Jolkona has spent the past five years dedicating to bringing transparent and high impact philanthropy to people in need all over the world. With the help of our giving community, we have raised over $700,000 dollars across 45 countries, impacting thousands. However, after gathering five years worth of data, we began to wonder if we were really providing as much impact as possible with such a global focus. What real difference does a thousand dollars make when distributed here and there? What could that money really achieve if it was dedicated to lifting up one country or region at a time?

This was the philosophy that led to the creation of our two newest programs, Lift Bangla and Project Catalyst. Beginning this month, Jolkona will make developing these two programs our primary focus, and we will no longer provide donation opportunities through Give Direct, or Give Together. We believe that these changes will allow us improve our real impact and stay innovative in philanthropy. We hope that you join us as we embark on this new journey.

Lift Bangla takes the model that Jolkona has developed over the last five years – a microgiving platform that provides real feed back for every donation. This time, we will focus on Bangladesh, a growing center of social innovation. We are partnering with Bangladeshi organizations that create new models for healthcare, provide education and many other areas. Previously, finding and funding these projects was a challenge, but we mean to change that with Lift Bangla. As this program develops, we aim to launch Lift in other innovative communities in need.

If you have been following Jolkona in June, you likely saw that the first term of Project Catalyst was a success. This program is another way that we can drive real impact in a developing nation, this time by providing an intensive business development incubator for young social innovators in Indonesia. To learn more about this program, and see the impact it has already had, read the blog pieces covering our first cohort. Our team will dive into selecting the next cohort this month, and the next term of Project Catalyst will begin in October.

Even though we are moving in a new direction, our philosophies are still the same. We are still dedicated to a transparent giving experience that shows real impact. We hope that you join us as we ‘lift’ a new leaf, and once again bring the spirit of innovation into philanthropy. Through August, we will welcome new team members and work on building a thriving community focused on driving social innovation in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Once again, we want to thank our community for supporting us these past five years, and we hope you are as excited as we are to see the future of these new Jolkona initiatives. Stay tuned for more updates!

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When I was fresh out of college and teaching in Singapore, I spent a whole day on MRT subways and buses all over the country — in search of a women’s basketball. I found myself trying to explain to young men and women, in both English and Mandarin, what a “women’s basketball” was… Anyway, I couldn’t find one. Eventually, I discovered that although hundreds of boys’ secondary school basketball teams participated in Singapore’s interscholastic league, only about 30 girls’ teams did. That was when I really, really realized how much Title IX had done for girls in the United States —and how lucky we are to be gaining more gender equality with every generation.

After more travels, including teaching in Honduras and backpacking through Central America, I came to Seattle and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As Jolkona’s newest Communications Intern, I’m thrilled to use my love of writing and global development to raise awareness for social change, to bring to the page what I have witnessed abroad and turn it into action.

Jolkona provides young professionals and backpackers like me on limited budgets a platform to donate and, drop by drop, make every single dollar matter — whether it’s in providing children in Mexico with fresh producesupporting safe births for women in Palestine, or creating jobs for silk weavers in India.

By joining the Jolkona team, I will no longer be just another tourist who has passed by; my experiences can continue contributing to a worthy cause. I’m excited to work with a group of like-minded volunteers who are committed to making a difference, one day, one dollar, one drop at a time.


And finally, as an advocate for women’s rights, I’m excited to be joining Jolkona during its annual Give to Girls campaign — supporting 10 nonprofit projects that help women and girls locally and globally. Join us!

Bea Chang received her MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her stories and essays have appeared in Colere: A Journal of Cultural Exploration, Toasted Cheese, and Memoir Journal. Since 2007, she has lived in and backpacked through 50 countries. 

