During Jolkona’s Project Catalyst Showcase on Thursday, June 19, our five Indonesian social entrepreneurs gave their five-minute business pitches to a public audience of supporters and investors. Funded by the U.S. State Department, Project Catalyst had selected them out of 200 applicants. And after two weeks of intense training in Seattle–which included workshops, field trips, mentoring, coaching, and coffee chats–the participants presented their social enterprise projects to sixty people at the University of Washington.

“I was so excited to do the pitch, especially doing it in a foreign language with an international sphere,” Mirah Mahaswari, one of the participants who was giving her pitch for the first time, said.

While Nadya Saib has pitched before, she said this time was different: “This past Thursday is slightly different though, because I didn’t know anyone from the audience in person. The last time I pitched, I was accompanied with my team.”

The social entrepreneurs spent much of the week leading up to the presentation preparing it. They received feedback from mentors and coaches, and they practiced on each other for hours. Nadine Zamira said, “I was most excited to see the other’s pitch decks. We have been practicing with each other and was really looking forward to seeing the final product. I think everyone did amazing! So proud!”

Nadya added, “I was nervous about being the first in giving the presentation. But that actually excites me too. And I was also excited to talk in front of some coaches whom had given me loads of insights. I wanted them to know that their feedback had been useful for me.”

Nadine also said of the audience, “I loved seeing all the wonderful people who have been generous with us through out the program in one room.”

At the end of the presentations, the members of the audience voted for the recipient of a $500 grant. As the audience could buy more votes–at $5 per vote–the pool was increased to $700 by the end of the night. Mirah, whose Pack Your Spirit program promotes literacy and instills passion for reading in Indonesia, won the grant.

She said, “I am soooooo glad that my project got the grant! I can’t believe it, since the others were amazing during their pitch!”

The award was presented to her during a catered Indonesian dinner.

The audience was also asked to write notes on the back of their votes, and for many of the participants, that was valuable. Nadine said, “I really liked hearing the audience’s feedback – praise, encouragement, constructive input and new networking opportunities. The input box was a really nice touch. It’s always great to know when people understand or can relate to your message.” 

While the first program of Project Catalyst came to a close and the participants have all gone home to Indonesia, it is only the beginning for their projects. Nadya said her biggest take away was, “What Adnan told us–that it’s actually just the beginning that may spark more connections with the audience. Our next job is to follow up.”

Project Catalyst is an accelerator for international social ventures. This 2-week intensive workshop brings social entrepreneurs from developing countries to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors and funders.

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Our first five participants in Project Catalyst, Jolkona’s new accelerator for social entrepreneurs from developing countries, will come from Indonesia to Seattle in the next couple weeks. This 2-week intensive workshop will allow them to further hone their business plans, meet prospective investors and gain new insights. We can’t wait to welcome them to our offices on June 8!

Both of Dino’s projects, Claps and Vertesac, work toward raising awareness of climate change and natural disasters, and encouraging people to modify their behaviors to improve our shared environment. A mobile photo sharing app for pictures and videos of the “real” impact of climate change, Claps aims to document and educate civilians about natural disasters. Meanwhile, Vertesac is a smart shopping bag system designed to track consumer use of reusable bags and offer discounts to users. Vertesac aims to reduce the excessive use of plastic bags through these economic incentives.

Q: Outside of this project and work, what else do you do for fun in Indonesia? What other passions do you have?

I also write a series of books called Books of Light. I call the  genre of the book “Science Mythology” or “SciMyth.” Simply said, science mythology is a story based on scientific fact about some event or natural phenomenon. Imagine Terminator meets The Lord of the Rings. I also create game boards, and take pictures as photographer. My passions are technology, environment, and art. I like to think about the problems that we have in our society and the opportunities that our technology offer.

Dino Fitriza (3)Q: So, what inspired you to start this venture?

The idea of Vertesac started in October 2011. In my city, Bandung, Indonesia, like other big cities, there are big problems with excessive plastic bag usage. Campaigns that encourage people to stop using plastic bag or to pay for plastics or to use your own bag have risen  all over the world. But, I found out that, when consumers buy some products, they think about their own “economy” first, and “ecology” second. Customers will look for direct benefits or incentives such as a cheaper price, discount, bonus, etc. So, I thought why don’t we create a system where each time users bring reusable shopping bag, they will get direct economic incentives? And so, Vertesac was born.

