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.



Part 1 of our Bill the Butcher interview series

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Jon now lives in Columbia City here in Seattle. After being laid off from a cushy desk job, Jon turned his back on the sedentary life style altogether and decided to take up something entirely different: butchery. Now you can find him in the Bill the Butcher shop in Madison (next door to a vegetarian restaurant of all places!), where he’s busy serving his customers top quality, sustainable, affordable meat. Ask him what the best thing about being a butcher is, and he’ll tell you straight and simple: the meat. And in a shop like Bill the Butcher, that makes a lot of sense. Jon is a deft wielder of butchering utensils, he has a sharp (!) sense of humor, would take winter over summer, and likes his coffee black. Here’s a short excerpt of our interview:

What are your thoughts on the Eat Local, Give Global campaign?
I think it’s great. It would be valuable to do it in this country, too, to educate farmers and consumers about sustainable farming. Of course there is great need in parts of the world like Sudan. So yeah, it’s certainly a worthwhile cause.

How do you see your role in sustainable farming?
Well, it’s pretty important. We’re the the middlemen between the farmers and the consumers. Obviously without us, farmers would have a harder time getting their product out there, and the same goes for the consumers being able to buy it. So we’re a good outlet, I suppose. It’s all a part of the sustainable farming cycle.

How does it work out being next door to a vegetarian restaurant?
It actually works out pretty well. They get busy on the weekend and we have a lot of people from over there waiting for their tables that come around here and take a look. And a lot of the times they actually come back and order something.

Why is your shop better than the other Bill the Butcher shops in Seattle?
Because I work here!

Which Bill the Butcher shop is going to come in last in the Great Meat Race?
Can there be a five-way tie for last? – because that’s what it’s going to be.

If you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
Brisket – it’s tough and fatty.

Are you or have you ever been a vegetarian?
No. No. How dare you?

If you were a cow, which kind would you be?
Hopefully the kind that doesn’t get eaten.

Do you have any good party tricks?
None that I can show you.

And 3 words to describe natural grass fed beef:
Delicious. Healthy. And…. can I use delicious again?!

The Eat Local, Give Global campaign is all about raising money to help implement sustainable farming techniques for women farmers in Sudan through supporting sustainable farming here in the U.S. We’re running the campaign in partnership with Bill the Butcher and its six shops in and around Seattle. Donate online, or go directly to your local shop, meet the friendly butchers themselves, and donate there.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

Remember: each store is in competition with the others to raise the most money. This is called the Great Meat Race. If you want the Madison shop to win, donate to the campaign here and join its community.




Jolkona Team

Image credit: Karen Ducey

A few weeks ago, I attended the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch held at the Seattle Center. This event provided support by highlighting and donating funds to organizations aimed at making a positive impact in the community. Among the finalists, a remarkable number of groups were founded by local high school and college students. These students saw problems that existed in the world and used ingenuity to craft effective solutions. I loved hearing a recent high school graduate discuss how she was inspired to create her non-profit after observing how alienated disabled student felt from their peers. Despite her youth, she is making a tangible difference in the world.

As a recent college graduate myself, I am happy to see that young people are getting their due credit as a powerful force in philanthropy. Students and the under-25 year old demographic are increasingly more engaged with the world and addressing disparities. Through internet and smart phones, we are readily connected to all parts of our global community. Minutes after the devastating earthquake hit Japan last March, Twitter feeds and news articles exploded with images and information. Immediately, youth from Japan and beyond engaged in the global response; donating time, money and resources to help the cause. It was inspiring to see young people work together to aid in relief efforts in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

As part of the team for NextGen powered by Jolkona, I feel lucky to be part of our efforts to engage more young people in philanthropy. I first started with Jolkona because I wanted to help but didn’t know how. The wide variety of projects along with proof that my pledge made a tangible impact inspired me to do more than just be a donor. It interested me in engaging more of my peers in philanthropy. It doesn’t take a huge financial pledge or large time commitment to make a difference. We’re in a time of giving where people can pool a little to create a significant impact; for example, one $5 donation helps a rural Guatemalan child become computer literate. Together, we can help an entire community become educated. Everybody can turn their small change into big change!

