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One of the things we’re encouraged to do here at Jolkona is to find projects that resonate with us personally. Jolkona has some 120 projects, so that’s not so hard a thing to do. And the idea is to really invest ourselves in those favorite projects: to learn about them, to draw attention to them, to love them. Our motto – Your choice. Your world. Your impact. – is not just an alluring marketing slogan; it’s an attitude, creed, and work ethic that is congruent with our very own grassroots. And the 12 Days of Giving Campaign epitomizes that spirit. (To understand more about those grassroots, watch this excellent talk given by our CEO, Adnan Mahmud, at last year’s TEDXRainier conference.)

What was the campaign about?

The 12 Days of Giving Campaign saw all of us at Jolkona split into 12 teams. Each team picked a project they wanted to support and set a target for how much they wanted to raise. To promote the project, every team made a video regarding what the project was about and why they were supporting it. Then each on each of the 12 days leading up to December 25th one project was revealed on our campaign page. The goal was to raise as much support as we could to achieve the targets each team set for themselves. Take a look at the creative videos promoting the projects at our campaign page.

What was the impact?

The figures are in. The efforts were sterling. Here is the impact:

6 months of psychological care for 12 orphaned children in Bolivia. Project partner: Friends of Orphans.

12 children in India medicated against life threatening diarrhea. Project partner: Calcutta Kids.

1 month of education for 22 disabled children in Nepal. Project partner: The Rose International Fund for Children.

1 month’s literacy education for 9 children in India. Project partner: India Rural Development Fund.

28 children received night classes in the tsunami-ravaged Prefecture of Migayi in Japan. Project partner: iLeap/Katariba.

7 publications in the Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal. Project partner: Machik.

8 full lunches for Peruvian weavers and their families. Project partner: Awamaki.

2 semesters of text-books, midday meals, and uniform for a child in India. Project partner: Inida Rural Development Fund.

$489 in working capital for aspiring entrepreneurs in India. Project partner: Upaya.

7 Notebooks for youth classes at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Project partner: Pacific Science Center.

6 months of schooling and medical costs for 2 children in Bangladesh. Project partner: Distressed Children & Infants International.

3 months of peer tutoring for a child in the U.S. Project partner: Soccer in the Streets.

The lives of many have been touched; the lives of real people with real needs. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated their time, money, and energy.

The 2011 holiday season, then, was truly a season for giving the gift of impact. Quarter 4 was our best quarter yet at Jolkona, sending $70k to our partners.  And here’s the challenge: that our giving not be something purely seasonal, because the ability to choose is not seasonal; it’s perennial. It’s your choice, your world, your impact.

Make a choice here.

 

A few Thursdays back was the Jolkona Foundation’s holiday party held at one of our wonderful boardmember’s home. It was great to catch up with the other volunteers, but I was most captivated by all the vitality and energy in the room. Everyone there was excited to be part of Jolkona and its numerous accomplishments over the past year. Many of these achievements can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of young people wanting to make a difference.

As a member of the NextGen team, which focuses on engaging youth under 25 in philanthropy, I love seeing the energy and commitment that young people bring to giving. The holidays especially inspire people to make the world a better place. I know that I always feel more motivated during this time of year to donate my time and resources towards those less fortunate. This season is all about feeling thankful for what you have and recognizing that others may not be so fortunate.

During this holiday season, I will use my small change to bring awareness to a cause I feel passionate about: the NextGen team is excited to help prepare kids in the United States to become employable adults as part of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving campaign! This organization has helped thousands of children from all over the US learn the life skills necessary to have professional careers and become more civic-minded through the medium of soccer. I am excited to support a non-profit that inspires the next generation of youth philanthropists. These kids want to make a difference, and with everyone’s support, we can help them reach their goals!

Make a difference here.

 

 

 

The voice of literature in culture

Like many other people I’m sure, one of my very favorite books of all time is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I consider it truly brilliant, and it has had a remarkable influence on me. When Salinger died in January of 2010, the tributes lauding his talent flooded the media. One phrase I recall reading by several different writers was that Salinger “defined a generation.” (You could argue he defined two). Such praise is deservedly lofty and not handed out on a whim. But what does this have to do with Machik’s Women’s Writing Program? A lot.