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Since I began volunteering with Jolkona almost a year ago, I have learned a lot about the nonprofit sector, and how our team and partners are working to change the status quo of philanthropy. Jolkona has taught me that constant innovation is important not only to optimizing impact, but also to the process of democratizing philanthropy and bringing charity into the 21st century. And above all, Jolkona has shown me that anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of income, age, or experience.

maddie pic“Philanthropist” can be a loaded term, bringing to mind major institutions like the Carnegie libraries, huge university and arts endowments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s millions. This point of view can be discouraging to those of us who don’t have those kinds of resources, and therefore feel like we can’t make a meaningful difference. But with its crowdfunding platform and one-to-one impact reports, Jolkona has shown me that even $10 can change someone’s life, especially when combined with other people’s donations and directed to a trustworthy cause.

According to a recent New Yorker article, philanthropy is a key area where global income inequality is particularly stark, and one where the heaviest hitters do little to alleviate that problem. The 85 wealthiest people in the world hold as much combined wealth as poorest half of the world. Though the top philanthropists are part of this remarkably tiny elite group, they do little to address poverty alleviation.

That isn’t to say that some of biggest philanthropists don’t support causes that aid the poor. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has set the goal to eradicate extreme poverty on a global level, saying that there will be no poor counties by 2035. However, a 2008 study on the giving behaviors of the wealthiest imply that this is more of an exception to the rule.  When it comes to giving to causes that address the needs of the poor, households that make $100,000 or less spend 36% of their charitable giving on causes that effect the poor. In contrast, households that make a million or more only spend 22% on poverty alleviation. The top recipients of funding are colleges and universities, hospitals and medical centers, and general foundations.

All this tells me is that changing the face of philanthropy means working from the bottom up. Jolkona’s strategies rely just on that, by making philanthropy more accessible not only to all who are passionate about making a difference, but also to small but efficient high-impact organizations that create huge amounts of change per dollar. By making informed giving accessible to those outside the economic elite, even a recent college graduate like me can say, “I am a philanthropist.”

With a high-impact donation and collective giving, every drop truly counts.

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

As Jolkona focuses on growing our community of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs, we are thrilled welcome a new member to our leadership team: Aparna Rae, our first Development Manager.

What is your role here at Jolkona?

I’m joining the team as Development Manager. Basically, my job is to bring in funds to support Jolkona operations, through grants, major donor cultivation and events.

What was your previous work experience?

I went to college with the dream of working for National Geographic — majoring in forensic anthropology and graphic design — but somewhere between my second and third year, took a turn and headed into education. Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in K-12, after-school and community-based programs, and even taught seminars at a university.

Despite the many changes to my original “plan,” my motivation today is the same as when I started college: helping the world’s bottom billion (or two). In my previous roles locally, I focused deeply on structural issues that keep immigrant and refugee youth from succeeding in school, and designing programs to address them.

Which other nonprofits have you previously worked with, in the Seattle area or elsewhere?

Locally, I’ve worked with Neighborhood House, The Power of Hope, FEEST as a consultant, and currently PYE Global’s Young Women Empowered as a consultant.

In addition, I helped launch Project Feast and its pilot programs for immigrant and refugee cooks in May and June 2013. I currently sit on the board of The Service Board, as the Vice President/Chair.

How did you first find out about Jolkona ?

I heard about Jolkona from Siddhartha Saha, who was shooting some photos for a project a few years ago. Followed from the periphery, and then helped with elements of Corks & Forks (Jolkona’s fundraising dinner) last year.

What do you find most interesting and/or challenging about Jolkona?

What’s both interesting and challenging about Jolkona is that we need to capture funds to meet goals on our Give partner programs (through Give Direct, Give Together, Lift Bangla), as well as for our own operations. This model creates a kind of Catch-22, since Jolkona doesn’t oversee the Give projects, so those donations don’t pay for our own staff, office or website. So, I do think that a lot of my work early on will be in helping define program areas and increase fundability.

My areas of expertise are primarily in program design and evaluation, which translates really well to the needs of fund development at Jolkona. And at the same time, I want to get people excited about the promise of Jolkona and our innovative next-gen philanthropy lab model, so that they want to join us by making meaningful contributions to operations.

