In the world of philanthropy, World Give Day is a relatively new kid on the block compared to many of the other celebrated days of awareness. As a non-profit in our infant days ourselves, development is something we can relate to, which is why World Give Day gets our vote!

This year, World Give Day turns 2 and will be celebrating its third annual event. Friday May 4th is World Give Day 2012.

World Give Day came about when GiveForward co-founder realized that while there were a few days set aside in the philanthropic calendar to encourage people to volunteer (last week’s National Volunteer Week being one of them), there weren’t any devoted specifically to encourage people to give. She decided to fill that void, and thus World Give Day was born.

What is it about?

The idea is wonderfully simple: creating unexpected joy by giving. And similar to Earth Day, there aren’t any rules or regulations about what and how you give. You can give your time volunteering, you can give your money by donating to a project, you can even give someone a smile or a hug. It truly doesn’t matter. At its epicenter, it is about getting more people to become actively involved in their community to raise awareness about their favorite cause. If there’s something you’re passionate about, then give in that name and show how a small gift can make a big impact.

Spread the word: Crowdfunding

One of the best things you can do to participate in World Give Day is simply by telling people about World Give Day. Start a conversation with a friend, like the World Give Day Facebook page, follow World Give Day on Twitter and tweet using the #giveday hasthtag. When people start talking, things start happening. And when things start happening, then crowdfunding happens.

What is crowdfunding? It is the collective effort of people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. These supported efforts can be anything from disaster relief and non-profit support to political campaigns or startup companies seeking fundraising. Crowdfunding has preserved communities, saved lives, and transformed our capacity to give entirely with our hearts and visibly see the effect of our giving directly.

We like crowdfunding at Jolkona. It epitomizes what we’re about – people making small donations that make a big impact. And every small donation, like a drop of water, collects to make that ocean of difference.

With over 120+ projects you can be the difference and we will show the change. Be the difference, see the change here. Participate in World Give Day.



While it seems every week is volunteer week at Jolkona, we couldn’t let this week go without a BIG shoutout to our AMAZING volunteers since it is National Volunteer Week. At Jolkona, we have over 40 committed volunteers who support our work, helping with anything and everything to support our mission, including things like writing for our blog, running our social media, PR, building mobile apps, conducting surveys, graphic design, event planning and more! In addition, we have an incredible volunteer board and advisory board who help provide guidance and support to Jolkona and who we can’t thank enough.

In case you didn’t know, National Volunteer Week has been around since 1974 and is all about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities—and what better way than by volunteering, right?  This week is about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, in unison, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.

National Volunteer Week is also about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.

We feature volunteers on a monthly basis at Jolkona as well as at the end of the year, not only to recognize them for their efforts and contribution to Jolkona and society, but also to help inspire others to volunteer as well. I truly believe that often times by volunteering the volunteers get more out of it then they’d imagine.  So many friendships have been formed through our volunteers and I think volunteering with anything you feel passionate about adds more purpose and substance to your life.

We started our volunteer program out of necessity because of our limited budget to hire people.  And what we found was that there are so many people who want to volunteer more than just their time, but they really want to offer their skills to make a difference.  So at Jolkona our volunteer program is all skilled-based and lines up with people’s skills and interests.  I hope to continue to see Jolkona work with such passionate volunteers and that volunteerism grows more and more every day.

What sort of volunteer work do you enjoy?  If you volunteer with Jolkona, what do you enjoy the most about it?

Check out some of our past featured volunteer posts for more reasons why you should get involved in volunteering in your community.

Happy National Volunteer Week everyone!  And a special THANK YOU to all the Jolkona volunteers – past and present – that have supported us over the years.  We truly would not be here today without your support!


In 1969 an oil platform off the Californian coast of Santa Barbara blew out, unleashing a ghastly environmental nightmare. A nation stood appalled and watched as an entire ecosystem drowned in the toxic filth of crude oil. Out of the horror of its aftermath, and in an effort to bring a greater social consciousness of environment protection, Earth Day was born and first celebrated on April 22nd 1970.

42 years later the environmental issues that plague this planet rage ever louder, but so too does the crusading Earth Day. This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day 2012.

What is it about?

The Earth Day Network connects with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the environmental movement. On Sunday over 1 billion people will voice their love and appreciation for this planet whilst demanding for its protection. It is a campaign designed to provide people with the opportunity to unite in their call for a sustainable future, directing them toward quantifiable outcomes. One of those quantifiable outcomes is the Billion Acts of Green project. Yes, that’s one billion not one million.

A Billion Acts of Green

This mother of all projects encourages individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to support the campaign by performing environmental actions, such as biking to work, picking up garbage off the street, or planting a tree. The goal is to reach one billion actions by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. The accomplishment will be presented at the Rio +20 Conference to be used as a lever addressing the UN’s inaction and inspiring leaders to reach a global agreement.

What can I do?

Simple: pledge any act of green you can think of and let the people at Earth Day know here. At Jolkona we have 16 partners that are directly involved in environmental protection. With $5 your donation plants trees in countries from the Philippines, through India, Senegal, to Haiti. With $10 your donation teaches youth in Costa Rica about water conservation. With $24 your donation conserves rainforests in Tanzania. With $40 your donation builds a fuel efficient stove for a family in Nepal. With $100 your donation trains environmental youth advocates in Kenya.

