In preparation for our annual Corks & Forks fundraising event, our team envisioned an amazing event with all fundraising elements- silent auction, live auction and program to highlight and illustrate all of the wonderful work Jolkona does. As the planning continued, we knew the elements of the evening’s program had to include a media piece about Jolkona. For the guests who were familiar with our organization and for the guests who were getting to know us, we needed a video to encompass all parts of Jolkona.

Enter Lucas Gregor, new Jolkona intern, fresh out of college and willing to take the lead on writing, shooting and editing Jolkona’s first impact video. For weeks, he dedicated his time to shooting in various locations from the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture park to Cal Anderson park on Capitol Hill to the Jolkona office downtown. With every part of the video from scouting locations, to bringing confidence and empathy to the video participants to editing, Lucas displayed passion and ease. The video encompasses testimonies from Jolkona partners, donors, volunteers and a board member to highlight what giving is all about. Here is Lucas’ brilliant work and final video:

In addition to giving over a hundred hours in creating the Jolkona impact video, Lucas is always available to help with other volunteer needs. In the month of October, Lucas volunteered at the Corks & Forks event, manipulating the media for the evening’s program. He also was a stellar bar tender at Jolkona’s Microsoft Giving Campaign’s international fashion show A Night of Fashion and Giving. Even with a last minute request, Lucas is always willing to help others and to be available to support Jolkona.

“Lucas is easy going, dedicated, and has an eye for creating great videos. He has been an amazing asset to the Jolkona team over the last six months. One of the first projects he worked on was our Volunteer Dancing video which was an editing project piecing together videos from around the world with our volunteers dancing while visiting our partners. The goal was to inspire more people to get involved with volunteering and he did an amazing job. Lucas’s internship is coming to an end and we’re sad to have him go but are truly grateful for all the creative storytelling he has helped Jolkona with in just a short period and we wish him all the luck in his future endeavors.” – Nadia Mahmud (Jolkona CEO)

“Lucas was a gem to work with from the start! The first time I met him, I showed him our dance clips – there were more than 20 clips, filmed to different songs, different tempos especially when we couldn’t hear the music, and often had shaky hands as our volunteer cameramen. I thought he would need at least 3 weeks to get this sorted out but he came back in a week with a rough cut that blew all of us away. The quality of his work continues with the video he made for corks and forks and I’m excited to see his artistic abilities continue to grow as Jolkona grows!” – Nancy Xu (Jolkona Volunteer)

Lucas has easily become part of Jolkona’s amazing volunteer team and we are so very thankful for his time and commitment!  Thanks so much Lucas!

Interested in being a Jolkona volunteer? Drop us a line at You can also keep up with us on  FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

Last week I had the privilege of representing Jolkona at the White House Summit hosted by the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and where people such as the Founder of Meet-up, and representatives from Rock the Vote, Echoing Green, Code for America (to name but a few) gathered to help the Administration answer the question: What should the blue print for citizen innovation look like and how can the White House best support it.

In its essence, the goal of this invite-only summit led by the Director of the Administration, Jonathan Greenblatt, was to understand from top innovators working in the sector how their administration can best help social innovation scale. I was honored to be a part of the first of hopefully many more discussions to help our country move forward through social innovation and civic engagement.

Here’s five of my top take-aways from the summit:

  1. It is our moment to drive innovative social change to make our country better. Can’t agree more with this theme. We need people, especially young people to step up and support social change so that we’re all better off.
  2. The importance of non-profits for a healthy economy. The non-profit sector is growing and today makes up about 10% of job force.
  3. The importance of participating in civil society with regards to networking, building job skills, trust, community, and ultimately a greater level of economic growth. Networking and being an engaged citizen leads to more opportunities, jobs, and thriving communities.
  4. There seems to be a lack of civic engagement in our country and the biggest challenge is how the White House can help spread enthusiasm and passion to make action more infectious.
  5. It’s possible to do well and do good at the same time, and social enterprises are for-profit models of making change that exemplify this.  In addition, the idea of citizenship is not purely altruistic, but one of self-interest too.  It leads to stronger communities and economic growth if properly executed and understood.