What are you most excited to do as part of the Jolkona team?

I love meeting new people, and in my role I’ll get to do just that.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I lived in four different countries before moving to the U.S. at 14: India (Jaipur, Delhi, Gurgaon); Kathmandu, Nepal; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai, UAE.

If you would like to hear more about her in person, Aparna will part of the Crowdfunding & Beyond panel discussion for nonprofits at tomorrow’s NDOA conference in Bellevue, WA.

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This month, as we say goodbye to many of our awesome summer interns, we’d like to recognize our star volunteer that made it all happen. Meet Dania Primley (@DPrimley), officially our Director of Human Resources, but like many of our amazing volunteers, she goes above and beyond just that.

Dania at Canlis, Rishi Sanyal Photography

Dania at Canlis (Rishi Sanyal Photography)

Dania has been volunteering with Jolkona since April 2011 and immediately came in and took ownership of our HR needs and volunteer/internship recruiting. She created templates, procedures and policies and managed to recruit an awesome team of rock star interns.

Dania’s awesome recruiting efforts led to Jolkona accomplishing many things this summer, such as developing our Facebook Welcome Page, conducing marketing PR segment research, finally setting up QuickBooks, developing a plan for our soon-to-launch brand ambassador program, developing a partner welcome packet, and so much more!

Aside from helping with our HR needs, Dania has also taken it upon herself to be our morale officer, helping to make our all-hands meetings informative, fun and social. Last, in her spare time (we’re not sure how she finds any in between all of her friends’ weddings) she volunteers on the partner management sub-committee, which is helping to follow up with our partners on reporting feedback on donations.

Volunteers like Dania are what keep Jolkona going strong and allow us to achieve our mission of engaging the next generation of philanthropists.

Here’s what Pavan Kumar Potaraju, Events Team/Microsoft Giving Campaign volunteer had to say about Dania:

When I met Dania for the first time at one of our Jolkona meetings, I was amazed at her positive energy and passion for our organization. Her contribution has been tremendous, from recruiting new volunteers (and interns) to finding great venues for our meetings and events. Dania is Ms. Dependable, who does her work with so much conviction and fun that she often inspires people around her. Working with her, simply put, is super fun!

And from Laura Kimball, Jolkona’s Director of Communications & Social Media:

Dania is a spitfire of energy. She came to Jolkona to help with the events team but didn’t mind at all when Nadia and I asked her to help build our internship program. As a start-up nonprofit, we rely heavily on the professional skills that our volunteers bring to the table, and Dania is a prime example of how a volunteer arrived with one set of skills but jumped in where we needed her expertise the most.

One of our spring interns actually complimented us on how organized we were with the orientation and on-boarding process — that statement was 100 percent due to the procedures that Dania set up and trained us to implement.

Dania is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for her HR/volunteer management expertise, but excitement about the organization and how she’s always eager to jump in and help out when needed. I’m honored to work with her.

Dania exudes energy and passion, has a contagious smile, and we are honored and lucky to have her as part of the amazing team of volunteers at Jolkona. Thank you Dania for all of your hard work and contribution to Jolkona so far!

Note from the editor: Looking to be a part of Jolkona’s team? We’re actively recruiting for fall interns and year-round volunteers. Check out our openings here.

Post written by by Jordan Belmonte

Every day I wake up inspired by the fact that I have two valuable things: choice and opportunity. Like most Americans, I decide what to eat, where to work and the shape of my future.

In December 2010, I traveled to Africa with six other Jolkona volunteers to visit our partners and see the impact of their work. As part of this trip, we visited Dago, a rural village in Kenya, where the opportunities most Americans take for granted are harder to come by.

In Kenya, approximately 1.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and 1.2 million children are orphans due to AIDS. Dago has an especially high rate of HIV/AIDS, and many of the affected families struggle to meet basic needs for water, sufficient protein and access to medical care.

