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Summer solstice was a beauty in Seattle – blue skies, a balmy evening, with a glorious sunset to follow, extending long and luminous into dusk. It was the ideal setting for us to host our Give Together launch party at the South Lake Union Discovery CenterThe occasion had all the ingredients for a perfect party: great food and drink, swag bags, a photo booth, stellar attendees, and generous sponsors. Rest assured, it did not disappoint.

We were so thrilled to have everyone attend, and were delighted to see people having a scream of a time, making new connections, and learning about our new giving program. We truly appreciated the support.

Discover Give Together

We wanted to say thank you

None of this could have happened without the hard work and generosity of our sponsors and volunteers.

Our first thanks goes to our awesome sponsor Postmates. In case you weren’t there, you simply have to know about these guys. Postmates is a Seattle delivery provider, with one incredible service: with Postmates, every restaurant and store in Seattle now delivers – in under an hour – to wherever you are. Download their app here, and use it to order anything in the city from 8am-midnight every day. You can order food from your favorite restaurant, a new dress for a last-minute date, or courier an important document across the city. They work as a traditional courier service as well!

Our next thanks goes to Tagboard. Tagboard is an awesome tool that allows anyone to search hashtags across networks, including Twitter, Instagram, App.net, Vine, Google +, and Facebook. With tagboards you see the whole conversation, across networks, making them the perfect hub for social media. We used their platform at the event to tie collate and display our #GiveTogether hashtag. Find out more info about Tagboard here.

We also want to thank the following sponsors for their generous donations and for helping make the evening such a success: Haiku Deck, Yelp, Papaya, Araya’s Place, That Brown Girl Cooks, and Golazo.

A huge thank you must also go our brilliant friends at Socializing For Social Change who helped us put on yet another epic event.

Of course, another big thank you goes to our stalwart volunteers, who gave their time and energy to plan, organize, and execute what was a wonderful evening: Chi, Rekha, Pragya, Aswath, Linh, Dhanya, Nancy, Daljit, Mari, Nadia and Adnan.

Thank you everyone for discovering Give Together with us, supporting us, and spreading the word!

Learn more about Give Together and sign up here. You can also keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Summer solstice was a beauty in Seattle – blue skies, a balmy evening, with a glorious sunset to follow, extending long and luminous into dusk. It was the ideal setting for us to host our Give Together launch party at the South Lake Union Discovery CenterThe occasion had all the ingredients for a perfect party: great food and drink, swag bags, a photo booth, stellar attendees, and generous sponsors. Rest assured, it did not disappoint.

We were so thrilled to have everyone attend, and were delighted to see people having a scream of a time, making new connections, and learning about our new giving program. We truly appreciated the support.

Discover Give Together

We wanted to say thank you

None of this could have happened without the hard work and generosity of our sponsors and volunteers.

Our first thanks goes to our awesome sponsor Postmates. In case you weren’t there, you simply have to know about these guys. Postmates is a Seattle delivery provider, with one incredible service: with Postmates, every restaurant and store in Seattle now delivers – in under an hour – to wherever you are. Download their app here, and use it to order anything in the city from 8am-midnight every day. You can order food from your favorite restaurant, a new dress for a last-minute date, or courier an important document across the city. They work as a traditional courier service as well!

Our next thanks goes to Tagboard. Tagboard is an awesome tool that allows anyone to search hashtags across networks, including Twitter, Instagram, App.net, Vine, Google +, and Facebook. With tagboards you see the whole conversation, across networks, making them the perfect hub for social media. We used their platform at the event to tie collate and display our #GiveTogether hashtag. Find out more info about Tagboard here.

We also want to thank the following sponsors for their generous donations and for helping make the evening such a success: Haiku Deck, Yelp, Papaya, Araya’s Place, That Brown Girl Cooks, and Golazo.

A huge thank you must also go our brilliant friends at Socializing For Social Change who helped us put on yet another epic event.

Of course, another big thank you goes to our stalwart volunteers, who gave their time and energy to plan, organize, and execute what was a wonderful evening: Chi, Rekha, Pragya, Aswath, Linh, Dhanya, Nancy, Daljit, Mari, Nadia and Adnan.

Thank you everyone for discovering Give Together with us, supporting us, and spreading the word!

Learn more about Give Together and sign up here. You can also keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Each month we will be helping you get to know our partners and their projects a little better with our Partner Spotlight posts. The first in our Education series is our super cool partner, Empower Playgrounds. They are based in Ghana and harness kinetic energy from school playgrounds to power LED lamps, which the children can then take home after school to study. Told you they were cool. We caught up with them, shot them a few questions, and here’s what they had to say about who they are, what they do, and why you should get involved in our Give Together program and donate to their project.