Japan is still suffering.

Image credit: kaspernybo on Flickr

Remembering Tohoku

Here at Jolkona, we’re reflecting on Tōhoku– Japan is still suffering. It has only been half a year since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake evolved into a devastating tsunami. Consuming cars, houses, and buildings in minutes, it resulted in more than 15,000 confirmed deaths and over 4,000 people missing. Efforts to bring support have generated recovery, and the reactions of Japanese natives away from home are inspiring.

Nurturing Hope

Ryo Ishikawa’s generous donations to relief efforts through the Master’s golf tournament in April, and the numerous disaster response teams have engendered hope for the Japanese people. Though the urgency of the horrific crisis has died down, there are still unresolved issues and complications.

Immediately following a disaster, many needs are funded after an analysis of the damage. This takes time and can stall the effects of your contribution or potentially negate any authenticity of your generous actions. This was depicted in many of the misconceptions that developed with the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The beginning of positive change is the rebuilding stage. We are excited to announce a new nonprofit partner who is introducing you to four new projects that fuel life-changing opportunities to help this process.

Welcome iLEAP, presenting transformative projects in Japan that support their currently challenging circumstances. iLEAP is a Seattle-based nonprofit that equips young entrepreneurs with training and educational knowledge, collaboration with global leaders. They send their equipped volunteers to inspire empowerment and give opportunities for growth to societies in need.

Support one, two, or all four projects through Jolkona:

Prevent Postpartum Depression for Mothers in Japan

Women who are giving birth after such a stressful chain of events are local heroes, bringing renewal and promise of a new generation to rebuild the world. Prevent emotionally painful postpartum depression among Japanese mothers by providing physical health through community fitness classes, for $50, or educational materials for $15.

Help Tsunami Affected Children Return to School

Onagawa Night School is providing education for children who have lost their homes, possessions, and families.
Philanthropic tip: Commute to work by bus for a month, and support three children as they attend night school in the Tsunami affected area for 60$.

Sponsor Young Fellows to Help Earthquake Victims

Young Fellows is a strong group of dedicated people who contribute community support to inspire confidence in those who are struggling. Philanthropic tip: Host a dinner party instead of going out, and donate $70 to sponsor a young fellow for an entire day in Japan.

Help Japanese Non-Profits Receive Tax Exempt Status

Giving is a chain that links eternally, inspiring the power of the human heart. Japanese non-profits require lengthy paperwork and certifications in order to gain tax-exempt status, which will often break the chain of any nonprofit. Your donation of $100 would bring one group to an educational event rich with experience to successfully begin their project.

Know Your Impact

With every donation you make through Jolkona, you will receive personalized feedback: a unique proof for the person or project that you have generously supported.

How do you wish to contribute? Can’t decide? Explore this flowchart to guide you:

Explore this flowchart!

Image by Mike Sturgeon, Graphic Design Jolkona Intern

To learn more about our projects for Japan relief, visit

Why global development?

Everyone’s heard of “global development,” sure. A thousand times no less. We all kind of get it. And we all kind of don’t. It’s the type of phrase that, when mentioned in the media or conversation, draws us largely to nod our heads knowingly as we acknowledge its familiarity and “importance.” Yet at the same time, somewhere in our subconscious, it’s shrouded in uncertainty. Most of us will perhaps envisage an ambiguous umbrella term for a collection of macrocosmic goings on in a place which isn’t our country, and that certainly has little – if nothing – to do with our local habitats.

