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Even 3,000 miles away, Dini’s voice practically bubbles over the phone with enthusiasm and ideas, telling me about life as a student at Boston University, running her Indonesia-based company from afar, and how she manages to do it all.

It’s been a busy 18 months since Dini Hajarrahmah finished the Jolkona Social Entrepreneurship Catalyst Program in Seattle WA. She said that those 2 weeks passed in an intense blur of classes, presentations and sleep deprivation, but two important components remained: an Indonesian community of social entrepreneurs, and lasting Seattle contacts who are helping her reshape and grow her company.

Dini founded and runs an eco-tourism company named “Wanderlust Indonesia” that offers packages for travelers to live and interact with local Indonesian families and villages, with a mission to enhance awareness, develop understanding of local issues and empower the participating families and communities. Before the Jolkona program she said that she had been aware of other social entrepreneurs, but she rarely knew them personally. Now she has a lasting community of other like-minded people who are committed to solving major social issues with new ideas.

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Currently Dini is working to expand her company internationally and beyond eco-tourism. During her Jolkona training she met Brandon Fleming, PhD a University of Washington professor in the school of business. A few months later they collaborated, creating the “Global Study Tour to Indonesia” for his students to travel to Indonesia to learn about start-up, social entrepreneur and NGO companies, as well as visiting slum areas in Jakarta. After the trip, one student contacted Dini and said that she wanted to organize a water project in collaboration with Wanderlust and, with that, a new idea was born. Now Dr. Fleming is going to make this an annual trek for his students and it may have created a new purpose for the company: partnering with schools so students can come from 2-4 weeks, work on a business project, and learn cross-culturally.

I asked her how she juggled being a full-time student with running a company located across the globe and she admitted it has been challenging: the time difference is the big one. Day and night are almost switched so she has to make her calls at night and her staff can only reach her in the mornings. “Things don’t move as fast,” she admitted. And she still has to deal with the normal challenges of being an Indonesian social entrepreneur, from government corruption (“I can deal with that, though”) to her biggest challenge: “It’s a totally new idea in Indonesian society. People don’t know or understand it. Sometimes you have to manage locals’ expectations because they think you’re going to make them rich or that there will be instant results. So it can be a struggle to explain how it works in simple language and get on the same page.”

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Given her experience at Jolkona and now her education in the Economic Development and Tourism Management at Boston University, she has several plans for Wanderlust. Besides expanding internationally, she would like to move more towards an on-line marketplace so her company can move faster, offer more options and partner more easily with others. She is also considering expanding to focus more on connecting travelers with locals by, for example, offering local culinary experiences or home stays.

Although the subject never naturally came up, I couldn’t resist asking what it’s like being a female social entrepreneur – running her own company in a Muslim-based, developing country. There was a puzzled pause before she finally answered, “It’s not a problem,” she assured me. “Women in Indonesia can do more than people think. There’s a saying,” she went on, ‘Like a mother in a village – don’t underestimate them!’ So don’t underestimate them – or the power of women in Indonesia. There are no problems with women being in charge.” With that, I had to smile. Perhaps people in the US could learn something from them.

Dini Hajarrahmah is a Jolkona Catalyst alum from 2014. Come meet Dini at the showcase!

by Casey Luce, freelance writer & Jolkona Volunteer

During Jolkona’s Project Catalyst Showcase on Thursday, June 19, our five Indonesian social entrepreneurs gave their five-minute business pitches to a public audience of supporters and investors. Funded by the U.S. State Department, Project Catalyst had selected them out of 200 applicants. And after two weeks of intense training in Seattle–which included workshops, field trips, mentoring, coaching, and coffee chats–the participants presented their social enterprise projects to sixty people at the University of Washington.

“I was so excited to do the pitch, especially doing it in a foreign language with an international sphere,” Mirah Mahaswari, one of the participants who was giving her pitch for the first time, said.

While Nadya Saib has pitched before, she said this time was different: “This past Thursday is slightly different though, because I didn’t know anyone from the audience in person. The last time I pitched, I was accompanied with my team.”

The social entrepreneurs spent much of the week leading up to the presentation preparing it. They received feedback from mentors and coaches, and they practiced on each other for hours. Nadine Zamira said, “I was most excited to see the other’s pitch decks. We have been practicing with each other and was really looking forward to seeing the final product. I think everyone did amazing! So proud!”