We ended the day with a great discussion on the ways the White House can solve these issues, and here’s a few of my favorite ideas:

  1. Sharing stories of new citizens.  40% of Fortune 500 companies are started by immigrants or children of immigrants. We need to hear more of these stories so everyone can truly embraces new citizens in this country.
  2. Sharing positive stories of citizenship and social innovation around the country. Every day we hear stories of failure and are disillusioned by the power individuals wield. We need to share more positive impact stories to help inspire and re-engage people to get involved.
  3. Leveraging the power of the White House to convene by hosting summits like this around the country to empower local leaders to spread civic engagement in their communities.
  4. Funding should not only be available for evidence-based programs, but we need to take risks and provide more funding for new innovative approaches that have potential to scale and make larger impacts and create more jobs.

We ended the summit energized with the idea that we must all re-commit to building up our citizenship muscle. After an inspiring day with amazing leaders in the non-profit and social innovation space, I left pondering what I could pledge to do to help spread the idea of civic engagement and this is what I decided:

One of the common themes discussed was the power of storytelling and collective action – two things that are absolutely to Jolkona’s mission and model of giving. Sharing powerful stories inspires and engages people to action they would have otherwise not taken part in. In addition  to our featured donor and volunteer posts that share the stories of how individual donors and volunteers are making a huge impact, I’m committed to showcasing stories of how each partner we work with is changing lives with the support of our community. We’ll start featuring two partners a month to really showcase the power small actions and funding can truly make. Hopefully this will inspire even more people to get involved with Jolkona or any other cause that they feel passionate about.

To follow tweets from the summit, search for #WHsummit and #socialinnovaton and tweets my tweets at @nadiamahmud or @gl_weekend who helped facilitate the summit.

To bring a little light to the recent June Gloom, we would like to take a moment to recognize Nancy Xu as this month’s featured volunteer. Nancy is a program manager at Microsoft for the Widows Design Studio and first got involved with Jolkona through the giving campaign events we planned at Microsoft in 2010. She has been a volunteer ever since. Over the years, Nancy has worked on several projects for Jolkona, including partner trip coordination and creative storytelling. However, most recently, Nancy has been working tirelessly with two other stellar volunteers: Punit Java, and Pavan Potaraju on building our first Windows phone app called Change by Jolkona – an innovative mobile app that lets you track the progress of a habit you wish to change while making a positive impact in the world through Jolkona’s diverse range of partner projects. Nancy was in charge of the app design and some of the management behind it. The app will be going live shortly so stay tuned!

Before working on the design for the Windows mobile app, Nancy volunteered on several video projects for Jolkona, including our most recent production for our Hulu PSA. Prior to that, she also helped produce and direct our Kids Give Back video and our short video Why Give. Nancy is a tremendous example of how young professionals can use their passion and professional skill set to give back. By pursuing her passion of storytelling, over the years she has helped Jolkona tell our story and those of our partners. She embodies what volunteering should be about: aligning your skills and passions to make a positive impact and further an organization’s mission.

Here’s what some of our volunteers have said about working with Nancy:

“Nancy is a wonderful volunteer for Jolkona. She has so much passion for her work and has helped develop amazing media campaigns, such as spearheading the new Jolkona PSA spot for Hulu. Despite having a full-time job at Microsoft, she pledges much of her time actively volunteering and participating in so many events and partner visits. Nancy is an indispensible asset and Jolkona is lucky to have her on the team.”
Rekha Ravindran

“Nancy is a priceless asset to Jolkona. She has boundless passion for Jolkona and we have always been able to count on her to get the job done – and how! She is a big reason for our successful partner visits in East Africa and South America in the last 2 years – it would not have been possible without her! Her significant contribution to our Hulu video, other video editing projects, and the case study (in business club style) she did with the students at Generation Rwanda in December 2010 exemplify her extraordinary ability to take on a challenge and do it well!
Working with Nancy over the past 2+ years has been an incredible experience. We are lucky to have her as part of Jolkona!”
Pavan Potaraju

“Nancy is super passionate about her video/media work for Jolkona. I had the opportunity to travel with Nancy to South America, especially in Peru where it was just the two of us. She is deeply understanding and respectful of other cultures, as well as compassionate. She is also delightfully friendly and blissfully easy to get along with. When we interacted with a Partner in Peru, Nancy was exceptionally well-prepared, exploring all angles of their work with her intelligent and well-thought out questions – I was most impressed!”
Chi Do

One of the things I’ve come to admire and respect most about Nancy over the years is her fastidious organization and supreme ability to execute on projects, which I’m sure she’s garnered from her Program Manager position at Microsoft. These skills have been clearly demonstrated on all the Jolkona projects she has volunteered with. Jolkona is remarkably fortunate to have the dedication and support of so many amazing volunteers, and Nancy is no exception. Thank you, Nancy, for being one of our rockstar volunteers and a stalwart advocate for Jolkona.