When I talked to my friends and family about what I saw in Dago, they looked at me with sympathy and said, “That must have been awful to see” or “What a tragedy.” But after leaving Dago, it was not the tragedy of poverty that stuck with me — it was the perseverance of the human spirit and the community’s efforts to help young people envision a future full of opportunity.

blackboard at Dago Dala Hera orphanage

In Dago, we visited two current Jolkona projects that help young people create a brighter future. We got to cheer on the home team during the Kick it With Kenya youth soccer tournament, which also provides HIV-screening and much-needed medical care. And we saw how the Environmental Youth Action Corps is teaching young people to be environmental advocates in their communities.

One of my favorite initiatives in Kenya was the Dago Dala Hera orphanage, soon to become a Jolkona partner. At Dago Dala Hera, 36 at-risk and orphaned girls have found asylum from childhood marriages, abusive households and family deaths. The orphanage’s meal program also allows 95 local primary school children to concentrate on their education rather than on their empty stomachs. While the community’s attention to meeting basic needs for food, education and health care was impressive, Dago’s true triumph was its initiative to feed the soul and reinforce the idea that “if you can think it, you can get it.”

help orphans in Kenya

Near the end of our time in Dago, while we were visiting the orphanage, I sat on the edge of one of the cheerful bunk beds and thought of the girl who slept there every night. I hoped that the girl would rest well, excited for a new day, believing as much as I do in the phrase painted on the dormitory wall: “life is like an ocean, an endless sea of opportunities.”

dormitory in orphanage

Jordan Belmonte is a product marketing manager at Microsoft during the day and the Director of Events here at Jolkona. This story is part of a series of blog posts from the Jolkona team’s trip to East Africa in late-December 2010.

Please welcome new interns to Jolkona’s team!

Jolkona interns

If you’ve been following Jolkona on Facebook for the past few months, then you know that we’ve been recruiting hard for a new batch of interns. Well, I’m excited to introduce you to our first class of summer interns!

They come from near and far and are all ready to rock and roll here at Jolkona HQ. If you tweet or Facebook with us, then you’ll hear from a few of them starting this week. If you read this blog, well, then you’re in for a treat because there are some new voices and perspectives coming your way! Our other interns will have influence in a variety of projects we’re working on and launching over the next few months.

Please help me welcome our new class of interns to the team!

Almudena Rodriguez
Marketing Coordinator Intern

Originally from Spain, Almu is a firm believer in the need for marketing and communications for any business or nonprofit, to reach its full potential. After receiving an MBA in La Coruña, Spain with majors in business and finance, she moved to Dublin, Ireland in 2005 to continue improving her English. She lived there for five years and worked for Canada Life and Citigroup. However, her passion for marketing never stopped growing. While working full time at Citigroup, she took a degree in Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Ireland. She graduated in December 2010. In October 2010, she relocated to Seattle. In her free time she likes skiing, hiking, cycling and staying in touch with her friends spread all over the world!

Marian Yu
Office Manager Intern

Marian will be continuing her studies as a sophomore at Rice University in the fall. Though short at first glance, don’t let her size fool you! As a defensive lineman on her Powderpuff team, she’s a fun-filled ball of energy both on and off the field. She’s currently planning to double major in economics and psychology, but it’s still up in the air. She doesn’t really know what she wants to do but she has always believed in giving back to the community and she loves working with children. Having finally escaped the Houston heat and humidity for the summer, Marian is delighted to be spending her time interning with Jolkona. When not working, she likes to attempt baking, go on long walks with her dog, eat all things frozen, watch Bones, and drown her coffee with milk.

Ty Binschus
Graphic Design Intern

There are two things that Ty Binschus is passionate about. Experiencing as much as he can in the time he has, and being creative while doing it. Although he has an educational background in communications, marketing, and design, he desires a career path in Graphic Design more than anything. In his eyes there is nothing better then seeing an idea of his become something tangible. He hopes he can help Jolkona in creating some tangible print and web media in the near future.