Nadya added, “I was nervous about being the first in giving the presentation. But that actually excites me too. And I was also excited to talk in front of some coaches whom had given me loads of insights. I wanted them to know that their feedback had been useful for me.”

Nadine also said of the audience, “I loved seeing all the wonderful people who have been generous with us through out the program in one room.”

At the end of the presentations, the members of the audience voted for the recipient of a $500 grant. As the audience could buy more votes–at $5 per vote–the pool was increased to $700 by the end of the night. Mirah, whose Pack Your Spirit program promotes literacy and instills passion for reading in Indonesia, won the grant.

She said, “I am soooooo glad that my project got the grant! I can’t believe it, since the others were amazing during their pitch!”

The award was presented to her during a catered Indonesian dinner.

The audience was also asked to write notes on the back of their votes, and for many of the participants, that was valuable. Nadine said, “I really liked hearing the audience’s feedback – praise, encouragement, constructive input and new networking opportunities. The input box was a really nice touch. It’s always great to know when people understand or can relate to your message.” 

While the first program of Project Catalyst came to a close and the participants have all gone home to Indonesia, it is only the beginning for their projects. Nadya said her biggest take away was, “What Adnan told us–that it’s actually just the beginning that may spark more connections with the audience. Our next job is to follow up.”

Project Catalyst is an accelerator for international social ventures. This 2-week intensive workshop brings social entrepreneurs from developing countries to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors and funders.

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Jolkona’s volunteers are absolutely essential to what we do — not only because of their skills, but also because of their dedication and positive energy. Even when it’s time to say goodbye, their professional contributions and personal friendships have a lasting impact on our team.

As part of National Volunteer Week, Jolkona is honoring Jessica Wicksnin, a talented web developer who is pursuing a career as a web apps engineer at Qazzow.

Nancy Xu, our Design/Tech Director, describes working with her:

Jessica joined us last year and has been such a great part of our tech team ever since. She worked on our Jolkona website (2 versions of them!), helped ramp up new team members and wrote great documentation of what we did (the rest of us somehow never get around to doing this). Her latest project – a philanthropy quiz – will be launched in the next week or so!

I love working with Jessica because she is very thoughtful when it comes to solving tough programming challenges, she is a great communicator and explains things really well, and she’s so warm and friendly so everyone here enjoys her presence!

Dhanya Satya, our HR Recruiter, adds:

Jessica is awesome! I like the energy and the positivity she has towards her dream, her pet, her blog, and basically everything. She is extremely determined and the very fact that she has transitioned so seamlessly and made a career change is a testament for that. I will surely miss having her here  at Jolkona. I am sure she is  going to shine wherever she goes.

Dedicated volunteers like Jessica have a huge impact on small organizations like Jolkona, and on the nonprofit sector as a whole. Be sure to join Jolkona in recognizing National Volunteer Week as an opportunity to thank the volunteers who give their time to improve your office and community.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Bill Gates appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night to promote the 2014 Gates Annual Letter, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s progress report on efforts to eradicate global disease, poverty and child mortality. The focus of this year’s letter is to “stop the myth” that foreign aid doesn’t work, through evidence and optimism.

Especially for those of us who work in the nonprofit sector, it is always encouraging to see philanthropy have a measurable impact. At Jolkona, we strive to be as transparent as possible about actions of our partners and the difference we make. This includes openly reflecting on our successes and failures, and using what we learned to continue to improve and innovate. We know that when it comes to donations for a worthy cause, every drop counts. We can do our part to #stopthemyth as well.

You can help fight common misconceptions about the effectiveness of aid efforts by sharing the 2014 Gates Annual Letter with others, using hashtag #stopthemyth. These small actions may have more of an impact than you know.

By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.

Bill Gates

You can make a global impact through Jolkona, as well, through one of our three Give options: Support individual projects through our Give Direct platform, participate in a monthly discussion to make a collective difference through our 2014 Give Together campaign, or support holistic efforts to aid Bangladesh through the Lift Bangla program.  With just a small donation, each of us can reduce poverty a little bit more each day.

We too are optimistic about the future, and the impact we can have in years to come!

Photo Credit: gatesletter.com

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Like many of you, I really look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. Between spending time with my family and pets, and finding the balance between tradition and innovation on the dinner table, it’s always an enjoyable holiday. Most of all it is a good day for reflection (perhaps while recovering from all the food) on what we each have to be grateful for this year.