What is the inspiration behind your organization?

The inspiration behind Empower Playgrounds is that there is energy all around us, everyday, and if captured, this energy can empower tomorrow’s leaders and light their way towards achieving their fullest potentials. 

What’s the story behind your project?

Empower Playgrounds Inc (EPI) was started after our founder, Ben Markham, and his wife, Julie, who lived in Ghana for 18 months as humanitarian missionaries. While here, Ben often held meetings in rural school houses and noticed how dark it got early in the evenings and wondered how students were able to study or read in their homes with such conditions. He was also struck by the simplicity of play equipment available to children, usually nothing more than old bike tires and tin cans that would be turned into rudimentary cars. Ben decided to try and solve both of these problems and developed the electricity-generating merry-go-round we use today. 

Kinetic merry-go-round

How did you become connected with Jolkona

EPI’s executive director, Chris Cannon, was in Seattle visiting NGOs and social ventures with a group of MPA students from Brigham Young University when he learned about the innovative fundraising and advocacy work Jolkona was doing. And after talking with Nadia he quickly decided that this was a partnership worth pursuing and that he hoped would help EPI fulfill its mission of providing the light of opportunity to students of Ghana.

Can you tell us a bit more about your project and how it’s going currently?

Empower Playgrounds is currently operating in nearly 40 schools, providing light to over 6,000 students in some of Ghana’s most deprived areas. We continue to gain support from individuals concerned about the quality of education students are receiving in these deprived areas and by groups working to provide similar opportunities. We are hopeful that this year will see wider expansion, both within Ghana and to similar countries, as we gain more momentum and work with a tried and tested system and wonderful corporate partners like Goal Zero and Playworld Systems, Inc. 

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to engender?

Our vision for the future is to have educated parents, especially mothers, in every village who will instill a love of learning in their children. This next generation of children will be much better suited to tackle the generational triggers of poverty and inequality that we as outsiders are often unable to define or solve. We are beginning to see this change take place in some of our earliest schools in the form of increased school completion, attendance, and national test scores. 

So say I give $50 to the project, can you explain a little further the impact that is achieved?

For $50 you provide a group of students a portable LED lantern powered by play! This lantern will provide 40 hours of reading and study time with each charge and is expected to last around 5 years, meaning that they are ensured the light of opportunity for just $10 per year!

Ghanaian students

We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

One of our students, Gabriel, is just one example of how hard students are working to rise above adverse conditions and better themselves in order to better their communities. At 16 Gabriel is the oldest student in his 6th grade class, towering above his classmates and even some of his teachers, however his meek demeanor shines in his bright eyes and constantly beaming smile. This same smile is somewhat out of place when he starts talking about his life and the conditions he struggles with everyday.

He has lived alone in the tiny village of Terhey for several years after his parents moved away to look for work, taking with them his younger siblings. His weekends and evenings are spent doing odd jobs in order to provide for himself: cutting wood for charcoal, helping local farmers, fixing bicycles. And what he earns from these odd jobs he often sends to his siblings so they can buy books and pay for school uniforms, leaving himself to rely on the generosity of his favorite teacher.

Gabriel is now in middle school, still older than his classmates but at least now the same height, and well on his way towards High School. He is a success in the village of Terhey because he is a trendsetter in a community that often sees little use for school and its postponed payoff when so many competing needs have such immediacy. He is one of the lights shining in darkness that makes Ghana such a trailblazer in West Africa.

Such a great story. So, in a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

With so many organizations and nonprofits doing good things, it’s often hard to choose between so many good options. At EPI we strive to be among the best. We do this by maintaining focus on a single cause – one that we feel is at the root of so many other problems. 

With a generation of educated people Ghana will be filled with home-grown solvers and thinkers who can tackle the difficult problems that plague so many developing countries, resulting in long-lasting and effective change that will benefit the world.

Sign up or sign in to Give Together and donate to Empowerment Playground. Empower tomorrow’s leaders and light their way towards achieving their fullest potentials today.

Want to keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy? Follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Let’s start off this post with a cartoon:

educational-system-comic

This cartoon brilliantly illustrates two points about the American Educational System:

1) Treating every student the same does not create an equal playing field,

and

2) bridging the Opportunity Gap doesn’t require a change from students, but a change from the educational system itself.