Are you in interested in volunteering? Do you want to use your passions and skills to help build a new generation of philanthropists? Find out more information by emailing us at You can also keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.



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!


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.

I first met Melinda through one of our other volunteers back in 2009 when Jolkona was still being run out of my kitchen. Melinda loved what Jolkona stood for and immediately started off volunteering on a few projects, and then quickly jumped into joining the leadership team as the Director of Events. During her time in that role, she was in charge of overseeing a brilliantly successful Microsoft Giving Campaign, played a key part in the structure and direction of Jolkona as an early decision maker on our leadership team, and helped coordinate some of our partnered events that year. She then joined the communications team as our Marketing Communications Content Manager where she employed her laser sharp editing skills to help with content creation and marketing. This year she has mainly been working on a project to help our website tell the stories of our partners better, and we are excited to start intrdoucing updates in the next few months that she herself spearheaded. Melinda recently relocated to DC so we’re sad we don’t get to have her physical presence around as much; however, she is still a strong part of the Jolkona team and community and continues to volunteer remotely on several marketing and content projects for us.

Melinda also played a major role in some of our partnerships with Waggener Edstrom, including our pro bono ideation session and two matching campaigns. What I personally love about Melinda is her passion for making a difference, her organization skills, and her irresistibly charming and light-hearted personality.

Here’s what a few of our volunteers had to say about their time working with her:

“Melinda is a tremendous asset to the Jolkona team. She stepped up and took the role of Director of Events in 2010 and provided invaluable direction to the team. She always encourages new ideas. She is very meticulous and organized. It is a delightful to work with Melinda on any project – she just knows how to get the job done perfectly and on time. To sum it up, if I had to make a list of people I would like to work with on a project, Melinda would definitely be on that list!” – Pavan

“Melinda is one of the most dedicated and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. She pours her heart and soul into every project for Jolkona and loves to make a difference for her partners and the organization.”
– Aaron Alhadeff

“Working with Melinda is always incredible – she has an extraordinary knack for developing compelling stories that resonate with our donors and audiences and also is aware of how to work within the limited resources of a start-up NGO. She brings a wealth of information and experience to her volunteer work at Jolkona and we are lucky to have her as part of our team.” – Seema

Thank you Melinda for your passion, leadership, and contribution to Jolkona over the last few years.  Jolkona couldn’t be where we are today without you and we are honored to have your continued support and dedication to our cause. We hope you have gotten just as much out of volunteering with as you’ve given in.

Have you volunteered for a non-profit? Do you think you get more or less out of what you put in?

During the 20th century, the state of Washington built a reputation for its airplanes, timber, software and coffee. What will carry us through the next century are products tied to an entirely different class of needs: the need for good health, food, shelter, a chance for a better life.

As you know, with over 300 international NGO’s—including the world’s biggest NGO, World Vision, and largest foundation, Gates Foundation—Washington state has become a leader in international development. This year Global Washington, a Seattle based membership based non-profit that promotes the global development sector, wants to put Washington state on the map for this incredible achievement with the help of their 150 member based partners.

This month, if you commuted on a Washington State ferry you may have seen posters promoting the global development sector. If you listen to KPLU or KUOW, you may have heard radio spots highlighting this work. If you’ve traveled on Alaska Airlines recently, you may have read an article about Global Washington and the sector in their in-flight magazine, and if you read the Puget Sound Business Journal you will have seen an ad in this week’s edition highlighting the amazing work of the global development sector in Washington.

Global Action Day is coming: 11.1.11

Global Washington wants to use our collective power to raise awareness about the importance of global development. Together with the Mayor of Seattle they’ve launched an advocacy campaign called “Global Action Day” designed to do two things:

1. Make people aware of the great work coming out of WA state, and

2. Mobilize people to action. Specifically, were urging people to write congress to help protect US Foreign Aid.

To further raise awareness about global development in our state, Global Washington is hosting 2011 Annual Global Washington Conference on 11.1.11 called “Opportunities and Obstacles in Turbulent Times” and I’m honored to be speaking on a panel on the Future of Fundraising. If you’d like to attend, please register for the conference here: Global Washington 2011 Conference: Opportunities and Obstacles in Turbulent Times.

