Note from the Editor: this post was written by the Jolkona


This month six Jolkona volunteers, including co-founders Nadia Khawaja Mahmud and Adnan Mahmud, are traveling to Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand to spend time visiting our partner organizations in Southeast Asia. Jolkona’s mission has always been to connect our donors to global philanthropic opportunities and show donors the impact of their donation, whether it’s a photo, video or a card. During this trip, we intend to capture the spirit of our mission. Our goal is to experience face-to-face the impact of Jolkona’s partners, and share our stories back with our donors and friends in the most effective way. Visiting our partners is also an invaluable part of evolving our giving platform. On top of that, we’re planning on experiencing the culture, food and having some fun along the way!

Past trips to Africa and South America have been key in developing closer relationships with our partners and directly experiencing the impact we’re making on the ground, as well as helping tell those stories to our donors.

Southeast Asia (Bangladesh specifically) is where our work first started. Three years later, we’ve scaled to over 110 projects around the globe, and 28 specifically in SE Asia. During our trip, we’ll be visiting:

  • Bangladesh – DCI, BRAC limb center
  • Thailand – Rockefeller Center, Thai Action Committee
  • Camdodia – 1. KMR, Tean Thor, FEDA Cambodia

Two new campaigns

To build excitement and garner support for the partner projects, we’re launching two campaigns. Both support projects that we will be visiting during our trip. Help raise funds for these great projects!

1. Provide a Supporting Brace & Rehabilitation in Bangladesh:

Our first partner visit in Bangladesh will be our partner BRAC at their Limb and Brace Fitting Centre (BLBC). Their primary goal is increasing the independence of physically disabled persons by enhancing their ability to participate in daily life, social and economic activities. BRAC supports the disabled population with rehabilitation aids and services using appropriate technology. Our goal through your donation is to provide a total of 4 braces for those in need. Donate to our campaign here.

2. Provide Medical Supplies to Bangladeshi Kids:

Our second visit will be with another of OUR inspirational partners in Bangladesh — Distressed Children & Infants. Through your donation, you can provide medication to help alleviate preventable illnesses related to lack of proper sanitation and water among impoverished children in Bangladesh. Make a donation here.

When you contribute the full amount to either projects, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation. You can also give different amounts, starting at $5, though you will not receive a proof for a partial gift.

We’re so excited to be doing this! Please keep up with us on our blog, Facebook and Twitter as we share Team Southeast Asia’s experiences! Also be sure to follow Nadia, Adnan and Melinda on Twitter as they’re posting some great live updates.


Nadia, Adnan, Chi, Krishnaja, Melinda & Zanoon

The Jolkona SE Asia Team

Please Note: This trip is a 100% funded by the volunteers who have graciously given of their own time and money. No funds from Jolkona have been used to sponsor any portion of this trip.

Daljit Singh, our stellar Office Manager, is a lady of eclectic talent: she maintains all the records of donations and expenses with fine comb consistency, she manages relations with partners and volunteers, she runs our Facebook page, she tweets up a storm on Twitter, and she even fixes our air conditioning. Like I said, stellar.

More recently, though, she’s quietly been building up a small empire on Jolkona’ s Pinterest, carefully curating all the stuff that inspires us and you the most. If you haven’t seen our Pinterest page, check it out here, or click on the image below:

As opposed to the linear format of Facebook with its endless scrolling down and infuriating “page loading” status bar, Pinterest reads more like a comic book with a series of different boards. Each board is its own category, making organizing and accessing different pins wonderfully simple.

Jolkona was recently featured in a top 10 list for best non-profit Pinterest pages by the social media news gurus Mashable. Daljit herself later featured in another piece by Mashable for 10 tips on how non-profits can use Pinterest effectively. Needless to say, we’re very proud of her!

If, like me, you don’t know all that much about Pinterest, here’s a useful infographic deconstructing how it’s used and what it’s all about:

[click on the infographic to enlarge]

Pinterest Deconstructed


Note from the Editor: this post was written by Muneezeh Kabir. She is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she earned degrees in English Honors and Women’s and Gender Studies. In college she spent several years tackling feminist issues, including chairing the Orange Jackets’ university-wide “Week of Women,” working as student staff in the UT Gender & Sexuality Center, and serving as Director of the Women’s Resource Agency. She currently lives in Houston, TX where she works in Accenture’s management consulting practice.