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At Jolkona, we also have lots of reasons to give thanks. Our donors support our partners and our mission of demonstrating that anyone can be a philanthropist. Our partners work with us to provide high-impact aid locally and globally, showing that great things can be accomplished with creativity, love, and social innovation. Our Give Together members, by joining this new donation platform, are helping us revolutionize charitable giving. And of course, we are thankful for all the volunteers and staff who have helped make Jolkona bigger and better this year by giving their time, energy and talent. Personally, I am thankful for everything that I have learned since joining the Jolkona team.

Give Together: Fighting Poverty & Helping the Philippines

Along with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah is also starting this week, and the pine-scented, carol-filled escalation to Christmas has already begun. In the meantime, we still have a couple of days left in our November Give Together campaign to Alleviate Poverty. Our partners for this month — Upaya, Dagbe, and Washington C.A.S.H. — could still use your contributions. With your help, we can reach the funding goal by Dec. 1!

Next month, in lieu of a new theme, Give Together members will be included in our major holiday campaign: Standing With the Philippines. Donations to this campaign will help Peace Winds America provide shelter, food, water, medicine, bedding, and hygiene kits to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda)Contributions can also be made in honor of family and friends — a meaningful holiday gift, especially for the people on your “nice” list who already have everything. Win-win-win!

If you’re in the Seattle area, you can carry the grateful and giving spirit of Thanksgiving over into December — and cleanse your palate from the chaotic consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — by celebrating #GivingTuesday with us on Dec. 3. Head over to Facebook for event details and to RSVP. The festivities are free; anyone who donates to the Standing WIth the Philippines campaign during the party will be entered to win fabulous raffle prizes.

Celebrate Thanksgiving by Giving Together & Standing With the Philippines, and we look forward to giving through the holidays with you!

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

The end of August means many things: that summer will give way to cozy sweater weather and the first orange leaves, that pumpkin spice lattes will soon be available at coffee shops around the country.  Here at Jolkona, the end of August means that our second month of Give Together is coming to a close, and it is you last chance to give to Global Health before we feature three new projects!

Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to increase our Global Health project goals twice, raising $640 in monthly donations through our Give Together community so far. Whether you vote for mother/child health care in India, prosthetics and amputee rehabilitation in Haiti, or cleft palate surgery in Bolivia, you are part of a global movement to save lives.

Online access to philanthropic causes has truly revolutionized microgiving and individual donor impact. Check out eBay‘s infographic, 16 Ways the Internet Has Proved it Has a Heart, demonstrating the various times in the last few years where online communities have pulled together to make an incredible impact. From raising thousands for Doctors without Borders, to raising more than $1 million to bring clean water to parts of Africa, to even helping to fund cryogenic freezing as a terminal cancer patient’s last wish, the ability of online communities to mobilize funds for issues like Global Health is unprecedented.

sample - viral giving

At Jolkona our unique Give Together community makes giving even easier, and is tapping the potential of viral giving.

Next month, Give Together September will continue this trend of online philanthropy with an Animals theme, featuring projects from the Snow Leopard Trust, Reading With Rover, and Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Check back on this blog for more information about these projects over the next few weeks.

Use these last few days of August to Give Together for Global Health. And, as you snuggle up against the coming fall chill with your favorite pet and your obligatory pumpkin spice latte, prepare to Give Together for Animals.

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

It’s been a few months since we trekked through West Africa, so it is time for our favorite tradition: the reunion. We have been doing this ever since our first expedition in 2010. An evening of re-creating local dishes we had on our journey, accompanied by stories of our favorite local heroes we’ve met along the way.

Suejin and Timothee cooking up briques and oeuf cocotte:

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Adnan made an epic fufu — only a full day of cooking time! It was the dish that we featured in all of our brochures when we were forming the team, yet we only had one chance to eat it during the trip… but the power was out and the fufu could not be made.

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Punit and I made one of our favorite dishes: jollof rice. The first time we ate it was made by our home cook, Pearl, and we were blown away. We ordered it frequently after, but it was never as good as Pearl’s.

Maggi cubes (the magic ingredient to give jollof that kick of flavor):

maggi cubes

Tomato, onion, hot pepper goodness all blended up. Then add rice.