Also, I hope you can help promote global action day to raise awareness about the work all of us in global development do. Visit the Global Action Day website for more info on how to get involved and make sure you tweet using the hashtag: #globalwaday.

Washington: The Global State from Incite on Vimeo.

Credit Karen Ducey

On Monday night, October 3rd, Jolkona competed along side 13 other social innovators at Social Venture Partner’s Social innovation fast pitch for the chance to win a piece of the total prize money worth $170,000. It was a full house at the Fischer Pavilion at the Seattle Center with a crowd of more than 600 people in attendance all coming to hear 5-minute pitches of the top social innovations in Seattle ranging from high school students, college students, and seasoned social entrepreneurs.  Jolkona was honored to be one of 14 groups to pitch that night, and even more honored to have won the $15,000 Social Endeavors Award for our new initiative– licensing our micro-giving platform to help non-profits improve fundraising online.

While the competition was very stressful, it was also a forcing factor to help us get our “pitch” down. I’d like to thank Social Venture Partners and specifically Will Poole and his massive team of volunteers for organizing such a great event.  And I’d like to give a special shoutout to some of the amazing volunteer coaches/mentors that helped me with my pitch:  Susan Bloch, Ken Pawlak, Ted Weiler, and Dan Kranzler.  Thank you for believing in me and in Jolkona’s work and for helping to take our idea to the next level!  And a BIG thank you to all the Jolkona volunteers, board, and advisers that came to support that night.  Last, congrats to all the other winners that night!

Credit: Karen Ducey

It’s been a CRAZY week at Jolkona HQ, with the big win on Monday, all the follow-up from the great connections we made that night, and the start of Microsoft’s and King County’s Giving Campaign Month, but we are energized and excited to be moving forward with our new innovation.

Check out pictures from the event here and read articles about the event posted on the Puget Sound Business Journal and on Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Blog.


Nadia Khawaja Mahmud of Jolkona presenting at Social Innovation Fast Pitch

On Monday, September 19th, Jolkona competed along with 37 quarterfinalists for the chance to advance in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) where nonprofits and social enterprises can win grants/investments from a $170,000 pool of money.

Jolkona co-founders were speaking at a conference this past weekend at Harvard University to launch our NextGen initiative and came straight from the airport to compete at SIFP taking place at Paccar Hall at the University of Washington. After a long day of pitches and deliberations from the judges, we are excited to announce Jolkona was chosen to be present next week at the semi-finals along with 20 other nonprofits and social enterprises for a chance to present at the final event on October 3. Congratulations to all the other winners who advanced to the semi-finals!

If you haven’t purchased your tickets, it should be a fantastic day so we encourage you to attend. Plus, 100% of ticket price is a donation to support the top social innovations in Seattle. Read more about why you should attend and how to get your tickets.

Want to read more about SIFP? Here’s a great article by Rebecca Lovell, one of the SIFP judges: Social Innovation: Goldilocks and doing well by doing good.

Special thanks to Jolkona’s awesome SIFP mentors, Ken Pawlak and Tim Weiler for coaching Jolkona on our pitch and helping us make it to the next round! Also, a big thanks to Jolkona Advisory board member, Susan Bloch for also spending valuable time helping with the “pitch.”

Another round of fine-tuning our pitch is ahead once we receive feedback from the judges. So wish us luck next week and we hope to see you in the audience on the third. Even if Jolkona does not make it to the final round, we are invited to present our idea that day so we hope to see you all there!

Nadia working in the office

On September 1, Jolkona learned that we were one of 54 organizations selected to compete in the quarterfinal round of Seattle’s Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP). Presented by Social Venture Partners, SIFP is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs, local nonprofits and social businesses to receive coaching and mentoring and to compete for more than $170,000 in grants and investments.