It’s hard to think that I’ve ever thought of myself as either an activist or philanthropist. I spent much of my time in college advocating for the women’s and LGBT communities in all the usual ways—organizing panels, participating in rallies, even producing “The Vagina Monologues” one year. I majored in Women’s & Gender Studies, led the campus’s most ambitious women leaders in an initiative to improve access to feminine hygiene products across campus, and attended all the feminist lectures offered.

I think I did it because after spending my childhood watching men behave discriminatingly towards my mother in the Middle East, reading about the plight of women in Afghanistan and Iran in high school, and experiencing my own fair share of new age, social media sexism in college, it only made sense. So when a student parent approached me on campus with horrifying narratives of insensitive faculties and outrageous policies, this too only made sense to pursue.

It began as a small group—two graduate students and myself. I had introduced the first student parent to the President of the Graduate Students Assembly who, to our surprise, said he had already been working on advocating for policy changes himself. We spent weeks seeking out more student parents and suddenly stumbled upon what seemed like an underground community of folks who were too tired from studying, grading papers, and working side jobs to make ends meet to share their issues with anyone.

And I listened to their stories.

I listened to the way the nurses on campus had mistreated them, the way so few buildings had comfort rooms or changing tables, the way the university daycare was unaffordable and had a year-long waiting list, the way academic advisors spoke to them as though they instead needed to speak to Services for Students with Disabilities. Young parenthood, I learned, was hard, and young parenthood in academia was even harder. Even the simplest of things, like library access, was restricted to mothers on maternity leave who needed materials to continue their dissertation work because of their so-called “inactive” student status.

Change came slowly. Our group grew. And once we compiled a comprehensive list of grievances and identified numerous achievable goals, we began to make our asks around campus. We asked for improved bus routes that would no longer force moms to walk up a hill with their baby and their books just to reach the daycare, we asked for student parents to have an administrative resource to help them navigate through the university bureaucracy, and we asked for discounted breast pumps to be sold at the university pharmacy.

We were successful in achieving most of these things. When I was elected Student Body Vice President, my Executive Board and I cut our stipends and used the money to create a need and merit-based scholarship fund for students who exemplified our campaign narrative of “Together Students Can.” We organized it in a way such that each of us could choose a student who best exemplified our own interpretations of the adage.

When I saw one applicant in particular, I knew immediately of his hardship. He was a bright international student from Korea with a family, and he was making a profound academic impact while struggling to make ends meet. I count few moments more precious than the one when I was able to hand him a $1000 check and he told me he couldn’t express how much it also meant to his wife and son.

And on my first Mother’s Day as an alumna, I’m thinking about them—the incredible student mothers and parents I met throughout my college career. I realize now even my small-scale organizing had a profound impact on the lives of people whose courage in the face of adversity remains, in my mind, unparalleled. And I realize now how easily all of us can make an impact.

Jolkona is the epitome of making our small drops add up to create a ripple of change. And as you celebrate this Mother’s Day with your loved ones, I ask that you look carefully at what you can do. Perhaps you can elevate Haitian women from “poorest of poor,” provide healthcare for Nepalese women, or prevent postpartum depression for mothers in Japan.

We no longer need to fear the overwhelming inability to impart positive global change—the answer is now at our fingertips.

On Mother’s Day, find and give to one of over 15 projects which supports mothers and their infants the world over by going to our projects page and filtering your search by selecting “Improve Maternal Health” or “Reduce Child Mortality”.

Or give one of our Mother’s Day gift cards to a Mother you love – you choose the amount and the recipient, they choose the project, they see the impact. Click here or on the image below:





I was born in Morocco near the Algerian border in the small city of Oujda. It was an unassuming city, dusty and tourist free (for good reason). I was the last of six children. The location of my birth was in my oldest brother’s bedroom, which also served as our classroom – and now a maternity ward. I was born around 3.30pm, just in time for afternoon tea. The people present were my Mum and my Dad.

