2013: Philanthropy and Resolutions

It would seem, as people, we like new beginnings – the clean slate, the fresh start, the frisson that accompanies the chance to embark on something different. The New Year is an apropos example. Cometh January 1st, cometh the renaissance of resolutions: the I won’ts, the I wills, the musts, the musn’ts, the 10 step guides to any goal you could ever think of, and so forth and so forth. We all want a second chance (or perhaps it’s our twentieth).

Now resolutions are fine and well (some, I daresay, even noble), but they strike me predominantly as an attempt at self-improvement. Essentially we ask ourselves, “How can I make my life better this year?” Again, this is not the worst question one could ask oneself. But I wonder how often, as the New Year chimes in, we pose the question, “How can I make someone else’s life better this year?” And I wonder what our lives – or more to the point, what other people’s lives – would look like if we did.

I think philanthropy asks us a very similar question. But it’s not a guilt trip; it’s an honest, straight forward question. With all the abundant resources I have – my time, my money, my talent – what can I set aside to help someone else? I wonder if in 2013 you will ask yourself this question – and be brave enough to act upon it. I wonder if, amongst all your personal goals and good intentions, you will give philanthropy a chance. At Jolkona we certainly hope so.

It’s interesting, after having worked at Jolkona for over a year now, one of the words I associate most strongly with philanthropy is story. I sincerely believe that understanding and experiencing this is aspect of story is essential to philanthropy and other acts of altruism. Really what happens when you engage in philanthropy is you engage in someone’s story – for the good. One way we try to show you this at Jolkona is by sharing with you the journey of your donation and its impact. A life is changed, someone is given a second chance, and a new chapter begins; a chapter you, the donor, have the privilege of helping author. Through philanthropy narratives are interwoven.

So when you’re standing on the threshold of 2014 at some New Year’s Eve party and someone asks you about your year, I wonder if you will bore them to death with the story of all your accomplishments, or if you will share the stories of the lives you helped change, the stories which now you’re a part of. I know who I’d rather be talking to.

If you’re interested in using your time and talents to help others, email

If you’re interested in using your money to help others, find a project you like here and donate.


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  1. Jill Peterson / January 16, 2013

    Donating money is great and very helpful! However, people like you and your company miss the mark! Get off your butts and volunteer! Give of yourself that is giving back truly means! Not opening a checkbook and bragging you donated!

  2. Gabriel St. John / January 16, 2013

    Thank you for your response. Just to make some things clear, we are not a company; we are a non-profit organisation that, actually, runs almost entirely on volunteers (I myself am one of them). Hence volunteering time and talent, as I suggested in this article, is in fact central to our ethos of giving back. Furthermore, we are not saying you should brag about giving – that is certainly missing the mark, I couldn’t agree more. Rather, it is about a level of compassion that impels us to share the stories we’ve become a part of.

  3. Nadia / January 16, 2013

    Great comments and great article! And I agree, it’s not about only giving money or time or bragging about helping people but it’s about giving back however you can and then simply sharing the stories to inspire others. Sharing these stories often help create role models for being civically engaged. I think compassion is contagious and if we can all share enough stories of good actions, whether it’s donating or volunteering often times other people just need that short story or inspiration for them to do a good deed themselves.

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