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Team effort:

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Jollof Rice Recipe

adapted from Africanbite

4 generous portions

  • 2 cups long grain rice (eg Basmati)
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 fresh habanero chilli pepper (it’s gonna be spicy!)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 70 grams of tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow sweet pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, diced
  • A handful of fresh green beans
  • 2 small Maggi cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Peel the onion and cut in half, and put in a pot together with the tomatoes, garlic cloves and fresh chilli pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the skin of the tomatoes starts peeling.

Put the boiled tomatoes and other vegetables in a mixer with a little of the hot water from the pot and mix until you have a smooth sauce.

Pour the mixture into a large pot, add the tomato paste, chilli flakes, Maggi cubes and some more of the hot water from the first pot and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat.

Add rice. Cook until the rice is done. You might have to add some more water, depending on what kind of rice you use.

You can steam the diced red/yellow peppers and the green beans. I always pan fry them quickly to get more flavor. Add to the pot once the rice is done cooking.

It’s ready to serve, enjoy!

Join the next expedition

Very soon Team Jolkona will prepare for our next expedition: Bangladesh and Burma this December. If you’re interested in learning more about the expedition and to see if you are a good match for our travel team, please email expedition@jolkona.org.

You can read all the posts from the Jolkona Team expedition in West Africa here.  

You can keep up with everything Jolkona 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.

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.

The Pacific Northwest Global Donor’s Conference was held on May 17th, as a forum to promote global philanthropy. As this is a great opportunity to connect with others in the philanthropic community, and learn about the initiatives and innovations of other non-profits, some members of the Jolkona team attended. The goal of the conference was to create an environment in which connections could make a real difference, as expressed by the opening speaker: “We have all the technology and solutions to solve the world’s problems. But, it is leadership and organization that will make it happen.”

Here were the impressions of our team:

The conference promised to unveil a new model with utility for the non-profit community. What was the model, and how did it work?

The model is for the new conference structure. The day started with a rapid fire of 7 minute quick talks, and after lunch, it went into “open space”. A few people with topics in mind would make the topic suggestion, and then people go to join a table. At any point you were free to move around so you could spread the ideas around.

Did you learn about something that you thought was inspiring, intriguing, or worthy of interest?

I picked a workshop on travel for philanthropy. I met a lot of interesting, trip-leading veterans from 11plus, EcoViva, Pangea, and others. I felt like we are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considerate, sustainable trip leading. They have much more advanced approaches on how to prepare the community before a foreign visit and lessons learned (when they went to see someone in a slum community, his landlord raised rent on him assuming he got a lot of money from the white visitors).

Were there any exciting new foundations or organizations at the conference? Who were they, and what do they do?

I really like some of the impact investment groups that I met, and heard from quick talks. Impact investing is about focusing on impact, which is not the same as return on investment. A company with great products makes a good investment because they make a lot of profit. These groups invest in them. But, nonprofit/social for-profits don’t make a lot of money but make positive impact on our population, and these investment companies balance their portfolio by investing in them also.

Did you meet any new potential partners for Jolkona?

Village Volunteer is an exciting partner, and their new projects are great. One project is to make biodegradable sanitary pads for rural communities out of an invasive species that looked like water lily. EcoViva has interesting projects with the indigenous communities in Guatemala, in an area with largest mangroves still remaining in the world. One women’s human rights group talked to me about being a Jolkona partner as well.

What did the speakers talk about that you found most interesting?

Gates Foundation had an interesting way of applying modern financial tools used in established economies and, transferring it for use with the poor. They learned a lot making this transition.

IDEX is a group that stays with their projects for the long haul, even if their mission changes. One of their partners went from micro-finance to human rights, and all of their funders left because it didn’t align with what they support anymore. IDEX stayed. They believed it was the right strategy shift for their partner and was able to continue funding them

Was the experience worth going to, and what could have been improved?

It is clear that the active philanthropist community is small and tight, so it was nice to start to get used to the faces. But, the conference (and all of us) needs to be able to reach out to other groups.

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

An enduring question in the non-profit sector has been the decision of how anonymous a donation should be. A recent article from the Nonprofit Quarterly frames the question as a public vs. private matter. They ask whether charity is an individual and private decision, or one that relies on community involvement. The philanthropy section of the New York Times introduced the topic, asking about whether public giving is about a name on a plaque or building, or if it is an integral part of building donor relationships? Both of these articles, and other sources, choose to frame their arguments in a Judeo-Christian context, emphasizing the belief that humility in giving is almost as important as the act itself.