And here’s why: giving a voice through literature is – and has been for a very long time – an integral part of what we understand as “culture.” Deeper than that, the voice of literature within culture is inextricably conjoined with identity, whether it be on a wide or personal scale, which is precisely why we say of writers, ‘he/she defined a generation.’ We say it because we identify with that particular literary voice; it’s as if the voice is speaking for us. We perhaps take this truth for granted, but when you stop to consider it, you can truly appreciate how invaluable those voices are to us, how much they have shaped the narrative of not only our own lives but that of an entire country. This, then, is what Machik’s Women’s Writing Program in Tibet is going some way to achieve for the culture and identity of Tibetans.

Two historic Tibetan publications

In 2004, under the auspices of Professor Palmo Tso, Machik sponsored the development of two historic publications: the first ever anthology of Tibetan women’s writing, and the first print newsmagazine on Tibetan women’s affairs, The Land of Snow Tibetan Women’s Journal. Yes, these are the first ever of their kind for women’s literature in Tibet. Just think of the myriad anthologies of British and American women’s literature in comparison. Then think how rich Tibetan language and culture is, and how powerful a component women’s voices must be (or should be) within that. And yet this surface has only just begun to be scratched.

Breaking the shackles of marginalization

Ultimately, though, beyond culture and identity, giving Tibetan women a recognized voice through literature is about empowerment; empowerment against gender inequality. Women’s literacy rate in Tibet, for example, is that of approximately one third compared to men’s. And in a country where voices are largely marginalized, women’s especially, it becomes abundantly clear the scale of the struggle Tibetan women face. In the light of such facts, Machik’s Women’s Writing Program, and the projects it has brought to fruition, become all the more extraordinary. Not only that, they become all the more critical. This is why we as the Intern Team here at Jolkona have chosen to support this project for the 12 Days of Giving Campaign. Here’s our very bookish campaign video:

Give Tibetan Woman a voice

We’re asking for donations starting at $5 in order to support the publication of twelve stories or essays by Tibetan women in the tri-annual Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal, which is produced both in print and digitally. $40 covers the publishing costs of one story or essay. By donating you contribute to the improvement of women’s literacy and education, whilst helping give Tibetan women a conduit to greater empowerment and gender equality. In this way, you assist in shaping the narrative of not only the personal lives of the Tibetan women, but also the very narrative of Tibet as a whole. That is no small privilege.

So if you care about gender equality, if you love to read, or if you’ve ever read a book by a woman and enjoyed it, then give here via our campaign page.

Give Tibetan woman a voice – through literature.

 

 

Image credit: Flickr

Did December sneak up on you, too? We couldn’t be more excited that it has– it’s a time for hot cocoa, good company, holiday parties and (best of all) giving selflessly. The mood shifts. We’re suddenly connecting with the people we pass on the street, exchanging a smile or a gentle “hello.” I remember holiday shopping as a child, looking to my Mom for a dollar or two to drop in the Salvation Army bucket. Even today, hearing those bells ring, raises a certain sense of comfort in my heart. It’s no wonder, then, that 67% of us get excited for this time of year, and 77% of us are choosing to contribute to nonprofits. Personally, I feel fortunate to be able to combine the two. Will you?
12 Days of Giving starts today! It’s a daily dose of philanthropy for the holidays: 12 different Jolkona teams have dedicated themselves to sharing the love and raising awareness on a certain campaign that speaks to them. We give each team their spotlight for a day, and offer you a chance to make a difference by donating. It’s like our humanitarian holiday wish list and an amazing opportunity to transform someone’s life– someone you may pass by on the street some day.

We all have a dream, a message, or a truth to share with the world. I wish to inspire you to challenge the statistics of holiday spending: $44 million dollars are spent during the holiday season in America– PER HOUR. What percentage of that would you like to see spent bringing a smile to someone or positively impacting a community without the comfortable privileges we enjoy? There are 12 days, 12 campaigns, 12 teams who are sharing their stories with Jolkona. Our goals can be met with your help and support. Get to know each team and the projects that they are passionate about. If one resonates with you, donate! If it doesn’t, share it with someone who may. Drop by drop, your generous contribution– amount is up to you– will create the ripple effect for sustainable, revolutionary change.

Our first team is unwrapping a very special project. Help orphaned or vulnerable Bolivian children by providing them with psychologists and support their psychological growth. Their goal? 72 months of care for these kids. Check out their video below, and get more information about the project here:

Join us.