Q: Tell us a story of a person who has benefited from your program.

I can divide the people who have benefitted from this program into three categories. The first one, of course, are people all around the world who will keep a healthy environment with the reduction of plastic bags in circulation. The second are the customers who get better prices and discounts and the stores also reduce the cost of plastic or paper bags. Lastly, are the people who produce our reusable bags. Through the project, we have also created jobs. Our bags are made in Cimareme Village in Bandung by local women.

Q: What is one obstacle you have faced in running the program? How did you overcome it?

Our main obstacle is that we’re short on cash. Sometimes we run out “Fuel of Cash” so we can’t produce more bags to expand our market and get more store connections at the levels we want. Some stores also want us to pay them to accept Vertesac program. We try to overcome this by bootstrapping, getting investment from family and friends and by winning some competitions for cash.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you come to the United States as a part of Project Catalyst?

We are looking for strategic partners that can help us with fundraising, so we can expand our impact on the market. We are also looking for mentors or investors that can bring Vertesac to the next level as a world class social venture.

We are very excited to have Dino Fitriza here in Seattle! If you are interested in helping these amazing entrepreneurs, Project Catalyst is recruiting for mentors, coaches and hosts! If you are available between June 8 and 22, please contact

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Our first five participants in Project Catalyst, Jolkona’s new accelerator for social entrepreneurs from developing countries, will come from Indonesia to Seattle. This 2-week intensive workshop will further hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors. We can’t wait to welcome them to our offices on June 8!

Over the next three weeks, we will profile each entrepreneur. Our first feature is Nadya Saib, 27, whose project, Wangsa Jelita, produces non-toxic, natural personal care products to address environmental issues of waste while empowering local farmers and artisans. Read below to see what Nadya has to say about her nephews, about entrepreneurship, about rose farmers, and more.

Q: Outside of this project and work, what else do you do for fun in Indonesia? What other passions do you have?

I think everyone has their own definition of fun. For me, playing with and poking fun at my nephews is so much fun. I consider my family as one of the most significant elements in my life, so spending quality time with them, whenever possible, is one of the best ways to spend my time outside of work. Once in a while, I speak about entrepreneurship to youth, students, and other fellow entrepreneurs. I find sharing as a good reminder for me. I’m also part of the Global Shapers Jakarta Hub, an initiative under the World Economic Forum. Being part of this group gives me the chance to meet like-minded people, which triggers an inspirational jolt in me. For me, that is fun too.

Wangsa Jelita slide campaignQ: So, what inspired you to start this venture?

The fact that there is no pharmaceutical regulation of the word “natural” encouraged my two friends and me to create something that would embody the true concept of “natural.” That was the initial idea. So right after we got our bachelor degrees back in 2008, the three of us, pharmacists by training, started “Wangsa Jelita”–which means “Beautiful Dynasty.” We carefully chose only “good” ingredients to put in our formulation of personal care products and picked out the best processes to make them. It was a kind of hobby at first, something we enjoyed doing, something we were excited about. About a year after that, we met local farmers by chance, and we were inspired to expand Wangsa Jelita. The spirit of introducing and producing truly natural personal care products remains the same, but the way we conduct our business has evolved–from a traditional profit maximizing business to a social enterprise that empowers local communities.

Q: Tell us a story of a person who has benefited from your program.

I suppose I should tell you about the moment when my team told rose farmers about the idea of utilizing the roses to produce soaps. Some laughed, some asked whether we can make soap out of other kinds of flowers and/or veggies, some didn’t see the value in doing so. But the best thing was that most of them wanted to know more about our idea and wanted to take part. We held a year-long program to teach women farmers to add value to their roses by producing rose water extract and rose soaps. In an interview, a rose farmer said that she’s proud of herself for having new skill as well augmenting her family income.

Q: What is one obstacle you have faced in running the program? How did you overcome it?

I’ve learned to contend with my assumptions; may it be about how the business should be run, or how to maintain the relationships with the communities and customers, or even what kind of products should be developed. I think every leader has their own assumption and sometimes, they have the tendency to be very firm about it, and I’ve learned that this tendency has the potential to harm the company. The first step of how I overcame it was by acknowledging it. Our job is finding the best path should be taken so that the company can meet its goals, to serve more people. So the next step I took was teaching myself and my team to listen to our stakeholders more, and to listen carefully. And I found that this way has made a big difference to me and my team, particularly in our way to run the business.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you come to the United States as a part of Project Catalyst?