However, in my opinion, this approach seems dated, and fails to fully take into account or embrace the themes of social connectivity, and the changing public face of philanthropy. We are in the age of social media, where nothing is truly quiet, and the way people are motivated into action has changed. As social media has changed the way we communicate and keep in touch with our acquaintances, it makes sense that philanthropy would follow the same route.

It seems that whether or not you give anonymously, both choices seem motivated by individual needs than by broader good. Asking for privacy is perceived as avoiding the pressure for further donations, and receiving a special plaque or building seems like a quest for immortality. Alternatively, a donation with a well-known name behind it helps bring publicity to the non-profit, and bring in further donations. While these questions are still being discussed by the major sources of non-profit news, it seems as if the debate will soon be made obsolete by our social media culture. People spread awareness about all sorts of issues and causes, and publicity is no longer about an engraved name, or seen as crass self-promotion.

For those of us who aren’t wealthy enough to earn our name on a park bench, or organizations that don’t rely on large donations, quiet, anonymous gifts may be counterproductive. In fact, 15 to 18 percent of donations are referred from Facebook in an average peer-to-peer campaign. Most of the people who “like” a charity on Facebook do so because they want to publicly display their support for the charity to their friends. In addition, over half of social media users who engaged with a non-profit or cause took further action by donating, volunteering, or continuing to spread the word.

Of course, just as selecting a cause or organization is a personal decision, so is the choice to make your donations public or strictly private. Keep in mind however, that small non-profits especially rely on social media to garner donations, publicize campaigns and build a strong following. When you can publicize what you ate for lunch, why not use social media to share a cause you are passionate about?

Whether or not you make your donations public, small organizations like Jolkona can use just a small contribution. Make a difference and donate to a project today.

Read our previous post about Social Media and Philanthropy.

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

 

diversity day 2013logo

We live in a world of ever increasing connectivity, where we have access to as much information as we want, from around the world, at our very fingertips. Cultural diversity is more a part of daily life, both locally, and globally, as more and more people have access to technology and social media, making the world more connected than ever before. However, despite the shrinking space between interactions, having a society that respects cultural diversity is more difficult than one would think. In fact, a full three quarters of conflicts still have some cultural dimension. That is why today, on May 21st, we recognize the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

On an international policy scale, the UN recognizes that cultural diversity is vitally important to development, as well as to peace. Irena Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO says, “Experience shows that efficient development models are those that actually integrate local cultural specificities, thus eliciting the involvement of the communities concerned.” In addition, keeping culture central to developing educational, environmental, communication, and other policies, means that marginalized groups are better represented. Diversity Day focuses on encouraging cultural and religious dialogue and plurality locally, as well as internationally, while creating a better balance between the exchange of cultural goods, and preserving the most vulnerable cultures.

Celebrating World Diversity day and experiencing cultural diversity doesn’t only have to be the project of international policy, it can just as easily be done at home. Do one of the things on the list provided by the Do One Thing Campaign for Diversity and Inclusion, from the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations:

  1. Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  2. Invite someone in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
  3. Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
  4. Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
  5. Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi.)
  6. Visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
  7. Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
  8. Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures like Hanukkah, Ramadan or about the amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or the Qingming festival in China.
  9. Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures
  10. Explore music of a different culture

Information from UNAOC. Find out more about the Do One Thing Campaign here.

In honor of UN World Diversity Day, you can also donate to a project here at Jolkona, which will not only contribute to celebrating cultural diversity and identity, but also to aiding and empowering people in developing countries, which will soon be the epicenter of the development questions put forward by UNESCO. Through Potters for Peace, donate just $25, to train a Nicaraguan artist in making traditional pottery, for up to a year . This not only provides a steady source of income for those living in extreme poverty, but also preserves cultural heritage. Similarly, a donation of only $15, through Awamaki, supports a woman weaver in remote indigenous communities in Peru . The donation provides workshops and business training so the women can be self-sufficient, and giving them access to an international market for their traditional Peruvian weavings.