Stay connected on Facebook, follow our tweets (#12daysgive), or check the blog to unwrap the 12 gifts we are sharing with you over the next 12 days.
The impact you can make is limitless. Here are four ways you can personally generate change and inspire others:

Start a campaign
Donate to one of the 12 Days of Giving campaigns
Give a Jolkona gift card
Your business and Jolkona

Less money, more need

Since the financial crisis of 2008 and its enduring aftermath, nonprofits have had to wrestle with a trying dichotomy: people have less money to give, but the need for giving is ever greater. Statistics and examples of those statistics are ubiquitous: read Allegra Abramo’s recent post on current US poverty levels, or watch this sobering story from the BBC, reporting on the dramatic increase of people in the UK turning to foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their families. As if the statistics weren’t bad enough, the financial crisis also threatens to incapacitate those who have remained largely unaffected with an insidious weapon: fear. With erratic markets, stagnant house prices, and banks slapping on new charges to an already exhaustive list of customer fees, the reluctance to make financial commitments has perhaps never been greater.

photo credit: Catherine's photo stream on Flikr

The affects of the crisis on nonprofits and philanthropic giving

The statistics concerning the affects of the financial crisis on nonprofits and philanthropic giving are a mixed bag: some dire; some surprisingly optimistic. From as early as 2009 the Institute of Philanthropy reported severe financial losses for major Foundations in the US, whilst also documenting that over 1000 nonprofits in the UK – an unprecedented number – were forced to close within twelve months of the crisis beginning. Worryingly, as recent as this last September, more than a quarter million nonprofits in the US were set to lose their tax-exempt status as a result of them being out of commission. On the giving side of things, earlier this year Philanthropy UK reported that donations from the wealthiest philanthropists dropped by 33%, and that donations to larger nonprofits had dropped by 11%. These last two statistics seem to confirm that the atmosphere of fear surrounding financial commitments has also pervaded philanthropic giving: people with money – even plenty of it – are less willing to give. The fall of 11% also begs the question of whether donors are being turned off by larger nonprofits. Whereas once people might have been more carefree about philanthropic giving and thus comfortable with allowing their donations to end up in the general funds of the more visible and well known organizations, now donors, rightly so, want more control. They desire to know where their donation is going, how much is going where, and they deserve to see the impact their donation makes.

The Jolkona model and its next generation of philanthropists

What, then, of the cases of surprising optimism I mentioned? Enter Jolkona stage left. One of the many remarkable facts about Jolkona is that we were born in the very midst of the financial crisis, June 2009. And one part of Jolkona’s success is centered around the fact that we offer the opportunity to give online, an area of philanthropy that, although only accounts for 10% of giving compared to 90% offline giving (according to a survey carried out by Blackbauk), is showing remarkable popularity. And the other part of Jolkona’s success is that we understand that average donations are modest, which is why we encourage micro-donations. This, then, forms the back bone of our core value: to encourage and empower the next generation of philanthropists through our transparent micro-giving platform.

So if the wealthiest philanthropists of yesteryear are falling short of the mark, then the next generation of philanthropists are donating through Jolkona and are stepping up to the plate, every small donation – every drop of water – at a time. Read this blog post to get a taste of the accomplishments donors made through Jolkona in 2010.

6 ways to give through Jolkona

Here, then, are six great ways you can give through Jolkona:

1. Give to our current Eat Local, Give Global campaign partnered with Bill the Butcher shops.

2. Give to the i4Japan project. See also Kayleigh Maijala’s blog post for more details

3. Give to the up and coming 12 Days of Giving campiagn. More to follow soon! Here’s last year’s campaign page for a flavor.

4. Send a Jolkona Gift Card to your friends, family, or colleagues. You name the quantity, they name the project.

5. Dedicate a gift to someone. You make the donation, they get the proof.

6. Start your own campaign with Jolkona.

If you give, say, $10 to a Jolkona project, then $10, and not a penny less, will go to that project. Always.  What is more, you receive proof of the direct impact your donation has made. Jolkona, therefore, answers boldly to the financial crisis by eliminating distrust from philanthropic giving, and by showing you that your pockets don’t have to be deep to make a difference.

 

 

Maheen with the children at Distressed Children International clinics

About three weeks ago, I walked into a room with a bench on one side and a desk on the other. There was another room in the back with a curtain partition for privacy. There was a doctor on the other side consulting with a patient I walked back into the waiting room, there was a mother there that had come in with her baby. The baby was strangely silent, and the mother was mentioning that her child had a constant fever and she didn’t know what was wrong. This “room” that I had walked into was one of DCI’s (Distressed Children & Infants International) clinics in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The clinic cares for and provides medical supplies and prescriptions to those cannot afford it and have nowhere else to go.