Of course, I’m going to tell you we’re wrong, because unbeknown to a multitudinous amount of people in the Pacific North West (I used to be one of them) is this startling statistic: one out of every three jobs in the state of Washington is, in some way or another, related to foreign trade and the evolution of international communities. In fact, Washington impacts international trade more than any other state in the country. If you like number crunching: annually, Washington exports over $53 billion worth of goods and services, reaching every country in the world. Suddenly global doesn’t sound so global after all. Indeed, global is local. The macrocosm becomes the microcosm.

Get global. Get involved

11.1.11 is Global Action Day. Over 300 nonprofits are involved. Jolkona is proud to be one of those nonprofits, and Global Washington is pulling the whole thing together. (Read Nadia Eleza Khawaja’s recent post for more background details.) The ways you can get involved are so numerous you wouldn’t believe it. Just a handful of examples are:

At Jolkona there is not one single project which isn’t in some way connected to global development, and here are but a few:

For more information about other ways of getting involved, go to the Global Action Day act page:

Global is local

If one thing needs to be reiterated, it’s this: giving time, money, energy to global development does not mean contributing to something far away and unassociated; it means investing in a fabric that, although perhaps intangible in the immediate, is tightly woven into our very own communities, whether the cause is on our doorstep or 5,000 miles away. Global development is local development.

Note: Statistics taken from Global Washington:


During the 20th century, the state of Washington built a reputation for its airplanes, timber, software and coffee. What will carry us through the next century are products tied to an entirely different class of needs: the need for good health, food, shelter, a chance for a better life.

As you know, with over 300 international NGO’s—including the world’s biggest NGO, World Vision, and largest foundation, Gates Foundation—Washington state has become a leader in international development. This year Global Washington, a Seattle based membership based non-profit that promotes the global development sector, wants to put Washington state on the map for this incredible achievement with the help of their 150 member based partners.

This month, if you commuted on a Washington State ferry you may have seen posters promoting the global development sector. If you listen to KPLU or KUOW, you may have heard radio spots highlighting this work. If you’ve traveled on Alaska Airlines recently, you may have read an article about Global Washington and the sector in their in-flight magazine, and if you read the Puget Sound Business Journal you will have seen an ad in this week’s edition highlighting the amazing work of the global development sector in Washington.

Global Action Day is coming: 11.1.11

Global Washington wants to use our collective power to raise awareness about the importance of global development. Together with the Mayor of Seattle they’ve launched an advocacy campaign called “Global Action Day” designed to do two things:

1. Make people aware of the great work coming out of WA state, and

2. Mobilize people to action. Specifically, were urging people to write congress to help protect US Foreign Aid.

To further raise awareness about global development in our state, Global Washington is hosting 2011 Annual Global Washington Conference on 11.1.11 called “Opportunities and Obstacles in Turbulent Times” and I’m honored to be speaking on a panel on the Future of Fundraising. If you’d like to attend, please register for the conference here: Global Washington 2011 Conference: Opportunities and Obstacles in Turbulent Times.

Also, I hope you can help promote global action day to raise awareness about the work all of us in global development do. Visit the Global Action Day website for more info on how to get involved and make sure you tweet using the hashtag: #globalwaday.

Washington: The Global State from Incite on Vimeo.

Late July of this last summer, Jolkona raised money through our Groupon campaign to fund women grassroots leaders to come to Seattle and participate in a 10 week training program. The deal was this: for every $500 raised, Jolkona would fund one week of training for one woman. In addition, all funds raised would be munificently matched by Seattle International Foundation, and then implemented by iLEAP. Let me say right now that it was – and continues to be – a brilliant success, and on so many levels. And here’s why:

The total raised from the 3 day Groupon campaign, plus the additional donations since then, including the generous match from SIF, is a vertiginous $20,000! (I’m not usually one for wielding exclamation points in my grammar, but that one is thoroughly warranted.) And with that amount raised, Jolkona was able to fund fellowships for two women for the entire 10 week training program. Please, allow me to introduce them to you:

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar is from Honduras – she is a Sociology and Law professor at CEUTEC-UNITEC in La Ceiba, and is coordinator at GOjoven Honduras, where she is involved in promoting women’s rights, especially those pertaining to reproductive and sexual health, as well as in combating violence against women.