The Penguin and the Fish

Expecting a penguin and a fish to climb a tree is just as a preposterous as thinking that treating every child the same creates equal opportunity. Fun fact: it doesn’t, it actually does the opposite. Treating every student the same doesn’t factor in the amount of Cultural Capital every child brings into the classroom. Bluntly stated, if you don’t help the children who are already behind, you are subscribing to a front row seat to their failure. Students who aren’t given the extra help they need will most likely fall behind, while their counterparts will succeed because they can keep up with the material that is being taught. Treating every student the same will only reinforce the already unequal education practices the U.S. already has in place.

What Needs to Change?

On that grim note, there is hope. In order for real change to occur in our biased and unequal education system, change needs to come from the top. The educational institution itself must change in order for all students to have the same opportunities as their neighbor.  Although I fully recognize that what I’m stating is much easier said than done, if America wants to truly offer the American dream to every American, our educational institution has to change.

If you want to help students who are behind in school both in the U.S. and abroad, check out these two projects:  TAF (Technology Access Foundation) is helping close the digital divide for students who don’t have access to computers and the internet. If you want to help globally, check out our project that is helping students in India get an education they deserve. If you want to support any other of Jolkona’s projects, check out Give Together.

 You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

 

 

 

 

 

Give Together is live! And our opening feature issue is Education1005044_10151427376962396_1217417665_n

We have three projects that significantly help both teachers and students internationally move towards a brighter future. Give Together today, choosing your favorite project and pooling your contributions with others who share your same interests.

Here is an introduction to our featured projects:

Empower Burmese Women to Become Effective Teachers

Educational Empowerment supports education in SE Asia, especially in Myanmar. A third of children in the country are unable to access education at all, and 70% of those who do never move beyond primary school. Educational Empowerment has made it their goal to fix this deficit by providing training and educational materials to teachers (90% of whom are women) in poverty stricken communities in Myanmar.

This project not only enhances the education of young children, providing them greater opportunities in the future, but it also empowers the women who teach, allowing them to be more effective in the classroom, and prepare them better for their careers. Both teachers and children face poverty and unequal opportunity. The $250 fundraising goal for Educational Empowerment will purchase the necessary materials to contribute to the essential development of primary school children, and allow their teachers to become confident  role models.

Providing Play-Powered Lanterns for Rural Students in Ghana

Empower Playgrounds, Inc. is an innovative company that installs playground equipment for schools in Ghana, which charge special lanterns that students can take home with them after school to study. In most villages in Ghana, there isn’t a reliable source of power. The village of Ahiatroga, is no different. This makes it difficult for students to continue their education outside of the classroom, which is essential for increasing the quality of their education.

The $500 fundraising goal will install a merry-go-round for Ahiatroga’s school, charging portable LED lanterns for students to take home and study with. Empower Playgrounds, Inc. has already installed 40 of these innovative merry-go-rounds, benefitting almost 10,000 students in Ghana. Donate today, and add the students of Ahiatroga to this growing number.

Fund the Education of Underserved Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) is an organization in King County, Washington, that is working on improving the STEM education for communities of color, better equipping underserved students to enter college, and helping them pursue careers in fields of science and technology. Their summer program provides camps focused on a number of topics, such as robotics, aviation and design. The students attend a field trip, and present their work at the end of the session.

The fundraising goal of 2 scholarships at $350 will allow some of the highest need students from White Center Washington, where as many as 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, to have an in-depth, and hands on experience with a STEM field of their interest. The summer program will supplement their education, preparing them for college and science and tech based career.

Donate today, and use Give Together to pick one of these organizations and improve education worldwide!

You can help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on TwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Today is re-launch day at Jolkona, and we are ecstatic to share our new website and new program Give Together.  If you don’t know already, Give Together is our new giving campaign that encourages you and your friends to “give together.”

Let’s Give Together

Give Together is a program that connects you and your friends to trusted organizations and projects that you can support.  The best way you can support the organizations and projects that you love is to subscribe to a monthly donation. These monthly donations start at just 10 dollars, and Jolkona will send you updates on how exactly your donation has made a difference. With these updates, we hope you will share with your community how your small donation has made a difference, encouraging others to donate as well. If you want learn more about Give Together, please read the details here.

Give Together’s new campaign will not affect any of the current projects going on in our project list. If a monthly donation isn’t an option for you, a one time micro-donation to one of our over 50 projects are still a great way to help those in need. Whether that is donating money to help provide meals for a rural High School in Ecuador, or donating to help get  Education to Girls in Liberia, any donation will have lasting effects. Donate today!

Want to Party?

Jolkona will be having a launch party, celebrating the coming of “Give Together.” We are throwing this party with our close friends at Socializing for Social Change, at the South Lake Union Discovery Center on June 21st. Tickets are $15 pre-purchased, or $20 at the door. You can check out the official Facebook page, and  follow the event on Twitter, #GiveTogether. Make sure to look at the new layout of our website!