Though globally recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity may seem like an incredibly massive task, you can do your part with just a small act of seeking out and experiencing a new culture, whether it is exploring a new cuisine, or donating to help someone turn their culture into a source of well being, and have a stronger global presence. Today, on UN World Diversity Day, make a difference, be inclusive, and be part of the dialogue.

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

Here at Jolkona, we like to reflect upon good deeds that are done each and every day. No matter the price or the size of the deed, it contributes as a larger consciousness of positivity in our world. Sometimes the good deed is sprung upon us within seconds, such as lifting someone up who’s tripped on the ground. Other moments are thoughtful and methodically carried out, like those who donate their time and a smiling face to soup kitchens all across the globe. For most of us, giving is more than a good deed; it changes you. It reflects upon you as a change that transforms who you are into who you’ve become. Being a part of the Jolkona family speaks to a larger purpose for each and every one of us. We become united under the community of philanthropy.

 

Sumaira Arastu

Today we are giving a big thank-you to Sumaira Arastu, long standing Jolkona enthusiast and donor. She generously shared her thoughts about giving and why Jolkona is meaningful for her and her life:

 

What was your first impression of the Jolkona foundation?

Well, I learned about Jolkona when it was still a seedling in the womb. Nadia, the co-founder, and I had gone to college together and she told me about the idea of creating an organization where students and young professionals can contribute in a meaningful way even in a limited financial capacity. The idea of a small act having a larger impact seemed very appealing to me.

Which Jolkona projects have you donated to that stand out?

I believe that health is a foundation to success, without health our education, wealth, and interests cannot be enjoyed. This is why the projects that focus on helping people gain access to health care or focus on preventative care are most appealing to me.
What do you enjoy about giving to Jolkona projects?
I really like the transparency of Jolkona. It is great to be able to track every single penny. Also, I identify with Jolkona’s mission, so it’s rewarding to be able to be part of something that helps realize my ideals.

If you had to describe Jolkona in 4 words, what would you say?

Vital, Innovative, Effective, and Ambitious

How would you describe philanthropy?

Philanthropy to me is about feeling alive. It allows us to build connections with people through any resource we can share. This makes us feel like we are part of something larger and more meaningful. To live for yourself is utterly lonely and you miss out on a feeling of community. I think that part of evolving as a society and as humans requires us to support one another and share our resources so that all of us can realize our potential. This ultimately benefits everyone, even if it means a small sacrifice in the short term.

What are your hobbies? Do you participate other community projects or events in your spare time?

I do. I enjoy volunteering with youth programs so when I can, I volunteer with a program called “Up and Running Again,” which is a group that works with inner city high school and elementary students to train for a half marathon with the idea that such training will allow them to set goals for themselves in all parts of their lives and know that they can achieve them. I also volunteer for Junior Achievement, a program geared to helping elementary students learn more about the business world, so that they can become inspired to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of their own communities.  Otherwise, my hobbies mostly consist of eating chocolate and drinking coffee :).

 

Giving is contagious. Share a small token of kindness to start a chain reaction of sharing and growing. Start here.
Tweet your first time donating with @Jolkona on Twitter, or share your story on our Facebook.

Lotensin

What makes a company stand out and truly sparkle among the sea of eager entrepreneurs ready to stand in the spotlight? Is there a language to a successful business? When your mission is to provide a non-profit example of humanitarian work, how do you gain enough recognition and generate enough buzz to truly be heard?

TRAY Creative is one such agency that develops a strong identity and unique marketing for any business, but especially for those who may lack an available resource due to low funding.

I had a chance to talk with Ralph Allora, TRAY Creative’s Principal/Marketing Director on their most recent campaign that ended before the new year. We provided them with the giving platform to make this event happen successfully. Get to know Ralph, TRAY Creative, and the challenge below:

What is the inspiration behind TRAY Creative’s Holiday Giving Challenge?
TRAY Creative is a big supporter of Jolkona, and we had been talking for some time about partnering on a corporate giving campaign. So we hit upon the idea of doing a Holiday Giving Challenge in December–a limited-time competition to raise money for a handful of selected nonprofits.
TRAY designed the online giving page and developed content for the social media and PR components of the campaign. Jolkona did the development work and hosted the page. We paid a licensing fee to cover development and hosting to ensure that the participating organizations received 100% of their pledged donations.
We approached four nonprofits based in Seattle to participate in the program, and they all agreed. We knew there had to be an incentive to get donors excited about the competition, so we added a reward: the organization that raised the most money would receive $2,500 in pro bono marketing and creative services from TRAY in 2012.