Margaret Edwin Molomoo is from India. She works for Tarumitra, where she educates students, farmers, and women about the methods and benefits of organic farming in villages surrounding Bahir. Her work has assisted many farming groups in changing their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in their farming practices.

Thanks to the funds raised, Claudia and Margaret, already stalwart pursuers of a fairer society, are now even better equipped to grow their successful, high-impact programs.

In connection with this, we are inviting you to the extraordinary annual Women in the World’s Breakfast, held at the Four Seasons in Seattle, where you can meet our fellows, Claudia and Margaret, in the flesh. Buy tickets here. And to whet your appetite, here’s the inspiring video of last year’s event:

The raising of the funds and the opportunity and skills it provided Claudia and Margaret were not the only success stories of this campaign. Another aspect deserving of sincere pats on the back was the campaign’s collaboration: the three-pronged spearhead of SIF, iLEAP, and Jolkona. You see, unfortunately, too many nonprofits try to go at campaigns alone, and what this campaign exemplifies is the exponential difference nonprofits can make when they work together. Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved.

Our goal is to fund 5 women; so far we’ve funded 2. The campaign is still running and SIF is still matching every one of your donations, dollar for dollar. Make a difference. See the results. Give to the campaign here: Invest in Women Grassroots Leaders from Around the World.

What do coffee, a five-dollar bill, and rainforests have in common? Coffee is one of the top ten commodities of the world. In the U.S., most handcrafted lattes and espresso beverages fall somewhere under five dollars. Sadly, rainforests are often compromised to accommodate the need for growing more crops and delivering the beans to caffeine-loving folks around the world.
Why is this important? We lose between 3 and 6 billion trees annually due to deforestation. Our world population is under 7 billion; imagine losing every person living on this planet each year. That is the effect of harvesting lumber for logging and cultivating farm land to grow crops. The pretty penny spent on many cups of java begins with the coffee beans themselves.


Many countries near the Equator and around oceans harvest coffee beans.

Many countries near the Equator and world oceans harvest coffee beans. Photo credit: Samson Lee

Preserving our Delicate Ecosystems

Let’s look at Brazil: the world’s highest producer of coffee, churning out an impressive 2,249,010 tonnes in 2007 alone. In response to this demand, many coffee harvesters occupied fertile soil, eradicating many of the lush vegetation in that space. As an effect of this type of production, many forests and habitats have disappeared. By removing the trees, the goal was to maximize the growth period of the coffee plants (via photosynthesis) in order to yield even more product at a faster rate. However, this creates detrimental effects on our global environment such as atmospheric warming and near extinct species of exotic animals.
There is a solution. Allowing native trees to flourish among coffee crops generates seed dispersal from birds, giving birth to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. Attracting multiple species of trees is ideal, because the sprouting vegetation that results often unite empty spaces present in rainforests today. This process may also reverse the effects of deforestation over time, Jha claims.  Read the entire report on Shalene Jha and Christopher Dick’s exploration in shade-grown coffee and how it improves the effects of deforestation.

Natural landscapes like this are losing their chance to be preserved.

Natural landscapes like this are losing their chance to be preserved. Photo credit: rumpleteaser

World Rainforest Week

World Rainforest Week is October 10-16; a time of reflection and appreciation for the flora and fauna of every lush forest in the world. Burundi, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mali, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Senegal are all recognized under Jolkona’s Tree Planting project with “Trees for the Future.”

This year for National Coffee Day on September 29th, I donated to this project by supplying Brazil with 50 more trees.

This week, I challenge you by trading one latte, cappuccino, or cup of drip for 50 trees to replenish our world loss of 3 to 6 billion trees annually. As always, a Jolkona “thank you” for your donation will be real-time updates from our partner about your gracious contribution. Every drop counts, and even one new tree is an additional contributor to future growth!