This week I attended a pitching workshop hosted and facilitated by SIFP where quarterfinalists had the opportunity to present our five-minute pitches to a panel of mentors and speaking coaches for feedback for the next round. I have to say, preparing a five-minute pitch is hard work! To explain what we do, how we do it, and why it’s innovative and important, all in five minutes, is super challenging to say the least, and especially in short notice. Despite spending hours over the weekend working on my deck and pitch, I didn’t have enough time to be totally prepared. Yet it was an extremely eye-opening learning experience that was well worth the effort.

Not only was preparing my pitch slides and story for our new initiative to start licensing our platform super helpful, but having the opportunity to practice in front of peers and mentors, most of whom do not know anything about Jolkona, was even more helpful. Hearing both the positive feedback and the areas I need to work on to make our pitch clear was extremely educational and productive and gives me hope and confidence in the new direction Jolkona is heading. My next challenge is to figure out how to incorporate the feedback and suggestions I received and still stay within five minutes for the quarterfinal round pitch on September 19! I have the next two weeks to figure it out, but hopefully I’ll get there. Stay tuned . . . and wish us luck!

Want to attend the SIFP? Read this blog post, New Ideas for Social Impact, by Joe Wallin at Davis Wright Tremaine, a SIFP sponsor.

This month, as we say goodbye to many of our awesome summer interns, we’d like to recognize our star volunteer that made it all happen. Meet Dania Primley (@DPrimley), officially our Director of Human Resources, but like many of our amazing volunteers, she goes above and beyond just that.

Dania at Canlis, Rishi Sanyal Photography

Dania at Canlis (Rishi Sanyal Photography)

Dania has been volunteering with Jolkona since April 2011 and immediately came in and took ownership of our HR needs and volunteer/internship recruiting. She created templates, procedures and policies and managed to recruit an awesome team of rock star interns.

Dania’s awesome recruiting efforts led to Jolkona accomplishing many things this summer, such as developing our Facebook Welcome Page, conducing marketing PR segment research, finally setting up QuickBooks, developing a plan for our soon-to-launch brand ambassador program, developing a partner welcome packet, and so much more!

Aside from helping with our HR needs, Dania has also taken it upon herself to be our morale officer, helping to make our all-hands meetings informative, fun and social. Last, in her spare time (we’re not sure how she finds any in between all of her friends’ weddings) she volunteers on the partner management sub-committee, which is helping to follow up with our partners on reporting feedback on donations.

Volunteers like Dania are what keep Jolkona going strong and allow us to achieve our mission of engaging the next generation of philanthropists.

Here’s what Pavan Kumar Potaraju, Events Team/Microsoft Giving Campaign volunteer had to say about Dania:

When I met Dania for the first time at one of our Jolkona meetings, I was amazed at her positive energy and passion for our organization. Her contribution has been tremendous, from recruiting new volunteers (and interns) to finding great venues for our meetings and events. Dania is Ms. Dependable, who does her work with so much conviction and fun that she often inspires people around her. Working with her, simply put, is super fun!

And from Laura Kimball, Jolkona’s Director of Communications & Social Media:

Dania is a spitfire of energy. She came to Jolkona to help with the events team but didn’t mind at all when Nadia and I asked her to help build our internship program. As a start-up nonprofit, we rely heavily on the professional skills that our volunteers bring to the table, and Dania is a prime example of how a volunteer arrived with one set of skills but jumped in where we needed her expertise the most.

One of our spring interns actually complimented us on how organized we were with the orientation and on-boarding process — that statement was 100 percent due to the procedures that Dania set up and trained us to implement.

Dania is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for her HR/volunteer management expertise, but excitement about the organization and how she’s always eager to jump in and help out when needed. I’m honored to work with her.

Dania exudes energy and passion, has a contagious smile, and we are honored and lucky to have her as part of the amazing team of volunteers at Jolkona. Thank you Dania for all of your hard work and contribution to Jolkona so far!

Note from the editor: Looking to be a part of Jolkona’s team? We’re actively recruiting for fall interns and year-round volunteers. Check out our openings here.

GiveBIG Seattle Foundation

Make Your Donation Go Further

Give to Jolkona through The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG challenge today, June 23rd, between 7am and 11:59pm PDT and a portion of your gift will be matched. In other words, the more you give, the more of the $500,000 stretch pool we’ll get!

Help Us Grow Our Impact

If you’ve ever donated to our partner projects, you know that 100% of your gift goes to the project as it’s how we ensure that every donation makes the biggest impact.