If you want to learn more about Jolkona, please feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

One of the big questions around philanthropy, is how much money really makes a difference? Most of us are aware of the kinds of gifts that are thousands if not millions of dollars. If you can only spare $15 or $50, how much will your gift really accomplish?

While this is certainly a struggle for the potential donor, it is also a concern for those who are trying to fundraise. How do you convince donors that their gift is meaningful, and create a relationship between them and a cause? Georgette Lemuth, president of the National Catholic Development Conference has answered some of these questions explaining that, it is not the amount of a gift that makes an impact, but it’s potential for transformation.

In a discussion with The NonProfit Times Ms. Lemuth discussed what allows both the donor and the recipient to benefit, or be transformed from a gift.

  • The donor responds to the “case statement” of need from the community, and the organization’s ability to meet that need effectively and efficiently;
  • The donor is compelled by a story that illustrates the community’s need and the organization’s effective and efficient response;
  • The donor makes a commitment to become part of that response, recognizing that their gift from their excess financial capacity has the power to further our organization’s mission in a meaningful way. By the way, the donor gets to decide what is “excess financial capacity,” not fundraisers.
  • The donor’s excess financial capacity is effectively and efficiently “transformed” into food for the hungry, clothes for the poor, or medical treatment for the sick.
  • The donor is not only thanked for their gift, but also receives reports, as specifically as possible, regarding how the gift has transformed the community.
  • If you think a gift is completed when the check clears, you’re a tax collector, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the receipt is sent, you’re an accountant, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the donor sees what their gift has done, you’re a “transformational” fund­raiser.

From The NonProfit Times

Here at Jolkona, impact is central to our mission in changing philanthropy. By providing low cost donation opportunities, and clear proof of impact, we make it easy for your gifts to be transformational.

Through Esperança, just $16 will provide medical supplies for a surgical team to treat health issues in rural indigenous communities in Bolivia. This improves and saves lives for farmers who are too poor and remote to seek medical attention themselves. In addition, the volunteer surgical teams often provide training for local clinics.

Through MADRE, a donation of just $30 provides training for a woman farmer in East Sudan. This ensures that she has access to basic education, and can support her family in an environment where 40% of children suffer from malnutrition. In addition, responsible farming practices counteract the effects of climate change.

These are each amazingly high impact and transformational donation opportunities, providing a significant service, and you receive proof of impact. To transform the lives of people in need, and your own experience as a philanthropist, donate today!

You can help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

One of the big questions around philanthropy, is how much money really makes a difference? Most of us are aware of the kinds of gifts that are thousands if not millions of dollars. If you can only spare $15 or $50, how much will your gift really accomplish?

While this is certainly a struggle for the potential donor, it is also a concern for those who are trying to fundraise. How do you convince donors that their gift is meaningful, and create a relationship between them and a cause? Georgette Lemuth, president of the National Catholic Development Conference has answered some of these questions explaining that, it is not the amount of a gift that makes an impact, but it’s potential for transformation.

In a discussion with The NonProfit Times Ms. Lemuth discussed what allows both the donor and the recipient to benefit, or be transformed from a gift.

  • The donor responds to the “case statement” of need from the community, and the organization’s ability to meet that need effectively and efficiently;
  • The donor is compelled by a story that illustrates the community’s need and the organization’s effective and efficient response;
  • The donor makes a commitment to become part of that response, recognizing that their gift from their excess financial capacity has the power to further our organization’s mission in a meaningful way. By the way, the donor gets to decide what is “excess financial capacity,” not fundraisers.
  • The donor’s excess financial capacity is effectively and efficiently “transformed” into food for the hungry, clothes for the poor, or medical treatment for the sick.
  • The donor is not only thanked for their gift, but also receives reports, as specifically as possible, regarding how the gift has transformed the community.
  • If you think a gift is completed when the check clears, you’re a tax collector, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the receipt is sent, you’re an accountant, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the donor sees what their gift has done, you’re a “transformational” fund­raiser.

From The NonProfit Times

Here at Jolkona, impact is central to our mission in changing philanthropy. By providing low cost donation opportunities, and clear proof of impact, we make it easy for your gifts to be transformational.

Through Esperança, just $16 will provide medical supplies for a surgical team to treat health issues in rural indigenous communities in Bolivia. This improves and saves lives for farmers who are too poor and remote to seek medical attention themselves. In addition, the volunteer surgical teams often provide training for local clinics.