To learn more about shade-grown coffee and other environmentally conscious actions you can take, visit Green Bean Coffee’s website and

Note from the Editor: This is a guest post written by Steve Schwartz, Director of Strategy & Operations for one of Jolkona’s newest partners, Upaya Social Ventures.

Meet Upaya Social Ventures from Steve Schwartz on Vimeo.

From the U.S., it is easy to see images of households in far away countries living in a way that looks different than our own and to assume that the differences — a tin roof, a barefoot schoolboy, a pot cooking over an open fire — fit neatly within a universal definition of “poverty.” But scratch the surface and you’ll find some families never worrying about where their next meal will come from, while 100 yards away others search endlessly to find enough work to eat again tomorrow. Not all poverty is created equal, and that relative difference is what Upaya Social Ventures was founded this year to address. An estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide are classified as “ultra poor,” living on less than $1.25 a day and struggling to find work that will pay them enough to afford stable shelter, clean water and three meals a day. The ultra poor often speak of feeling trapped in miserable conditions, with such meager earnings that any progress they make satisfying one need comes at the expense of meeting another. At the very heart of the problem are informal livelihoods — a cluster of irregular activities like shoe-shining, begging, day labor, hawking of second-hand items and trash picking that generate highly unpredictable incomes for those working in them.

Day laborers breaking rocks in a dry riverbed for an average ~$.50 per day

Day laborers breaking rocks in a dry riverbed for an average ~$.50 per day

The Upaya Approach

That’s where Upaya comes in. Taking its name from the Sanskrit word that means “skilled means” and connotes a creative solution to a challenging problem, Upaya is working with local social entrepreneurs to build businesses that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for the ultra poor. It’s a deceptively simple solution — increase a family’s earning potential through steady employment, and pair those jobs with access to affordable healthcare, education, housing and financial services so that the family makes sustained progress out of poverty.

But it is not always that simple, as the ultra poor are marginalized even within their own communities and skeptical of outsiders with “too good to be true” opportunities. For the entrepreneurs, too, there is a struggle to balance social responsibility with running a profitable business, and to attract funding to test their ideas.

Mothers reliant on begging to provide for their families

Mothers reliant on begging to provide for their families

This is why Upaya has created the Life-changing Interventions for the Ultra Poor (LiftUP) Project, a 24–36 month social business accelerator program that provides management support and financial resources to entrepreneurs who create jobs or improve access to basic services for the ultra poor. As a nonprofit organization, Upaya is able to make modest, longer-term equity investments — between $25,000 and $75,000 — in local entrepreneurs with early-stage ideas (any financial returns generated by investments are re-invested in future LiftUP Project partners). In addition to providing business development support, we also help these entrepreneurs create a “social accounting” system for tracking and analyzing the impact their activities are having on the lives of their employees or customers.

An Ideal Partner

And that is what brought Upaya to Jolkona. As Upaya works with businesses to monitor their social impact, we also have a unique opportunity to give donors a forum to track the progress of the causes and businesses they support. Through the Jolkona platform, donors will be able to see quarterly updates on employees’ quality of housing, improvements in the number and nutritional value of meals, status of children’s education and access to affordable healthcare. Upaya is taking a comprehensive approach to tackling the problems of extreme poverty, and Jolkona allows supporters to be active participants in that process.

In part two of this series, we will profile Samridhi, a community dairy initiative in one of the poorest states in India that is creating jobs and providing regular salaries to women in households without any other form of steady income. Upaya has already raised $45,000 for Samridhi since the beginning of August and is looking to double that amount by the end of September.

About the author: Steve is the Director of Strategy & Operations for Upaya Social Ventures, and is one of the organization’s co-founders.  In a career that has run from Wall St. to the footpaths of smuggling routes in West Africa, Steve has long held the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to live their lives with dignity and means.


Ensure environmental sustainability

As we near the end of our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and how they relate to Jolkona, we look this week at environmental sustainability.


