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Opportunity Collaboration 2010 (OC 2010) was an amazing experience for Nadia and me. For those not familiar with Opportunity Collaboration, it brings together close to 300 non-profit leaders, social enterprises, and funders with the goal of spurring conversations and collaboration around poverty alleviation. It is an un-conference where the focus is placed on getting things done versus hearing keynote speakers and panel talks. I have been reflecting on that experience since my return. For me, often times the best way to make a sense of things is to write down my thoughts and this blog post is my attempt to do just that.

One of my favorite discussions at OC 2010 was actually the first session where we analyzed Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. It was a perfect way to start this un-conference. It set the stage for everyone to bring an open, respectful, and cooperative attitude to the rest of the event. The participants of Opportunity Collaboration brought with them rich stories from the field that really added to the depth of the discussions all weekend.

Opportunity to collaborate

As the name implies, the focus of the event was on collaborations and partnerships. Nadia and I had to wear two hats while we were at the conference – seeking out partnership opportunities that we can fund through our web platform as well as meeting with potential funders to support and fund our operations.

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This week I had the opportunity to attend SOCAP10, one of the largest and most influential conferences in the field of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. The conference was themed around discussing the “intersection of money and meaning” and included major players in the field including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, US AID, Omidyar Network, Kiva, and Acumen Fund amongst many others. It was overall a pretty amazing experience to meet so many people who are not only interested in making money but to also making the world better and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.

If you’re new to the social capital market, here are a few keys concepts to understand:

  1. Social capital market – a “new” understanding that charitable dollars are still capital investments of precious resources and thus for-profit ideals should be applied to the non-profit sector to maximize social impact.
  2. Impact investing – Socially responsible investing, also known as socially-conscious or ethical investing, describes an investment strategy which seeks to maximize both financial return and social good.
  3. Social enterprise – organizations that prioritize social mission over profit-making and apply market-based strategies to achieve the social purpose. The movement includes both non-profits that use business models to pursue their mission and for-profit businesses whose primary purposes are social
  4. Social entrepreneur – someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change.
  5. Earned Income Model – a decidedly for-profit model that includes selling services and products as a revenue stream but is increasingly becoming an attractive vehicle for nonprofits.
  6. Crowd-funding – inspired by crowdsourcing, describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people.
  7. Green Jobs Movement – Shift towards jobs that generates electricity using renewable or nuclear fuels, agriculture jobs supplying corn or soy for transportation fuel, manufacturing jobs producing goods used in renewable power generation, equipment dealers and wholesalers specializing in renewable energy or energy-efficiency products, construction and installation of energy and pollution management systems, government administration of environmental programs, and supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research and consulting fields.
  8. Triple Bottom Line – People, planet, profit. TBL expands the traditional reporting framework to take into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial performance.
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I had the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) Conference in Miami. This conference was launched by President Clinton in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. This year I was humbled to be one of 70 non-profit representatives working with youth to be invited to attend the conference, along with 100 university deans, and 1300 university student leaders from around the world.

During this 2-day conference, I had a chance to interact with 100s of people–all brought together  by the common desire to make a sustainable positive impact on the community. The conference included an A-list guestlist including President Clinton to stars like Heather Graham and Pharrell to organizations like Lend for Peace who are using microcredit to help the people in need in the troubled West Bank. However, despite this amazing list of people and organizations in attendance, what inspired me most was meeting the university students and hearing their stories and dreams for change. I was particularly moved by a college freshman I met who I learned became an orphan while she was in high school. She was also pregnant when she became an orphan. Given all her adversity, it would have been so easy for her to give up on education; instead, she found the courage to give birth to her baby and then, to leave her surroundings in Chicago and head south where she is now getting a degree while raising her child.

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This post was written by Tysen Gannon, the Director of Corporate Partnerships here at Jolkona Foundation.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Pacific Northwest Global Donors Conference. One of the central themes that emerged was importance of and benefits associated with giving to projects that empower women. This resonates greatly with the work Jolkona Foundation is doing with our partner organizations around the world, and coincides with women’s history month and Jolkona Foundation’s highlighting women-focused projects.

In her opening address to the international development focused conference, Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, delivered a direct and inspired call-to-action for philanthropists. Ms. Ramdas highlighted the sweeping changes many grassroots women’s organizations have been able to achieve by connecting with grantmakers willing to take risks in funding small projects and organizations. It is often these grassroots groups organizing around simple needs and injustices that offer the clearest and most efficient path to making a measurable difference. Small projects–such as the Global Fund for Women’s contribution to the EcoWomen group in China which fund education and safer handling of pesticides–have achieved remarkable results for women, their health, and, by extension, their families and entire communities.

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