Today, we’re asking you to support Jolkona itself, so we can continue our innovative global development efforts and ignite the next generation of philanthropists. For example, a $200 donation will allow Jolkona to vet one new partner organization and add it to our website to receive donations.

How to Join the Biggest Day of Giving in King County* History:

  1. Go to Jolkona’s page on The Seattle Foundation website today between 7am and 11:59pm PDT. (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 grow!
  3. Tell others about your donation through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Encourage your friends to GiveBIG to Jolkona.

Bonus: When you give to Jolkona through The Seattle Foundation today, you will be eligible for the golden ticket which, if chosen, will award an extra $1,000 to Jolkona! The Seattle Foundation will choose one donor at random every hour throughout the day. Talk about increasing your impact!


On behalf of the entire Jolkona team, thank you for your support!


Nadia Khawaja Mahmud
CEO & Co-Founder

* Even though this will be one of the biggest days of giving in King County, anyone can donate, even if you live outside of King County, Washington.

GiveBIG Seattle Foundation

For those of you from Seattle, or even those that aren’t, you may have started to hear the buzz around GiveBIG hosted by The Seattle Foundation. Well, this year Jolkona will be participating so I hope you save the date for June 23 to GiveBIG with us!

What is Give BIG?

GiveBIG is an initiative by The Seattle Foundation designed to encourage community philanthropy. To do so, The Seattle Foundation has raised $500,000 to match contributions from local donors who give to various non-profits through their website on Thursday, June 23rd. The fund won’t match every donation dollar for dollar, but rather match the portion of total giving that each charity receives. They’re calling it a “stretch match.” We hope you join us in being a part of the biggest giving day in King County history!!!

Why Should You Donate to Jolkona on This Day?

We always ask for you to support our partner projects, but today we’re asking for you to support Jolkona. By making a gift, your donation – no matter how big or small – will be stretched, allowing us to continue our innovative global development efforts and engage the next generation of changemakers and philanthropists.

GiveBIG Day and Give More

June 23rd is the big day! From 7am – midnight (PST), all donations made to Jolkona via Seattle Foundation’s online Giving Center will be eligible for the stretch match so your donation will go further. So on June 23, please visit our page on The Seattle Foundation’s website and make a donation that will grow!

For more info on GiveBIG, check out Clay Holtzman’s article, Seattle asked to ‘Give Big’ on June 23.

From all of us at Jolkona, thank you for your support and for being a part of giving history in Seattle!

P.S. Click here to RSVP to GiveBIG on Facebook and receive updates throughout the month.

P.P.S. If you give to Jolkona, throughout the day on June 23rd, donors will be chosen at random by The Seattle Foundation to receive a golden ticket worth $1,000 extra to Jolkona, in addition to part of the stretch match! (Bonus: they’ll be giving out one golden ticket every hour!)

This week I am excited to be attending the the Global Business Coalition’s annual conference in New York as a Global Health Ambassador.   Myself along with nine others who I am super excited to meet with in person are invited to attend the conference to help drive discussions and awareness for the conference sessions over various social media channels.

I’ve attended several conferences over the past year or so either as a speaker or just as an attendee and always live tweet interesting leanings while I’m there, but what is exciting about this conference is that it will be covering pressing issues at the cross-section of the business sector and public health sectors, two areas I feel very passionate about.  It will bring together NGO leaders, private sector leaders, government, and heads of leading social businesses.

What exactly is the Global Business Coalition?

The Global Business Coalition is an organization that mobilizes the power of the global business community to fight the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics.  Today it is a network of over 220 global companies that help bring the business community together to make a healthier world.  The GBC essentially brings companies, nonprofits, and governments together for collaboration and coordination related to solving pressing global health and development issues.

While I plan to attend most of the sessions during the conference, I will be covering the following two sessions in more detail.

  1. Innovative Financing in Health
  2. Entrepreneurship in the Social Context: Business Visionaries Who See the “Return” on Health Investments

At Jolkona, two of the most popular categories of projects are education and public health.  That is why I’m super excited to be able to learn about how the business community can play a leading role in tackling many of the problems our global health partners try to address in the community level.  I truly believe, that in order to make a dent in pressing global health and poverty related issues, we need each one of us to do our part, and that includes non-profits like the ones we work with, but also donors like all of you in the Jolkona community, along with the business sector.