There are four targets the UN sets for achievement of goal 7:

  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss
  3. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  4. By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Expansive scope

With the exception of the first goal of eliminating extreme hunger and poverty, perhaps no other goal is as broad reaching as goal 7. Any one of the targets of goal 7 could likely be a goal unto themselves. Sustainable development and the preservation of rain forests has a huge impact on environment and economics of the developing world. And there are in fact hundreds of millions of people living in slum conditions around the world today. But the target we will focus on today is that of clean drinking water and sanitation.

Clean water

What makes clean water so important? Quite simply, water is life. While it varies somewhat, the average human can only survive three days without water. Because water is so vital to life, many people are forced to drink unclean water because that is all they have available. The problem is a host of horrible diseases–like Cholera and Hepatitis, for example–can be contracted through consumption of dirty or polluted water.

On top of the risk of disease, a huge economic drain is created when people (most often women and children) are forced to walk long distances to acquire water, whether it is clean or not. This travel time is time spent out of school or work. Some estimates place the economic cost, for Africa alone, at $28 BILLION dollars per year.

The good news is that many organizations are doing a great job of drilling wells and working on other clean water projects. The bad news is that even as there are many organizations working on this, it remains a huge issue for billions of people around the globe.

How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects supporting goal 7:

  1. Plant trees in Ethiopia
  2. Provide clean water in Kenya
  3. Provide ceramic water filters in Kenya

For more information about the issue of access to clean water, check out Charity: Water’s great “Why water” page.

End malaria now_bestdamntech

Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases

Continuing our series on how the United Nations Millennium Development Goals relate to Jolkona, we look today at Goal 6.

One of the biggest challenges in development remains combatting the effects of pandemic, preventable disease. One UN report estimates that malaria alone saps up to 1.3% of the yearly economic growth of some African countries. That 1% might not sound like a lot, but when spread across an entire economy over several years, it could mean tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic productivity.

In part for this reason, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #6 is fighting the effects of HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases.

Target metrics

mdg 6

The UN identifies three target metrics for fighting communicable disease.

  1. Have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs by 2015
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDs
  3. Have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of Malaria and other major diseases by 2015

The fight against HIV/AIDs

Currently there are some 34 million people living in the world with HIV. While there is no cure, in the developed world HIV/AIDs rates among the general population remain low and there are treatment options available for managing the disease. In many developing countries however, rates of infection run much higher and few, if any, treatment options are available. Recognizing the role pandemic disease plays in slowing economic development the United Nations Development Programme is one of the agencies at the front of helping countries deal with HIV/AIDs.


While HIV/AIDs and Malaria continue to be huge problems in public health worldwide, it is important to remember that there have been successes in eradicating pandemic diseases before. Smallpox, which killed an estimated 300-500 million people during the 20th century was completely eradicated by 1979 thanks in part to efforts spearheaded by the World Health Organization. And while the fight against Malaria and HIV/AIDs can seem daunting, some hopeful estimates put Polio–another once pandemic disease–near eradication in the near future.

How you can help

Here are some current Jolkona projects working toward Goal 6.

  1. Supply medicine to children in Sierra Leone
  2. Give care to HIV-infected children in Cambodia
  3. Help build latrines in Haiti

Photo Credit: Drew Olanoff

Improve maternal health

Today we look at the fifth goal in our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Goal five is improving maternal health.

Two targets

In achieving goal 5, the UN has two metrics they use for measuring success.

  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare

Maternal mortality

Childbirth is one of the most dangerous activities for women in the developing world. Any number of things can go wrong in the birthing process that endanger not just the health and life of the child, but the mother as well. From hemorrhaging to breech births to infection, thousands of women die every year giving birth.

Just a quick glance at the statistics reveals how much a concern this is in development work. Compare countries like Chad, Somalia and Afghanistan—where over 1000 women die per 100,000 births—with a country like Germany—where just 7 women die per 100,000 births. (Statistics via the World Health Statistics 2011 report.)