How was the response?
We were thrilled with the response. In just 26 days, we were able to raise almost $7,000 for the four nonprofits. Because these are locally focused organizations, that’s a meaningful number.

What is your personal experience with each non-profit organization featured in the campaign?
We picked these four organizations specifically because they represent causes we care about. People for Puget Sound represented the environment, the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation represented animal protection, FareStart represented economic empowerment, and the University of Washington Dream project represented education. For any business thinking about running a campaign like this, our advice would be to partner with organizations that align with your company’s core values. It’s critical to the success of the program.

What do you believe is the greatest public impact from this campaign?
Especially around the holidays, people are inundated with appeals from different nonprofits. There are so many choices, so many opportunities to give, so it’s important to create incentives, which we feel we did successfully. First, by offering a prize of pro bono assistance for the winning organization, we were able to keep donors motivated and show them that their dollars could go further. Second, because it was a competition the participating groups–TRAY and the nonprofits–actively used Facebook, Twitter, and e-marketing to rally their audiences throughout the campaign. We added a pie chart on the giving page, which updated the results in real time and kept it exciting down to the final days, when People for Puget Sound surged ahead and won the competition.

Looking forward to another campaign? Have anything in the works?
Yes, we’re hoping to make this an annual holiday tradition, and raise even more money this year. And we’re already talking to Jolkona about creating a giving-platform template that can be branded and customized so that other businesses can run this kind of cause-marketing campaign in a simple, cost-effective way. For any small or midsize company that’s looked at a miltimillion-dollar initiative and wondered how they can pull off their own small-scale version, we think this could be a great solution.

What does philanthropy mean to you?
Speaking from a business standpoint, philanthropy is about more than cutting a check for a nonprofit and calling it a day. It’s about giving back and expressing your company’s core values on multiple levels, whether that’s encouraging employee volunteerism, doing pro bono work, or getting employees, customers and vendors actively involved in a campaign like TRAY Holiday Giving Challenge. When you’re willing to put your company’s brainpower, time and resources to wrok on behalf of a cause you believe in, that’s true philanthropy.

6,768 dollars were raised during this challenge, and the winner was People for Puget Sound with a total of 2,880 dollars raised. Great job!
Click here to learn more about TRAY Creative, or follow their tweets.

Note from the editor: Post is written by Jordan Belmonte while in Bolivia.

Visiting the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Home in Bolivia, I was reminded of the importance of community and the special bond of a family.  Pequenos Hermanos means Our Little Brothers and Sisters. It is a home that supports 102 orphaned or abandoned children and teenagers. NPH is founded on the four pillars of unconditional love, work, responsibility and service to the community.

The NPH home, staff and children surprised me at every moment.  NPH Bolivia faces many challenges—funding, government regulations (government restrictions will not allow NPH to show any photos of the children, making fundraising difficult)–even the weekly grocery shopping is a challenge due to the need for special tax receipts. Despite all the practical difficulties with operating a home for over 100 children, Jolkona sat down and asked the program’s national director, Jose Luis, about the biggest challenges they faced at NPH Bolivia. He said, without hesitation, that the greatest challenge was always to make the children feel loved and that everyone at NPH is really their family.

Continuous focus on creating a safe space filled with unconditional love for these children is truly inspiring.  In addition to basic housing, food, and education the NPH home ensures that the children are taken care spiritually and emotionally. One of the NPH programs, which Jolkona supports, helps sponsor the children’s emotional well-being by providing personal and group counseling services. Many of the children have seen the death of their family members or have come from physically or sexually abusive homes. They are placed with NPH by Bolivia’s child protective services.  The psychologists at NPH help the children understand by moving past these experiences, providing weekly individual counseling services so that the children can live normal and healthy lives. The counselors also host group sessions on conflict resolution, values, sexual education, and positive behavioral skills.

When I think of the term “orphanage,” many words and associations come to mind. NPH surprised me and defied all these associations with its responsible children, dedicated staff and supportive programs.  It proved its namesake as a ‘home’ by truly providing a household environment for Bolivia’s must vulnerable children, and ensuring that despite their tragedies, their lives were once again filled with the support and comfort of family.

GET INVOLVED!