Kelsey McLaughlin
Graphic Design Intern

Kelsey McLaughlin is currently working towards her B.A. in Design at the University of San Francisco. A traveler at heart, she aspires to one day serve in the Peace Corps and put her love of French to great use as well as her passion for making a difference in a community. In her free time in San Francisco she enjoys bike rides through Golden Gate Park and discovering new neighborhoods and coffee shops. Although San Francisco is her second home, she is always excited to return to the beautiful state of Washington with its many mountains and evergreen trees. She is extremely excited to be working with Jolkona and hopes to make an impact with her designs, inspiring people to become a part of this fantastic organization.

Allegra Abramo
Writing/Editing Intern

Allegra is a passionate traveler, cook and reader. She holds an M.P.A. and a certificate in editing from the University of Washington and has a background in social marketing for conservation programs. She is excited to be using her writing and editing skills to help build Jolkona and increase support for Jolkona’s amazing partners.

Jonathan Assink
Writing/Editing Intern

Born in California but raised in Edmonds, Washington, Jonathan is a writer, photographer, baseball nut, foodie and lover of obscure indie bands. In the years after his undergraduate studies in Political Science and Sociology, Jonathan had the opportunity to travel in Europe, Africa and Latin America. His encounters with the realities of life for billions of people living in poverty around the globe left him determined to make the world a better place and led him to return to graduate school in 2009. He just completed a MA in International Care and Community Development at Northwest University in Kirkland where he wrote a theology of justice for artists as his Master’s thesis. He loves to talk about the intersection of art, faith and social justice, and how art and story can be used to motivate people to help others. He also drinks way too much coffee.

Will Dornes
Social Media/PR Intern

My name is William Dornes, but I am better known by my friends as Diesel. I am a 22-year-old student at Washington State University, where I will graduate in December with a degree in Public Relations. I absolutely love it there–there is no place like Pullman and it is paradise to me. My passion is sports, especially basketball and the Los Angeles Lakers. I am super excited to be a part of Jolkona’s team and I have so much to learn about social media and public relations, and how they apply in the real world. I’m an easygoing guy who is looking forward to helping Jolkona achieve its goals.

Michelle Primley Benton
Social Media/PR Intern

Michelle Primley Benton is part of the PR and Social Media intern team, and is excited to help Jolkona expand its reach and engage new donors. Michelle graduated with a BA in Political Science/English Teaching from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington, where she works as a Conduct and Compliance Specialist. Michelle has a strong interest in social media and its power to connect and engage, particularly for philanthropic purposes. Michelle’s love for life-long learning spurred her previous career in Admissions, her ongoing interest in higher education and access, and on a lighter note, her avid involvement in weekly pub trivia.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of every nonprofit, and Jolkona is no exception. We’ve introduced you to a few key volunteers on our team and I’m excited to introduce another one to you today!

The single largest factor of Jolkona’s success is the team that supports this organization. Aaron Alhadeff is one of the integral members of that team, helping with many of the major projects undertaken by Jolkona. We are lucky to have such a rock star on our team!

– Adnan Mahmud, Co-Founder & Director of Research & Development

Aaron Alhadeff and Jordan Belmonte in Seattle
Jolkona volunteers, Aaron Alhadeff and Jordan Belmonte, in Seattle

Aaron Alhadeff is someone who is a living, breathing example of what it means to be a rock star volunteer. He’s been a part of the Jolkona community for a year, volunteering his time on the Communications & Social Media team, managing projects like our Annual Report, and adding valuable insights when it comes to strategizing marketing campaigns. Aaron also led the marketing outreach for the Microsoft Giving Campaign – one of Jolkona’s most successful fundraising initiates to date. He’s always ready and willing to lead a new project or lend a hand to a team who needs it.