Reproductive health

An important part of reducing the maternal mortality rate is making sure all women have access to reproductive healthcare. This ranges from family planning to skilled birthing assistants to clean, sterile birthing environments.

Family planning is one of the best and most certain ways of reducing maternal mortality–fewer births equal less risk for the mother. However, family planning is also a highly controversial topic in many countries where religious or cultural concerns over contraception and discussion of reproductive issues outside of the family is considered taboo.

Far less controversial is access to skilled birthing assistants, especially midwives and medical professionals. Having a trained birthing assistant with sterile medical equipment and a clean environment goes a long way toward eliminating the risk of infection for both the mother and child.

Take a look at this slideshow from the Gates Foundation for the story of a woman in Nepal and the difference access to a birthing assistant made for her.

How you can help

Here is a list of Jolkona projects that work to support the goal of improving maternal health.

  1. Provide medical supplies in Bangladesh
  2. Support safe births in Palestine
  3. Provide healthcare to Nepalese women
  4. Adopt a mother in India

Jolkona team at Pier 66

Here at Jolkona we pride ourselves on having a fun-loving, smart-as-a-whip team. That means recruiting the best and the brightest to join us in our mission! Check out our current openings at our Jolkona world headquarters office located in bustling downtown Seattle. Whether you love wrangling words or prefer to research impressive facts and data, we may be looking for someone just like you! Please click on the position title to learn more about the position and to apply. Or you can submit your resume directly to me, Dania, the director of human resources, at — just make sure you mention what position you are interested in.

Not sure what team to join? Send in your resume and we will match your knowledge, skills and abilities with one of our growing teams!

Director of Corporate Partnerships

  • Start conversations that engage Jolkona’s corporate community and introduce new communities to our mission and vision.
  • Research, identify and engage with individuals that want to work with Jolkona and our mission.
  • Manage and build relationships with our community and those of our corporate partners.
  • Prepare action plans for effective search of leads and prospects.
  • Create and conduct proposals and presentations for corporate partners.
  • Manage and delegate tasks to the corporate partnership team.
  • Recruit corporate social responsibility executives to work as a seamless team.
  • Provide timely feedback to senior leadership regarding performance.

Research Intern*

  • Research specific, impactful topics and manage complex data sets.
  • Work with graphic designers to determine which data sets will make the best infographics.
  • Seek out new and interesting sets of data.
  • *To apply and for more information please email

Editing & Writing Intern

  • Create and maintain editorial calendar for the blog, establish goals for upcoming topics, reach out to the Jolkona team to write posts, edit posts, and deliver in a timely manner.
  • Edit posts for style, grammar and spelling. Select photos to upload with post. Optimize post for selected keywords.
  • Manage the daily and weekly posting of articles and load them into WordPress.
  • Content creation: write blog posts, articles, newsletters, communications materials and material for social media channels.
  • Work with the content team on writing donor and impact stories.
  • Develop and revise content for submission to other sites and channels.
  • Stay up to date on new social media tools, best practices and how other organizations are using them.

Office Manager Intern

  • Help plan bi-weekly leadership team meeting agendas and keep minutes.
  • Help maintain Jolkona calendar.
  • Filing and administrative tasks as needed.
  • Help coordinate emails to nonprofit partners.
  • Assist all teams in the office as needed.

Social Media & PR Intern

  • Generate a plan for community outreach and determine what information is needed to inform and acquire new donors.
  • Identify, research and engage with advocates, blogger passion groups and media influencers.
  • Increase the awareness of Jolkona and our nonprofit partners.
  • Act as a liaison across the Internet by participating in and mediating online conversations, answering questions, offering solutions, creating content for feeds, and sparking discussion on various social networking sites.
  • Social media experience — knows how to use social media for personal and professional use (yes, they are different!).

Please note that all positions volunteer and thus are unpaid.

Child health and mortality

Goal 4 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

What is child mortality?