What led me to this clinic in Bangladesh was the Jolkona campaign I was a part of called the 12 Days of Giving. I decided to promote a health related project in Bangladesh and chose to support the DCI sponsored clinic, as public health is an interest of mine. I had never raised funds for anything prior to this experience nor had I promoted any type of project before! To be perfectly honest, I was attempting to pick whichever project I thought would be easily marketable so I would have a remote chance of fulfilling the looming $1,000 target goal. Not until I had a chance to visit the clinic and an orphanage also sponsored by DCI, and actually see those that were positively affected by the money raised, did I realize what $1,000 in Bangladesh really means.

Think about the anxiety that you feel when you’re sick for a couple of days and don’t know what is wrong. Not fun, huh? Now multiply this feeling times 100 to emphasize what toll that it takes on those “living” on the streets of Dhaka. The grave impact is felt not only because they do they not know what’s wrong with them when they’re sick, they know that they absolutely cannot walk into a hospital and get help, and whatever they have will probably only get worse.

Maheen with the children at Distressed Children International clinics

There are 450,000 children who live on the streets of Bangladesh and 30,000 die everyday due to circumstances of poverty. Through the DCI orphanage and with very little money, about 20 of these children are taken off the streets and are provided with healthcare, a good education, food, and shelter. With $10, a baby is provided with doctor care and relief. As demonstrated by the patients and kids at the DCI projects, a couple of dollars does not mean much to us here, but can most likely save a life and provide a child with a chance of having chance to enjoy a view of what life without poverty could really be…a reality.

I will never think about this project, these children, or $1,000 the same way again.

Maheen Aman is the Campus Outreach Lead for Jolkona and is extremely passionate about global health and development. She recently went on a global adventure that took her to Bangladesh and Turkey. This is a snapshot of one of her adventures.

Happy holidays everyone! It’s been a few months since I’ve written and my silence in the blogosphere is conversely proportional to how busy I’ve been working for RDF in Hyderabad. As the Public Relations and Development Manager, I’ve been editing and designing our annual report, spearheading the Sponsor a Child program, project managing a documentary on RDF, giving fundraising presentations, and all sorts of other exciting but time-consuming projects. When trying to decide what to write about in this blog post, I initially wanted to focus on the challenges of raising funds in India—yet the more I dug around and reflected upon the challenges I have had, I realized these challenges are much more systemic and complex than I initially thought.

It comes down to the circle of giving. Giving not just money, but time, energy, and other resources. The more that I reflect on my fundraising challenges in India, I realize they aren’t unique to money but all elements of giving. Not only does RDF have challenges fundraising in India, but also trouble recruiting local volunteers and gaining in-kind donations.

Giving money

It is clear that this is reflected globally with the recession and budget cuts, but looking further, it is more than that. Giving is really a societal value, one that is reflected in the types of widespread programs and opportunities available to those who give their time and resources. And being here, it has become clear that the ways people give in India are quite different than the ways in which they give in the West.

For example, when fundraising for dollars, a major struggle has been routing money from individuals to causes rather than to religious institutions. Although I realize that this is a gross generalization and that of course many Indians donate to social causes and human development, it seems at least from the trends I’ve personally encountered that people here seem much more willing to give to their temples, mosques, and churches rather than to the local nonprofit. Of course with 40% of the population living under the poverty line, it’s no wonder that giving in general is an issue. It’s clear though, that even out of those who are living financially abundant lives in India, many have strong beliefs about where to allot dispensable money and RDF, at least, isn’t at the top of their list.

Giving time

Another challenge is that of giving time. Many of RDF’s volunteers come from all corners of the world to give their time in Hyderabad as well as the village schools, often wonder, why aren’t there more locals doing this same work?

The answer from the CEO was multifaceted: part of it clearly is the lack of effort put in so far to FIND viable candidates locally, part of it is the work ethic and global perspective RDF enjoys from foreign volunteers, and part of it is the lack of a volunteer culture in India. Many of us were asked, ‘Why do we volunteer?’ ‘Well, because we are fortunate to have the resources to take some time off and gain international experience and because it adds value to our work history moving forward in our careers.’ Programs like the Peace Corps and hundreds of volunteer programs in the U.S. make it clear that our society is garnered to reward volunteering, whether it is through better jobs in the future or better admission into grad school. In India, on the other hand, I’ve gotten reactions like ‘Why are you wasting your time??’ and ‘Why don’t you get a real job?’ Again, gross generalizations, but there is something to the consistent reactions in this manner here that has me thinking.