When Aaron’s not volunteering with Jolkona, he works in search marketing for bing at Microsoft.

Aaron has worked with many teams at Jolkona so here’s what some other members of Jolkona’s leadership team have to say about his work –

From Seema Bhende, Director of Strategy:

Aaron has been an amazing addition to the Jolkona team. He brings an unparalleled commitment to strong project management, organizational skills and fun teamwork to all the projects he works on.

Aaron has superb project management skills and has helped Jolkona tremendously on an important marketing and fundraising deliverable, our Annual Report.

From Melinda Mosesler, Marketing Communications Content Manager:

There are some folks you run across in life where you can’t wait to work with them again and again – Aaron is that person. It’s the awesome positive attitude, honest outlook and always striving to find the perfect solution. Oh, did I mention he manage a project like no bodies business? Seriously, his gold standard delivery is apparent both at work and with his dedication to Jolkona. I always enjoy catching up with Aaron at our All Hands or other various meetings that continuous smile and energy is something Jolkona is lucky to have!

I am so grateful to know Aaron as a person and to work with him at Jolkona. Thank you, Aaron, you are a core part of this team and we are so thankful that you share your time to this organization!

In his words, here’s why Aaron volunteers with Jolkona:

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.

Pavan Kumar Potaraju with Jolkona in Africa

Nancy, Jordan, and Pavan in East Africa, December 2010

This month as Jolkona celebrates its one-month anniversary in our new office space, we’d like to recognize a Jolkona volunteer who was instrumental in helping to make this happen. Pavan Kumar Potaraju has been volunteering with Jolkona for the last 2 years and last year he played a key role in planning and organizing the highest-grossing fundraising event for Jolkona that raised almost $20,000 in just one evening. Go Pavan!!!!

Pavan has been a part of the events team and also played a key role in the Microsoft Giving Campaign, where he helped out with everything from hanging up posters to passing out flyers to get the word out about Jolkona. In addition, Pavan was one of 7 volunteers who gave up his winter vacation to accompany us on a volun-toursim trip through East Africa in December. During that trip, we visited some of our partners and learned how we can continue to help them through the Jolkona Giving platform. Now if that wasn’t enough, Pavan also helped Jolkona move furniture into our new office when we needed some manpower :). We just love how Pavan is willing to roll up his sleeves to help Jolkona grow and make an even bigger impact both globally and locally.

We thought this was the perfect time to recognize Pavan for being a rock star Jolkona volunteer that we can always count on because as a die-hard cricket fan, Pavan is also celebrating this month with India’s victory in the World Cup for Cricket! Check out how Pavan celebrated it:

Pavan celebrates India's win in the World Cup for Cricket

The other noteworthy quality about Pavan is that he is super fun. He always makes everyone laugh whether it’s his Bollywood poses or funny jokes, he keeps things fun which is always a good thing when volunteering.

Here’s what Melinda Moseler, Jolkona’s Marketing Communications Content Manager, said about working with Pavan:

Pavan is very passionate about getting word out about Jolkona and going the extra mile when we worked together during the Microsoft Giving Campaign. He is quiet and diligent about getting things done and goes out if his way to devote long hours to making sure some of key fundraising events on campus were attended to, long after others had gone home. I’m always glad to be paired with Pavan on project and know he can be counted on with putting Jolkona’s best foot forward. If you get a chance, check out his blog post* from the team’s Africa trip his photos are top notch and reflect some major personality!

When we asked Pavan why he volunteers with Jolkona, here’s what he had to say:

Thank you, Pavan, for all that you have done for Jolkona and the impact you’ve made in helping to change the world, one drop at a time…

*Pavan’s blog post will be posted this week!

Jolkona’s volunteers are crucial to our success. And each volunteers plays a very specific role in helping us achieve our mission of poverty alleviation through micro-giving. While we could not have come as far as we have without the dedication and passion of each one of our volunteers, this month, I’d like to recognize one specific volunteer who has done so much for Jolkona in just a short time.