Child mortality, in this case, is the number of deaths per 1000 children under the age of 5.


According to UNICEF, “Most child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, pre-term delivery or lack of oxygen at birth.” Further, most of these deaths take place in the developing world. Modern public health efforts and medical technologies have largely eliminated the threats of disease and premature birth in the developed world.

This is abundantly clear when looking at the countries where child mortality is highest and lowest:

Bottom 5 –

  1. Chad – 209 deaths by age 5 per 1000 live births
  2. Afghanistan – 199 deaths
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 199 deaths
  4. Guinea-Bissau – 193 deaths
  5. Sierra Leone – 192 deaths

Top 5 –

  1. Japan, Singapore, Cyprus, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia, and Sweden – 3 deaths
  2. Luxembourg and San Marino – 2

The average for countries in the America’s is 18, in Europe it is 13. In Africa, the country average number of child deaths by age 5 is 127!

(via World Health Statistics 2011 report)

What is being done

Fortunately progress is being made on several fronts to improve the health of children under 5 around the globe. Some of this progress is at a very structural level, increasing funding for hospitals and medical clinics to ensure emergency care is necessary in acute cases of illness. Some progress is also being made in vaccination programs, working to eliminate diseases like measles and polio through coordinated vaccine programs.

For more information, and a few laughs, take a look at Hans Rosling’s TEDxChange talk from September of 2010 about progress being made on Goal 4.


How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects that are working toward achieving Goal 4

  1. Save a Young Child from Diarrhea in India
  2. Adopt a Mother in India
  3. Provide Maternal and Child Healthcare in Guatemala

The MDGs and Gender Equality

Promote gender equality and empower women

The third goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is “Promote gender equality and empower women.” This includes equality in education, labor rights, health care, and legal and political access.

Often in the development context, even in situations where all indicators point to progress, women and girls lag behind. For example, a 2008 UNESCO report found that out of an estimated 774million adults who lack basic literacy, 64% are women.

Importance of education

As is often the case in the long-term development context, education is the foundation for real progress. The stated target of goal 3 is, in fact, to eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.

Girls who receive an education have a higher income earning potential than those who do not, between 10% and 20% more for every year of education they complete. With higher income comes a healthier family, as women can buy better food for their children. They can afford to keep their children in school longer, instead of keeping them home to work. Educated women are also more likely to participate in politics, not just by voting but also by running for public office.

Change now

While education is important in the long-term for women in developing countries, they face many pressing short-term issues as well.

Women, whether they have received an education or not, face great discrimination in the work place. They lack equal pay for equal work, lack maternity leave, face sexual harassment, or are not allowed to hold the same jobs or do the same kinds of work as men. A report from UNICEF in 2007 found that while women perform 66% of the world’s “work” and produce 50% of all food, they earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

If women are to meet the short-term metrics of the MDGs, significant political and economic reform must take place in many developing countries. There is hope for change though. CGAP, an independent policy and research center housed at the World Bank, says the following about what happens when women are the focus of micro-finance development programs:

“Women often become more assertive and confident. In regions where women’s mobility is strictly regulated, women have often become more visible and are better able to negotiate the public sphere. Women involved in microfinance may also own assets, including land and housing, and play a stronger role in decision making. In some programs that have been active over many years, there are even reports of declining levels of violence against women.” (via


Making change happen

How you can help

As I am sure you have noticed, Jolkona launched a new campaign with the Seattle International Foundation to provide grassroots leadership training to women from around the world. Though the Groupon deal that helped launch the campaign has ended, you can still contribute through the Jolkona project page.

Here are a list of additional projects Jolkona currently supports that are in line with the Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women.

  1. Provide education to the females of Afghanistan
  2. Support women farmers in Sudan
  3. Ignite girls’ leadership in Pakistan

For more information on the work the United Nations is doing focused on goal 3, take a look at the UN Women MDG page.

  • 1
  • 2