Changing the circle

How do we embed the values of giving in our day-to-day lives such that more people are rewarded for their giving habits? Grad school admissions and tax cuts for donations are great, but I strongly believe it’s up to us as an upcoming generation to mold the way for a new paradigm of giving. That we encourage each other to give on a regular basis, that we teach our children the values of giving during the holidays, that we emphasize the different methods of giving—that it’s always possible to give, even when money is tight.

In particular, I love Jolkona’s Social Portfolio – a way to share how you give with your network. This holiday season, I encourage all of you to discuss with friends and family how you plan to contribute to the circle of giving. The more we are rewarded for our giving habits, the more we will give, and the more we are all contributing to the greater good.

How have you experienced or changed the circle of giving?

P.S. As a shameless plug, if you need an idea for a particular place to give, Day 5 of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving is a great place to start. Happy giving everyone!

Photo Credit: Mindful One

Okay, not really. But seven Jolkona volunteers, including co-founders Nadia Khawaja Mahmud and Adnan Mahmud, are traveling to Africa to spend the holidays visiting our partner organizations in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Their mission: Experience Jolkona’s impact first-hand.

We’ve reached a critical point in our mission and giving model where seeing the actual impact the Jolkona community is making, face-to-face with those we help, is invaluable. Aside from the humanitarian aspect, the goal of this trip is to learn how we can continue to move the needle with our giving platform in the most effective way possible.

It’s one thing to facilitate change through our web platform, but it’s another thing to experience the impact we’re making on the ground and help tell those stories. All while gaining a better understanding how donations change a person’s life, strengthening our partnerships, and what we can do to continue to make giving more impactful around the world.

Team Africa will be visiting partners at the following projects:

To celebrate, Team Africa is launching two campaigns as part of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving. Both campaigns support projects that Team Africa will be visiting during their trip.

  1. Provide clean water for about 400 rural kids in Kenya

    By supporting this project, a donation of $100 will provide ten locally-produced water filters to provide clean water for about 40 children in Kenya. Each donation of filters includes training on water safety and filter maintenance and helps ensure environmental sustainability for these communities.

  2. Help 20 rural youth attend a soccer tournament and receive public health education in Kenya

    This holiday season, we’re asking our friends and family to please help us to give about scholarships to 20 kids living in rural villages in Kenya the opportunity to attend a 4-day soccer tournament where they will also receive health screening, preventative health care, and public health education. You can help promote health awareness by donating $27.

When you contribute the full amount to a project, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation. You can also give  different amounts, starting at $5, though you will not receive a proof for a partial gift.

Stay tuned to our blog, on Facebook and Twitter as we share Team Africa’s photos, videos, and stories published from Africa and after. Also be sure to follow Nadia (@nadiamahmud) and Adnan (@adnanmahmud) on Twitter as they’re posting some great live updates.

Please Note: We are pleased to announce this trip is a 100% funded by the volunteers who have graciously given of their own time and money. No funds from Jolkona have been used to sponsor any portion of this trip.

The holidays – ‘tis the season to be cheery and bright, generous and humble, and, oh yeah, give. Even in this tough economy, nearly six out of 10 Americans plan to donate to organizations less fortunate this holiday season. For many families, giving charitable gifts has become a part of their holiday tradition.

12 Days of Giving

On the first day of giving, my true love gave to humanity — 20 weeks of health screening, and a proof of impact for each week.

In the spirit of giving back, the Jolkona team is celebrating the holidays by launching 12 Days of Giving, a series of campaigns for their favorite projects. On each day, we’ll unwrap one new campaign along with a message about what makes it so special.

Today we unwrap our first campaign, which is lead by Tysen Gannon, the Director of Corporate Partnerships here at Jolkona.

Ready to help Tysen provide 20 weeks of health screenings for people living in Bangladesh and make an impact this season? You can give one full gift ($50) and you will receive the full proof for your donation. Or if you’re not ready to give the full amount, you can donate a partial gift. For both options, you have the option to dedicate this gift to someone you care about.

Keep an eye on the 12 Days of Giving as we unwrap a new campaign each day. You can also follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for updates on the campaign.

Looking for ways to incorporate charitable giving into your holiday?

Join us and give impact this holiday season; here is a list of ideas to get you started:

  1. Donate to one of the 12 Days of Giving campaigns
  2. Give a Jolkona Gift Card to someone you care about
  3. Start your own campaign
  4. Bring Jolkona to your business

How will you give impact this holiday season?

Photo Credit: Mukumbura

GET INVOLVED!