education, and positive behavioral skills.

When I think of the term “orphanage,” many words and associations come to mind. NPH surprised me and defied all these associations with its responsible children, dedicated staff and supportive programs.  It proved its namesake as a ‘home’ by truly providing a household environment for Bolivia’s must vulnerable children, and ensuring that despite their tragedies, their lives were once again filled with the support and comfort of family.