Christine Oon started volunteering with Jolkona about a year ago and wanted to get involved in something that would let her utilize her skill of technical writing and content strategy. When Christine started volunteering with Jolkona, we wanted to launch a quarterly newsletter so she stepped up to the plate and volunteered to build it. Since then, Christine has helped write, design, and release 6 of the past 8 issues of our newsletters and special announcements. (Check out the newsletter archives, here). While this may not seem related to poverty alleviation, it truly is. One of Jolkona’s core tasks is to build awareness around our causes and empower people to realize the impact that can be made with small donations.

The newsletter has been instrumental in getting that message out. During the Pakistan Floods last year, Christine wrote and helped design a newsletter that announced our project helping Pakistani flood victims. This newsletter went out to our mailing list of over 2,000 donors and resulted in raising $4,000 in just 2 weeks to help flood victims. This is an example of how Christine’s work has made and continues to make a true impact.

While Christine was one of our locally based volunteers, she recently relocated back to Singapore. We are sad that she is so far away. We will definitely miss her at our team and All-Hands meetings and wish her the best of luck. Though, we are lucky that she will continue to help out and lend her content strategy and wordsmith-genius to our newsletters when she can – making our team truly international. We truly appreciate Christine’s time and dedication to Jolkona and are honored to have her as part of the Jolkona volunteer team.

On a final note, I’d like to thank Christine for generously donating a filing cabinet and computer chair for Jolkona’s new office before her move! YAY our first office furniture donated by a Jolkona volunteer!

Thank you, Christine, for all you’ve done for Jolkona and the impact you’ve made in helping to change the world, one drop at a time…

Photo by Jolkona volunteer, Pavan Potaraju, at Jolkona’s Holiday Party, December 2010.

As the CEO of Jolkona, I am proud of what the team has accomplished in 2010. It has been a great foundation building year for the organization.

I want to start by thanking our partners and donors for believing in Jolkona through our early stages and providing us with invaluable feedback. You are at the center of our work and you are our inspiration for putting in long volunteer hours after a full day at the office or school.

Famed tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” Jolkona’s journey these past three years is a testament to that adage. In 2010, Jolkona made great strides in ”doing” and proving proof to becoming a highly successful giving platform.

Jolkona’s success is directly measured by on how much impact is delivered to those lives that need the help the most. The global impact we made in 2010 has reached thousands, but some of our highlights include:

  • Providing meals to 600 children in Uganda
  • 43 prosthetics provided in Bangladesh
  • Responding to the floods in Pakistan before the news hit mainstream media in the U.S.
  • 30 farmers trained in Sudan
  • 13 women’s stories sponsored in China
  • 2,800 trees planted in Ethiopia
  • 43 children tutored in Guatemala
  • 50 classes received books in USA
  • 100 days of medical supplies provided in Bangladesh

Coming into 2010, we were a fledgling startup without any major financial backing. We had few projects on the site and a handful of early adopters. Quickly, Jolkona learned how to build a successful startup organization with little to no resources and building a dynamic volunteer team that is beyond passionate about our mission. What is the cornerstone of our mission? It’s championing transparency within Jolkona and its partner community – something we care about deeply.

By the end of the year, our team grew from two to 20+ highly-skilled volunteers. Our donor base more than doubled, donations grew by almost 300%.

Jolkona landed our first corporate sponsor, partnering with communications agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE), on the matching grant campaign called MatchED, which funded up to $5,000 (U.S.) of individual donors’ contributions to educational projects showcased on the Jolkona website.

A second campaign – Give Health made possible by a group of anonymous donors – alone raised close to $14,000 for our projects.