Knowing my birth was imminent, my father had taken my unruly siblings to the park with our visiting grandmother. My delivery was quick and problem free. So quick, in fact, that my meant-to-be midwife, an American neighbor of ours, was my first visitor. Dad rushed back to the park in our bright, beat-up orange VW van and, so the story goes, turned up triumphantly exclaiming, “It’s a boy!” Upon realization that she was still the only girl amongst her siblings, my sister cried. I have since forgiven her for that. (And clearly from the way she’s clutching me in the photo below, she got over her disappointment without much difficulty).

When I reflect on the story of my birth, I feel a certain simplicity and sacredness –  just my parents and I, alone together in a small bedroom in a faraway place. I feel immensely fortunate. Fortunate that both mother and child were safe. It helped that my parents were doctors and knew what they were doing. Fortunate that I was loved and protected. I had siblings that doted on me, a father who worked hard to keep a roof over us with food on the table, and a mother who cherished and adored me.

Story vs. statistics

But why am I writing this? I’m writing this because with Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday May 13th, we want to emphasize the importance of story, especially individual story. At Jolkona it is necessary that we talk about statistics, of course. Statistics give us the overarching picture. But what fuels the fire that drives us is the story behind each statistic – the individual. This is why we give you, the philanthropist, not just the chance to change statistics, but to actually glimpse into the life of the individual behind the statistic by seeing exactly how your donation makes an impact.

Mother’s Day projects

We have over fifteen projects at Jolkona that support mothers globally by improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. One such project is run by our partner MADRE. MADRE works with groups of Palestinian and Israeli midwives to help women safely deliver their babies in the West Bank and Gaza. Your gift of $50 provides a safe birth kit containing medical supplies for delivering newborns. With $50 another statistic is reversed and a story is changed.

The story of my birth is a happy one. Sadly, though, there are so many mothers – millions globally – whose stories of motherhood are weighed down with profound uncertainty and fear, or worse, mired in tragedy and grief. Help us change that.

For Mother’s Day give the gift of impact; change one story:

  1. Go to our project page here
  2. Filter your search by selecting Improve Maternal Health or Reduce Child Mortality
  3. Choose a project
  4. Give
  5. See how you changed a life


The Seattle Foundation is launching its annual GiveBig campaign today, and over these next 24 hours you can have your chance to make an impact – and increase it! The campaign is supporting over 1,300 nonprofit organizations by enlarging donations made to each of those organizations today. Needless to say, we’re delighted to be one of them!

The stretch

Give to Jolkona through the Seattle Foundation’s webpage between midnight and 11.59pm (Pacific Time) today, May 2 2012, and you will receive a pro-rated portion of the matching funds from their “stretch pool”. The amount of “stretch” depends on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBig day. For example, if Jolkona receives 3% of the total donations during GiveBig, then it will receive 3% percent of the stretch pool.

Put more simply: the more you give to Jolkona, the more the Seattle foundation will match.

The Kona fund: help us help others

We have over 120 projects at Jolkona. And today we’re asking you to support one of our very own, the Kona fund. By giving to Jolkona via the Seattle Foundation you enable us to continue our mission: to reach out to and connect a new generation of philanthropists with our global partners and their projects through our innovative microgiving online platform.

Give Back. GiveBig

Here’s your chance to help us help others. Give to Jolkona via the Seattle Foundation webpage and watch your donation stretch. To do so, follow the very simple instructions:

  1. Go to Jolkona’page on The Seattle Foundation website today between 12am and 11.59pm (PT). (To be eligible for stretch funds, your donation must be made through The Seattle Foundation website).
  2. Click on ‘Donate Now”. Donations can only be made by credit card. Give a little – or a lot – and watch it stretch!
  3. Tell others about your donation through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Encourage your friends to GiveBIG to Jolkona.

Stretch your donation; enlarge the love. GiveBig.


At Jolkona we believe online philanthropy is the future of giving. Our online model has been at the heart of what we’re about since we began. It’s important to us not just because it’s hip (though it is that as well), but because online giving is incredibly effective and powerful. Our ultimate goal is impact – more of it. Going on online and making philanthropy more accessible and more transparent, we believe, is the best way to see this impact achieved.

This week we’re highlighting two great events in our calender: Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig (blog post to follow tomorrow) and World Give Day. To encourage giving to these two campaigns, we wanted to present to you the raw facts about how successful online and social giving truly is.

This infographic was created by the brilliant Blackbuad, a software and services provider to nonprofits:

[click to enlarge infographic]