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Give to Girls: My Most Rewarding Sales Bonus Ever

I got the news on a Thursday afternoon, in February 2012. Our sales team had completed a stellar quarter at Google, and the email notified me that I could expect a handsome bonus in a few weeks time.

As my mind raced with ways I could use the extra money,  I thought about my recent volunteer expedition to South America, with Jolkona. I’d been meaning to do something positive once I got back to the U.S.; perhaps a donation was a good place to start. I called up my good friend, Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud, and told her I wanted to make a donation benefiting women and girls. Nadia said, ”Well, rather than a donation, how about making a sponsorship?”

I’d never done something like this before; weren’t sponsors supposed to be big organizations or corporations, and not random tech employees like myself? But together, Nadia and I crafted a plan for Jolkona’s 2nd Annual Give to Girls campaign. I’d match donations, dollar for dollar, to a handful of charities that Jolkona works with — and we decided to approach the women’s network at my office to come on board as a key marketing partner.

My initial thought was to not mention my individual sponsorship in our marketing campaign, keeping it anonymous . The head of our women’s committee thought this was ridiculous. “Absolutely not! We’ll tape a video of you talking about the campaign, and you need to put your name on this.” I was reluctant, but the personal touch seemed to work.  Our community banded together, and the donations came in day by day. I received countless emails from co-workers and friends excited to support our efforts. And one particularly generous coworker of mine, Jessan Hutchison-Quillian, was moved to join me halfway through the campaign as a sponsor.

I never imagined we’d raise $25,000 for girls & women in 2012, and I’m so happy Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is now in its fourth year.

Through my Give to Girls sponsorship, I learned a couple of powerful lessons. First, I witnessed the power of the crowd rather than the individual — we can truly amplify our impact when we give together. Second, I experienced how people around you will rise to the occasion when you share your personal passion for something. Jessan jumping in as a co-sponsor was an unexpected and wonderful example.

During these last few days of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to make a meaningful donation to Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon Nissar leads various giving initiatives at Google. Since 2010, she has volunteered with Jolkona, and has spent six weeks traveling/blogging through South America & South East Asia as part of their Expeditions.

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