Go to our projects page and select ‘Environment’ under the ‘Projects’ column to view all the appropriate projects. Join us and a billion others in the call and pledge to protect our planet Earth.

For more information, resources, and ideas go to the Earth Day website.

Follow and share the movement on Facebook and Twitter.

Tweet using the #earthday hashtag.

Here at Jolkona, we like to reflect upon good deeds that are done each and every day. No matter the price or the size of the deed, it contributes as a larger consciousness of positivity in our world. Sometimes the good deed is sprung upon us within seconds, such as lifting someone up who’s tripped on the ground. Other moments are thoughtful and methodically carried out, like those who donate their time and a smiling face to soup kitchens all across the globe. For most of us, giving is more than a good deed; it changes you. It reflects upon you as a change that transforms who you are into who you’ve become. Being a part of the Jolkona family speaks to a larger purpose for each and every one of us. We become united under the community of philanthropy.


Sumaira Arastu

Today we are giving a big thank-you to Sumaira Arastu, long standing Jolkona enthusiast and donor. She generously shared her thoughts about giving and why Jolkona is meaningful for her and her life:


What was your first impression of the Jolkona foundation?

Well, I learned about Jolkona when it was still a seedling in the womb. Nadia, the co-founder, and I had gone to college together and she told me about the idea of creating an organization where students and young professionals can contribute in a meaningful way even in a limited financial capacity. The idea of a small act having a larger impact seemed very appealing to me.

Which Jolkona projects have you donated to that stand out?

I believe that health is a foundation to success, without health our education, wealth, and interests cannot be enjoyed. This is why the projects that focus on helping people gain access to health care or focus on preventative care are most appealing to me.
What do you enjoy about giving to Jolkona projects?
I really like the transparency of Jolkona. It is great to be able to track every single penny. Also, I identify with Jolkona’s mission, so it’s rewarding to be able to be part of something that helps realize my ideals.

If you had to describe Jolkona in 4 words, what would you say?

Vital, Innovative, Effective, and Ambitious

How would you describe philanthropy?

Philanthropy to me is about feeling alive. It allows us to build connections with people through any resource we can share. This makes us feel like we are part of something larger and more meaningful. To live for yourself is utterly lonely and you miss out on a feeling of community. I think that part of evolving as a society and as humans requires us to support one another and share our resources so that all of us can realize our potential. This ultimately benefits everyone, even if it means a small sacrifice in the short term.

What are your hobbies? Do you participate other community projects or events in your spare time?

I do. I enjoy volunteering with youth programs so when I can, I volunteer with a program called “Up and Running Again,” which is a group that works with inner city high school and elementary students to train for a half marathon with the idea that such training will allow them to set goals for themselves in all parts of their lives and know that they can achieve them. I also volunteer for Junior Achievement, a program geared to helping elementary students learn more about the business world, so that they can become inspired to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of their own communities.  Otherwise, my hobbies mostly consist of eating chocolate and drinking coffee :).


Giving is contagious. Share a small token of kindness to start a chain reaction of sharing and growing. Start here.
Tweet your first time donating with @Jolkona on Twitter, or share your story on our Facebook.


Sorry to let the cat out of the bag so soon, but I think the straight answer to this question is no, Amazon does not have an obligation to philanthropy. However, before I go any further let me get two things clear: yes, we do have Amazon employees who volunteer at Jolkona; no, I’m not one of them.

In case you were on the moon (with Jeff Bezos’s private aerospace company perhaps), the issue of Amazon’s apparent absence in the philanthropic life of its hometown (Seattle) featured in an article belonging to a wider four-part series by the Seattle Times questioning some of the company’s practices.

View from an Amazon office building, South Lake Union, Seattle. Photo credit: Flickr, Cliff Hung

First of all, I don’t really wish to comment on the other issues regarding Amazon’s ethics of business, mainly because capitalism doesn’t strike me as a particularly ethical system in the first place. It’s a paradoxical argument, in my view. And secondly, because we’re talking about philanthropy here, not business. Which is precisely my point.

The truth is, a company has legal obligations to its shareholders, employees, customers, and…. well that’s about it.

At the heart of philanthropy is not corporate business. At the heart of philanthropy is the individual promoting the well-being of man-kind. Businesses, though, are about people, and so one could argue that it would be beneficial for them to care about the well-being of the community and people they serve.

But as we’ve seen the foundation of almost every business is a visionary individual. Likewise, the foundation of almost every non-profit is not thanks to a corporation, but to a single person with a single mission. A case in point, of course, is our own CEO, Adnan Mahmud, who started Jolkona whilst simultaneously holding down a full time product manager position at Microsoft.

Microsoft, though, is a good example of a large corporate business that does encourage philanthropic participation from its employees, offering donation matching, volunteer matching, and pro-bono software to non-profits, among other company wide philanthropic initiatives. The question, then, becomes can businesses like Amazon become serious participants in encouraging individuals towards philanthropy and they themselves as a company promoting the well-being of others? Absolutely they can. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they indeed should.