Foremost, meeting the mentors is what I’m very much looking forward to. It always excites me to meet people who have been there and done that. I really wish I can learn as much as possible from Project Catalyst, and hopefully, in one way or another, I, too, can benefit everyone I encounter in the program.

We are very excited to have Nadya Saib here in Seattle! If you are interested in helping these amazing entrepreneurs, Project Catalyst is recruiting for mentors, coaches and hosts! If you are available between June 8 and 22, please contact

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My friends and I fell in love with Myanmar (Burma) before Hilary Clinton ever set foot in there. In the May of 2010, no one I knew had ever been. Back then, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, and the military regime limited travelers’ access to certain parts of the country. Right on the heels of North Korea, it was the second most isolated country in the world.

Since the junta overthrew a democratic government in 1969, to the outside world, Myanmar became synonymous with systematic human rights violations, forced relocations, drug trafficking, and poverty. But what my friends and I found there were beautiful Buddhist temples and golden pagodas, as well as the most generous, most kind-hearted nation of people. Everywhere we went, the Burmese smiled at us, waved to us, shouted mingalaba! On a full day of trekking through the hills of Kalaw, two remote villages welcomed us into their wedding festivities, fed us steeped tea and lavish meals. On our way home, we stumbled upon a Nepalese ceremony, and the people offered us even more food, more drinks, more candies. Their children accompanied us halfway back to Kalaw, singing and dancing as they skipped beside us, chatting in Burmese, laughing.


Team Stupa. May 2010.

Like most Burmese children, I later learned, most of these singing and laughing children had never touched a picture book. The educational system in Myanmar had been practically non-existent; the illiteracy rate among those over 15 and older stood at 2.5 million people in 2011. According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 33% of school-aged children in Myanmar do not attend school and 70% of those who do are unable to finish at the primary level. Much of this is due to the lack of funds in barely maintained educational institutions, as well as the general poverty in the country that forces children out of schools at a young age in order to earn wages for their families.

In recent years, the junta has started handing over its power to a democratic system in non-bloody, non-violent reform, and willingly opened its doors to the outside world. As Burma embarks on such a historic transformation, the education of its children becomes more important than ever. Educational Empowerment provides Burmese children access to an educational environment in Myanmar that improves their future economic opportunities. Not only does EE provide books for children and develop community and monastic school libraries, it also aims to provide teachers with trainings and materials.

I would gladly support any organization working to build a democratic future for the brave, kind-hearted people of Myanmar. Through Give Direct to EE, we can play a part in ensuring children education and economic success at a critical time in the building of a free Myanmar! Give today! Every dollar matters!

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Crowdfunding, the process of raising money from a collective group of people, has become an exciting source of capital for artists, game developers, entrepreneurs, and others. Among nonprofits, Jolkona has used crowdfunding for the past five years to engage new donors and revitalize the way we think about giving through the ongoing development of innovative programs such as our monthly Give Together community.

This model was the subject of a recent installment of Movie Mondays for Fundraising Professionals, featuring Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud, along with our officemates Brad Fenstermacher of LiveStories, and Steve Schwartz of Upaya Social Ventures.

Watch Nadia, Brad, and Steve talk about crowdfunding here.

To hear more about crowdfunding for nonprofits from Jolkona, LiveStories, and Upaya, check out our joint panel discussion at the 2014 NDOA Winter Conference later this month.

Some of the key points the panel will cover:

  • Inspiration: Crafting a compelling story will help create an experience that ensures donors continue thinking about you long after they’ve left your website.
  • Cultivation: Gaining traction requires creativity, focus, and a willingness to go to your audiences, rather than waiting for them to come to you.
  • Retention: Create a loop that keeps donors coming back for more info, more inspiration, more experiences, more opportunities.

The NDOA conference is a great opportunity to learn about fundraising through workshops and panels from a range of experts. The conference is Jan. 28 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA. If you register before Friday, admission is $150 for NDOA members, $195 for non-members. Hope to see you there!