Through MADRE, a donation of just $30 provides training for a woman farmer in East Sudan. This ensures that she has access to basic education, and can support her family in an environment where 40% of children suffer from malnutrition. In addition, responsible farming practices counteract the effects of climate change.

These are each amazingly high impact and transformational donation opportunities, providing a significant service, and you receive proof of impact. To transform the lives of people in need, and your own experience as a philanthropist, donate today!

You can help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Change is in the air – and has been for quite a while at Jolkona HQ here in downtown Seattle. We’ve been busy getting ready to launch two new and very significant changes to the way we operate. The first we’re announcing today – our new giving program, Give Together, which launches later this week on June 14th!

Give Together explained

Give Together is a giving program which helps you discover trusted organizations you can give to on a monthly basis, allowing you to pool your donations with others who share your interests and passions. Thereby, you amplify the impact of your contributions with your community. Each month you learn about a new cause and 3 new projects which are tackling that issue. During the month, you choose your favorite project, donate, and watch as the contribution pool grows. As ever, our commitment to maximum impact and transparency means 100% of your donations goes to your chosen project and you will receive an impact report showing how your donations made a difference.

Getting started simply means signing up for a monthly donation level, which starts at just $10. Each month you will automatically get charged that same recurring donation amount according to the project you choose. And don’t worry, if you don’t like being a part of Give Together anymore, you can always cancel your membership anytime!

 

Putting community back into giving

Give Together is exciting because it’s about a community of givers. It means the experience of giving can be a shared one, shared with those who have your same passion and interests. Give Together is exciting because it’s about discovery and learning. You will learn in depth about a new issue every month. Through our blog, you will hear from the organizations themselves and their projects. You will also hear from our volunteers about their experiences and opinions regarding each issue. Finally, Give Together is exciting because it takes the guesswork out of giving.

From a personal perspective, what I love the most about Give Together is this movement of online philanthropy towards community. Undoubtedly, the internet has been an indispensable tool to philanthropy. But, there can be a certain amount of disconnect in the conventional method of “click to donate”; a disconnect that would seem to stem from the lack of engagement in a shared experience with other people, which is where philanthropy has always had its roots. Our Give Together program responds to that disconnect by placing community back into the online giving experience through shared interests, mutual goals, and the pooling of donations. I think what were doing here is really unique, exciting, and innovative.

Give Together launch party

To mark and celebrate its arrival, we’re hosting a shindig with our friends at Socializing for Social Change. The fun takes place at the South Lake Union Discovery Center on June 21st and will include music, drinks, noshes, swag bags and more! Tickets are $15 pre-purchase or $20 at the door. Doors are at 6.30pm. Be sure to:

  • Mark your calendar and tell your friends! The Facebook Discover Giving Together Event page is a great way to promote the event and invite your friends!
  • Spread the word! Through social media tweet about this event! #GiveTogether
  • Interested in joining Give Together as one of the first members to participate? Commit to signing up and again, share the info with others!

We look forward to sharing Give Together with you soon and hope you will join and be a part of our new community!

Want to keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Google has taken a break from mapping the world, making cars drive themselves, and creating glasses which capture of every. This time to support a good cause: helping nonprofits connect with potential donors. Google created One Today, a groundbreaking app that allows users to donate a single dollar to their favorite nonprofit. One Today’s slogan is, “Do a little, Change a lot.”

One Today Google

How One Today Changes Everything

One Today is groundbreaking in two ways:

1. It makes users aware of more projects going on around the world.

2. It makes donating social. (We have already written about the importance of giving socially. Read about it here).

This app brings to light more projects than ever before, because any user can access the app from their cell phone. The app has a feature that allows the user to learn about a new cause everyday. Knowing about more causes can result in more donations.

Probably the best part about One Today is that you can match your friends dollar donation with a push of a button. This added feature gives further incentive for one to share with their friends where they have donated money, in order to get more donations toward their favorite nonprofit. In addition to these two great features, One Today informs the user upfront exactly where the donation will go to. If the user knows this information, they are not only more likely to donate on the spot, but more likely to donate again in the future.

The App Itself

As of today, the app has been reviewed 270 times and has been rated 4.9 out of 5.0 stars from the users. The app can be downloaded to your favorite Android device here. Most of the feedback has been positive:

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 3.34.08 PM

(This screenshot comes from the Google Play Website)

At Jolkona, we love any company that gives back. In the same spirit as One Today, Jolkona also has a project list where any user can give daily. If you are interested, please look through our project list. We have over fifty projects world wide, differing from planting trees in Honduras, to providing clean water for people in Kenya. Like One Today, Jolkona believes in the power of small donations from a number of inspired people.

You can help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

GET INVOLVED!