According to a study by Corporate Citizenship 85% of Americans have a more positive image of a product or a company when it supports a cause they care about. Whilst 79% of Americans say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand is associated with a good cause. It’s hardly rocket science, but in a nutshell: a company is likely to make more money if they are seen to be connected to philanthropic causes. Tom’s shoes is an excellent example of this.

The gain for Amazon, then, in theory, should be greater profitability. But if philanthropy equates to profitability, then one might ask why has Amazon not done more for philanthropic initiatives in its own community. Clearly, though, they’ve assessed what is most profitable for them, and at the moment they seem to be saying corporate philanthropy is not the direction they want to go in. You can’t criticize them for that. Can we criticize them ethically, though? We can question them, yes. But I still don’t believe corporate businesses have obligations to philanthropy. Whether or not, though, Amazon will suffer an eventual consumerist backlash is yet to be determined.

The possibility remains that if Amazon becomes more philanthropic it could improve its own bottom line, which in turn would be a win win situation for shareholders and the community.

Does Amazon have a obligation to philanthropy? No. Might Amazon benefit from taking part in philanthropic activities? Very possibly, yes. Could Amazon have a big impact on the philanthropic community? Absolutely they could.  But again, I personally believe philanthropy is more about the individual, not corporate business. Non-profits need and value the help of corporate businesses, but we must rely on ourselves to better the world around us.

Don’t ask what Amazon can do for philanthropy. Ask what you yourself can do for philanthropy.

Be the change you want to see in the world here.

This post was written by Gabriel St. John.  He is a volunteer with Jolkona and contributes and manages the blog.  He has a Masters of Research degree in European Languages and Culture. He hails all the way from Cornwall, England, where he studied at the University of Exeter.



We all know it, “awesome” is one of the most exhaustively misused words in the English language. A video on the internet of a man falling off a chair goes viral, racking up 1 million hits in a day. This is, apparently, awesome. No, this is not awesome. If something is awesome, it is supposed to inspire awe. It should elicit a reaction of overwhelming admiration. Chances are, if something is truly awesome, you might find yourself speechless, which is why it took me one hour to find the opening line to begin this post. The Give2Girls campaign was awesome.

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we launched our second Give2Girls campaign, which ran for the full 31 days of March. Our aim was to empower girls and women the world over. We wanted to write our own chapter in the story of women’s history. This year, with the invaluable help of CRAVE and Women@Google, we had a bountiful matching fund of $6,000. Our goal was to raise $12,000. It is with much excitement – and awe – that I can announce that the total raised was:


We are so thankful to everyone who participated – everyone. To those who donated, to those who blogged, to those who tweeted and re-tweeted, and to those who gave up their time and energy. A very special thanks must be reserved for Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian for their munificent contribution to the matching funds. The awareness you’ve created and the impact you’ve made has been monumental. So to all of you: way to be feminists!

See the impact for yourself:

Underwrite 2 Day of Training & Counseling in Haiti
Transportation for 2 Midwives in Palestine
Training for 8 women in bio-intensive farming methods in Kenya
Training for 8 Young Woman Trainers in Nepal
Training for 6 Girls in Pakistan
Diarrhea Treatment for 2 Girls in India
2 Girls to attend Day School in China
1 Field Trip in Tanzania
1 Year of Education in Liberia
The Rescue of 6 Girls in Nepal
Transportation to Meet with 8 Weavers in Peru
School Uniforms to 3 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies to 52 Girls in Liberia
School Supplies for 4 School-aged Weavers in Peru
Oral Rehydration Salts to 20 People in Somalia
One Year of Schooling to 2 Girls in Liberia
20 Woman Access to Clothing in Seattle, WA
6 Technology Classes in USA
7 Semesters of Education in Liberia
8 Life Skills Class in USA
Medical Supplies for 15 Weeks in Bangladesh
Lower Level Literacy Education for 26 Women in Afghanistan
Health and Hygiene Training for 3 Women in Kenya
Food for 10 Weeks in Uganda
25 Health Kits in Somalia
Farm Training to 8 Women in Sudan
Clean Water to 8 Families in Guatemala
13 Water Construction Tools in Kenya
A Stipend  for 1 Week in USA
156 Months of Oral Contraceptives in Nepal
22 Week of Health Screening in Bangladesh
5 weeks of care for a mother and her baby in Guatemala
1 Stove to 2 Families in Nepal
16 Solar Lamps in Tanzania
28 Personal Hygiene Kit in Tanzania
1 Month of Transportation in Tanzania
9 Hygiene Kits in Tanzania
6 Bag of Seeds in Nicaragua
10 “Safe Birth” Kits in Palestine
20 Fruit Trees in Tanzania
1-on-1 Care to three Woman in USA
10 Girls 1 Year of Public School Education in Pakistan
Funding for a Skills Workshop for 11 Weavers for 1 Year in Peru
Food for 3 Families of 6 People for 3 Weeks in Somalia
1 Week of a Cook’s Salary in Tanzania
3 Built Stoves in Nepal
Adoption of 3 Mothers in India