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Whenever a Miss America contestant is asked a question about how she would change the world if she wins the crown, her answer will sound something like, “I will try to attain world peace, end poverty, improve health worldwide, and teach little children how to read.”  As overly ambitious and cliché this answer is, the world has made strides in the area of global health with the help of vaccines.

Needle by Dr. Shepard

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are twenty eight Vaccine-Preventable Diseases that have vaccines fighting against them including:  Hepatitis A and B, Measles, Lyme Disease, and the H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and many more. These vaccines have prevented the spread of disease, and improved the quality of life of all who have been vaccinated. However, vaccinations aren’t always readily available, and when supply is short, the consequences could be disastrous.

It was reported just earlier this month that a measles epidemic hit Pakistan, and this epidemic has already claimed 500 children’s lives (the full article can be read here). Measles is preventable with a vaccine, but not all have access to said vaccine. Dr. Zahid, Medical Superintendent of Mayo Hospital (one of the many hospitals seeing many of the patients with measles) said, “About 80 percent of patients were not vaccinated.”  The power of vaccinations is incredible, and their importance shouldn’t be underestimated. More vaccines could have saved 500 children.

This past month at Jolkona was education month, and we are grateful for the generosity of our readers.  I would like to officially announce that Jolkona will focus on the topic of global health for the month of August. Global health is an issue that many in our office feel passionate about, so dedicating three projects to improving global health was a no-brainer. Please stay tuned for more information coming soon.

By partnering with Jolkona, you get to choose how you impact the world. Join our Give Together program today!

You can keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Gabriel St. John

It’s been a while since the last Featured Volunteer Post, but that doesn’t mean that our volunteers aren’t superstars! I would introduce you to Gabriel St. John, but if you’re reading this blog, you know him already. Gabriel is our Online Content Manager, in charge of keeping the Jolkona blog fresh, informative and engaging. He first got involved with Jolkona as the Editing and Writing Intern in the fall of 2011, working with Laura Kimball on the blog. Since then, he became the lead on the blog team, establishing his personable and understandable style in a series of increasingly successful posts.

I met Gabriel by working with him as the 2012 summer Editing and Writing Intern. In addition to being a quick-witted, likeable individual, he effortlessly orchestrated our blog schedule for the entire summer, and taught me so much about effective communication. Gabriel has a great passion for creative writing, and uses these skills to tell the more personal stories from Jolkona. Yes, we can see the projects, the statistics, the need. But without Gabriel’s work on bringing the stories behind many of our issues to light, it isn’t necessarily easy to see why we do it.

My experiences with Gabriel are echoed by the rest of Jolkona:

Gabriel is such a critical part of the Jolkona team. He’s an amazing writer and helps tell the Jolkona story and that of all the partners we work with through our blog. He has done an amazing job curating, editing, and writing content for our blog ever since he’s led the team. What I especially like about Gabriel is how he makes the social issues we talk about personal, bringing in stories from his own childhood or experiences to make it real. I really love reading our blog posts and learning more about the issues I didn’t know as much about or simply getting even more inspired to do something about them. Thanks Gabriel for bringing your dedication, passion, and fantastic writing skills to the Jolkona team! -Nadia Khawaja

Working with Gabriel is always incredible; he has a unique ability for developing (and editing) compelling stories that resonate with Jolkona donors and readers and he is also aware of how to work within the limited resources of a nonprofit. Gabriel is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for his online content management skills but excitement about the organization and how he’s always willing to jump in and help out whenever needed. He brings a plethora of information and writing experience to his volunteer work at Jolkona and we are lucky to have him as part of our team. –Daljit Singh

Storytelling is critical to Jolkona. Whether it is telling the impact of our partners or the work of our volunteers, Gabriel has helped us to tell our stories and connect with our communities. He and I don’t agree on football, but, I respect all that he has done to support Jolkona over the past year! The way he really took ownership over the blog and works with interns really embodies the sort of volunteers Jolkona and any non-profit strives to have on their team. –Adnan Mahmud

Gabriel At S4SC

Gabriel’s ability to seamlessly spin together the tales of Jolkona, the stories that make our work real, is invaluable. The fact that he can find time for us in addition to working his day job shows his dedication and resourcefulness. Jolkona is incredibly fortunate to have each and every one of our volunteers, and Gabriel is a stellar member of that group. Thank you, Gabriel, for being a fantastic volunteer, and for sharing Jolkona’s story around the world.