Stay tuned for my tweets, leanings, reflections and comments from the conference on June 1 and June 2 from NYC! Follow the conversations on twitter with @GBCnews @nadiamahmud & #GBCHealthConf




Biointensive farming and double dug beds
Double dug beds

One of the things that really sparked my interest during our trip to East Africa was seeing the innovation happening in the agriculture sector. In America, most of us are so far removed from our food and the food source whereas in rural Africa, everyone is a farmer. While visiting our partner Village Volunteers in Kitale, Kenya, many of us realized how much we take the produce we purchase from the grocery store for granted—no matter what season it really is, it’s so easy to purchase our favorite fruit and vegetables year-round which is defiantly not the case in rural Africa. There, everything has a season and if a particular crop is out of season, it just does not exist in your diet at that time.  Living in rural Africa for a few weeks also made me realize how time consuming farming really is.  From the time you plant your crops to the time you harvest and have food to feed your family, several weeks or months have gone by so I found myself really appreciating and savoring the fresh ingredients prepared while I was in the villages.  However, what really excited me during this trip was learning about the techniques for sustainable agriculture, which given the current global food crisis is becoming more and more important in development work.

During this trip, I was introduced to an agricultural technique known as Biointensive Agriculture. Basically, it’s an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yield from the minimum area of land while simultaneously improving the soil. Sack farming is also a popular technique, where virtually anyone can grow crops out of potato sacks.

What is Biointensive Agriculture?

Biointensive farming sack garden
Joshua shows us a sack garden.

Biointensive Farming, also called Biointensive Agriculture, is a technique that was launched by one of Village Volunteers’ partner NGO called Common Ground. Here is the definition of Biointensive Farming from the training manual, which you can download by clicking this link:

Biointensive farming is a self-help food raising method based on building and maintaining soil fertility and using NO chemicals. It is simple to learn and use, based on sophisticated principles dating back 4000 years in China, 2000 years in Greece, and 300 years in Europe. It was synthesized and brought to the U.S. by the English master horticulturist, Alan Chadwick, then further developed and documented by Ecology Action.
Important aspects of the method include:

  • Double-dug, raised beds
  • Composting
  • Intensive planting
  • Carbon farming
  • Calorie farming
  • The use of open–pollinated seeds
  • The whole gardening method

Chemicals are generally promoted when the soil is degraded, or the plants, trees, or animals are unhealthy. The biointensive farming model aims at restoring soil health and designing an environment that creates healthy plants, trees and animals. Biointensive training provides specific ideas on reducing and eventually eliminating the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and the like. It addresses the healing process of the soil’s fertility and structure to put nutrients back into the soil and the give the soil the ability manage different levels of water.

Right now, we work with Village Volunteers specifically to fund their water filter project. Part of our visit to Kitale was to learn how else Jolkona could partner with Village Volunteers in addition to the water filtration project, and Biointensive Farming may be a perfect fit. (Stay tuned!)

How can innovations in farming power a village?

We found innovation everywhere in this village. Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground, runs one of the best primary schools in the area that is almost fully self-sustaining. How does he do this? The school owns land that utilizes the techniques of Biointensive Farming. Crops feed all the children healthy meals, they also teach nearby villages and farmers about Biointensive Farming methods. Essentially, the technique taught teaches farmers to dig their crops deeper in order to maximize land use and to be able to plant twice as many crops compared to traditional farming techniques. Joshua also teaches Agroecology techniques where natural enemies are used instead of pesticides to ensure a sustainable ecosystem.  I was fascinated by this technique that I had never heard of until I returned and learned that many agricultural experts would argue this is one of the best solutions for fighting both the food crisis and climate change.

However, back to the program in Kitale, season after season, this program allows the school not only to increase their yields to feed all the students, but it even sustains a business model where the ability to profit from the surplus crop and invest funds back into the school. The land is also rich in brick soil they use the soil to make and sell bricks. Again, putting any profits made back into supporting the future of the school.  We need more social entrepreneurs in the world like Joshua’s who are looking for innovative solutions to create transformative and lasting change in their communities.

Stay tuned for more Jolkona projects to help support this program to spread biointensive and agroecology farming techniques throughout Kenya!

Joshua Machinga explains biointensive farming
Joshua Machinga, the director of the program and founder of Common Ground.