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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!

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.

Here at the Jolkona Foundation, we empower, we educate, and we offer access to much needed public health services by connecting you with many partner organizations. More importantly, we believe in the impact we can make, especially by supporting development work targeted towards improving the world. Through your support, we are having a real global impact and are working to ensure that the changes we make today have a positive and lasting impact on the future.

March is National Women’s History Month and a celebration of women who struggled to unlock doors so that women today can open the doors and walk through them. The Women’s History Project organizes this month and declares that:

Now, more than ever, the work of this movement needs to continue and expand. Each new generation needs to draw information and inspiration from the last.

As part of our global focus, we’re spending the month of March appreciating the past and looking to the future. We’re highlighting our women-focused projects that are creating lasting change around the world. We’re also honoring the obstacles women have overcome in the past and how those women inspire us to accomplish even greater goals today.

It’s going to be an incredible month, and we hope you’re as excited about this celebration as we are!

What to make a lasting global impact you can see?

Donate to support the work of our women-focused projects today!

How else can you get involved?

And we want to hear from YOU! Share your story: How are you celebrating Women’s History Month?

Last month, David Roodman, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, set off a storm with a post on Kiva’s model. His post received tons of comments, a reply blog post from Matt Flannery (Kiva CEO), and a revision of the Kiva website. Couple of days ago, even the New York Times published an article about this issue. We have received lots of emails from our supporters asking us what is our response to this public discussion.

Before I get into our thoughts, here is some background info:

Transparency has been a problem in the nonprofit sector for years. We have tried different approaches to tackle this problem. For example, World Vision provides photo of the child a donor is supporting. Charity Navigator gives the donor information about the financial efficiency of an organization. However, donors still feel that they don’t have a true grasp of exactly how their gifts are being utilized. This is especially true for donors who give small amounts of money.

With the technological advances of the past decade and rise in popularity of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) smaller donors are now demanding more transparency.  If you add the current economic conditions, there is increasing pressure on non-profits to show how every dollar is being spent. It is not easy for non-profits to change their models overnight to meet this new demand. It requires significant investment in building an infrastructure and requires more manpower – something that is hard for many organizations to justify. So, what you have are these organizations (non-profits and MFIs) with very good intentions building make-shift solutions that never quite meet the donors’ needs. This leads to the inconsistencies that Mr. Roodman pointed out in his blog post.

Before I continue, it is important, to make couple of observations here:

  1. Organizations like Kiva and GlobalGiving have been real pioneers in this field. They have shown that there is a really high demand from the everyday donor to feel connected to the change that their small donations are making. For the recent criticisms facing these organizations, we can’t forget the tremendous impact they have had so far.
  2. There isn’t a perfect system and it is impossible to devise one. There will always be people who will try to find the loopholes and abuse the system. However, we shouldn’t let perfect get in the way of the good. We should try to explore as many of these models as possible and try to take them forward as much as possible.

The challenge facing all of us in the nonprofit sector is how do we effectively provide transparency to donors without burdening the organizations excessively? To meet the donor demand for high-impact and high transparency, we believe the following conditions have to be met:

  1. Make donors feel like he/she is a Changemaker by showing the impact for their every donation, including the small ones. Every dollar truly does count.
  2. Give donor choices. Not every person wants to give a loan or feed a child. However, most people want to make a difference. Give them as many choices as possible.
  3. Measure the impact so that everyone involved feels like we are making progress. No one wants to see money being thrown into a black hole.
  4. Connect with the smaller donors. Individually, they do not have a lot of money to donate, but, as a group they can provide critical support to a cause. Nowhere was this more evident than last year’s US presidential elections.
  5. Provide affordable tools to nonprofit organizations so that they can engage the donors in an efficient, cost-effective way and more importantly, learn from each other and knowledge share best practices.

I founded Jolkona Foundation with the goal of meeting the conditions outlined above. Jolkona Foundation seeks to inspire a new generation of philanthropists to make high-impact changes through low-cost solutions. The key differences between Jolkona Foundation and Kiva or Global Giving is that we provide donation level feedback – i.e. every donation gets a unique feedback. We work with our non-profit partners to develop rich, meaningful feedback for the donors. For example, with $40, a donor can provide year-long accelerated education to a girl in Afghanistan. In exchange, the donor receives a photo and background info about the girl at the time of donation and a report card at the end of the year. We spend a significant amount of time working with each of our partners to create the feedback type that would be cost-effective for them, compelling for the donor, and not be detrimental to security and privacy of the beneficiary. It is important to note that our partners’ implement the donations in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Once the donation is received, the partner actually goes and implements the gift. For example, if you provide books in tibet, our partner actually goes to the local market and buys books once the donation is received.
  2. The donations are used to release “locked” funds for the partners so that they can go and use those funds for other purposes. Let’s say our partner already has plans to educate 100 girls for a cost of $40 per girl in Afghanistan this year. That means they have $4,000 dedicated for this purpose this year. If they receive donations for educating 10 girls, then, that would free up $400 from their allocated funds for other purposes.

Rich feedback for donors is not our only focus. We are also building the infrastructure that other nonprofits (i.e. our partners) can leverage, thereby, allowing them to focus more on the job that they are good at – making a difference on the ground. For example, our partners are able to connect with each other through a private discussion group and share best practices with each other.

We are still a very young organization and we still have a long way to go. However, we are encouraged by the trends in the philanthropic sector. We will see an increasing number of non-profit organizations embrace tranparency and provide donors with an experience that is richer than anything we have ever seen before. Jolkona Foundation will continue to do our best to meet the needs of both the donors and the partner organizations.

I invite your comments and thoughts on this post as part of the ongoing dialogue. We are eager to learn from people who are passionate about this topic.

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