Measuring impact continues to be a major focus for Jolkona and in 2010, we were able to work together and completed the following: align our measurements against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Jolkona team was also able to visit some of our partner projects in Africa for the first time in 2010 and see the real difference that we are making in the lives of those on the ground and we rounded out the year with our 12 Days of Giving Campaign generating over $5,500 in funds.

2011 is off to a feverish pace – we are thrilled to have hired our first two employees to start off the year. It had become obvious Jolkona needs a full-time team in order to reach its maximum potential: co-founder Nadia Khawaja Mahmud will be taking over as the CEO and Laura Kimball will be leading our marketing and outreach efforts. Their depth of knowledge and operational execution has been critical in building Jolkona into what it is today and we look forward as they continue lead efforts and breathe passion into our organization. We secured our first ever grant from Seattle International Foundation which is vital to developing outreach in areas such as Asia and South Africa. Over $4,000 was raised at the Social Media Club of Seattle anniversary party (SMC). This was our second year celebrating SMC’s birthday, and we are very humbled to be selected as the sole beneficiary!

Saving the best for last, I can’t pass along enough praise and thanks to all of the Jolkona team for the great work they have done in 2010. I am honored to have worked with such a passionate, dedicated team. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in 2011 and beyond.

Stay tuned, as Jolkona will launch our first matching campaign for 2011, to be unveiled in mid-February and will focus on education projects.

Best wishes for the New Year and our new chapter!


Photo Credit: becca.peterson26

Jolkona volunteers on recent trip to Africa - posing like a gorilla...kind of

Jolkona volunteers on recent trip to Africa - posing like a gorilla...kind of

Jolkona is made possible by a group of dedicated volunteers who feel passionate about the giving model we’ve created. They are a young, diverse team made up of full-time professionals and university students looking to get more involved in their community and the world. They dedicate their time and their skills in making a difference in the paradigm of giving.

I’m excited to announce that we are looking to fill two openings on the leadership team:

Click the links above to download the job description for each.

Ready to join our team?

To apply, please email your resume and a cover letter that answers the following to by Wednesday, January 19th:

  1. Why are you interested in leading the campus outreach or events strategy for Jolkona?
  2. What skills or experience do you bring that will help you be successful in this position?
  3. What are you passionate about?

Please reference the title of the position you’re applying for in the subject of the email.

Dates and details about hiring process:

  • Accepting applications through Wednesday, January 19th
  • Begin interviewing candidates the week of January 24th
  • Must be available to attend the full-day orientation on Saturday, January 29th

We look forward to meeting you!

Whoa, May was an incredible month in the life of Jolkona. We were a nominated for Best Startup Nonprofit in the Seattle 2.0 Awards, our “Kids Give Back” idea was in the Pepsi Refresh Contest, and we hosted our first event, the Jolkona Meet-up.

Thank you for your votes: Seattle 2.0 Awards & Pepsi Refresh Contest

We’d like to send a big thank you out to everyone for helping us vote and get the word out for Jolkona in the Seattle 2.0 Awards. We’d like to congratulate TisBest Philanthropy who won the award.

In April we shared our experience submitting an idea for inclusion in the Pepsi Refresh Contest, and in May our Kids Give Back idea was open for voting. Thank you, again, to everyone who voted for this idea—especially those who voted every day. We finished the month in 341st place.

Jolkona Meet-up: Our First Event

Question: What’s one thing you hope for when hosting an event (especially your first event)? Answer: A packed house.

Adnan sharing the impact Jolkona has made since launching in June 2009.

And that’s exactly what we had the great fortune of accomplishing—a sold-out out event! We were scheduled to host this happy hour event in the private dining room inside Seattle Art Museum’s restaurant, SAM Taste. But after watching the available tickets disappear in the days leading up to the event and counting heads for our staff and partners, we decided an hour before the event that room would have too much elbow-rubbing and not enough comfort. Luckily the great staff at SAM Taste let us move the party to the “patio” which overlooked the foyer of the museum, and provided more space and an incredible backdrop!

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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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