Follow Gabriel on Twitter! Has his volunteering story inspired you? Do you want to join us in changing the world? Find out more information by emailing us a We’ve got a Twitter too! You can find us on Facebook and Pinterest as well.

Note from the Editor: This post was written by Jolkona volunteer Chi Do.

In Bangkok, on a very hot and humid June day, the Jolkona team got the opportunity to visit a vocational school run by Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB). Greeting us were many students dressed in white shirts and dark pants. They were there to attend 2-hour classes held every Sunday, studying subjects such as English, Thai, or computer skills. They all seemed to take these weekend classes very seriously. For many of them, this is the only education they are able to find. The majority of them have not graduated from high school and currently hold full time entry-level jobs at factories or in sales. Students can attend more than one class depends upon their financial resources.

TACDB was founded in February of 2003. Its mission aims to support the Burmese refugees and immigrants who come to Thailand from the poorest and most war-ridden areas of Burma.

Today, besides providing education and vocational training for these Burmese young adults, this non-profit organization also supports Burmese immigrants with legal assistance in labor unions. They strive to break down the language barriers for these workers, improve their awareness of their legal rights, and organize democracy campaigns to signify their presence in the Thai community.

We asked Myint Wai, the Director of TACDB, what they currently need the most. He responded without hesitation – financial support. It is easy to see that the school is running way over capacity. Thailand’s law dictates that there should be no more than 500 students in this size of facility, yet they are enrolling close to 850 students on a regular basis. There are 45-60 students in each class. And there are only 10 computers that are functioning and being used for teaching. All of the teachers volunteer their time. They receive nothing besides a minimal travel stipend to get to and from the school.

To further understand the impacts this school provides, we interviewed a couple students.

Ngelay-Bright has been attending English class for the past 5 years. She works full time as a sales clerk. She emphasized to us that she is saving money to continue learning at the school, because she believes advancing her language skills (both English and Thai) and computer skills will significantly improve her earnings. She wishes to one day finish high school and attend university.

Aung Naing is a fairly new student at the school. He has only been learning English for about 5 months, but he had no problem communicating with us. He said that he is thankful to have found out about the school and started studying there. It is impressive how much education, commitment, and determination can work to make a difference in the lives of these young people.

Investing in education is undoubtedly the best way to improve the lives of the Burmese refugees and immigrants in Thailand. Personally, it touched me a great deal to be able to relate their story to my own, when my family first migrated to the United States. Without the educational opportunity available to me, I wouldn’t have been able to finish college, obtain a good job, adapt and establish my life in a foreign land. I am passionate to campaign for the support the “TACDB” school needs most. Let me break it down:

  • With 350 Thai bahts (11 US dollars), we can send one student to one class for 3 months.
  • With 250 Thai bahts (8 US dollars), we can support the travel expenses for one volunteer teacher a week.
  • With 10 donations of 1000 Thai bahts (32 US dollars), we can pay the facility fees for 1 month.

In any amount possible, I hope you consider supporting the TACDB, or at least learn more about their work.

We will keep updating you on the SE Asia Trip during Global Health Month! Keep following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

On Monday, October 10th we announced the Good Deeds campaign with a simple goal: incentivize our community to donate to any project on Jolkona and our partner, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, will match every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000 on Monday, October 24th, whichever comes first.

I am pleased to announce that over the weekend we met that goal and our Good Deeds campaign is fully funded! We have had a few matching campaigns over the past year, Waggener Edstrom Good Deeds Campaign on Jolkonaand this campaign has resulted in supporting the most diverse number of projects than any matched giving campaign before.

  • 41 different projects were supported
  • 15 different countries
  • $5,000 donated by Jolkona donors
  • + $5,000 matched by Waggener Edstrom
  • = $10,000 raised in 2 weeks

The impact of $10,000 worth of ‘good deeds’

  • 2 women received life skills class in USA
  • 2 months of primary education provided in Uganda
  • 4 stoves provided in Nepal
  • 400 trees planted in India
  • 6 students attended a night class in the tsunami-affect area of Japan
  • 2 girls saved from honor killing in Iraq
  • 8 orphans received clothes in Iraq
  • 6 women received farming training in Sudan
  • 2 girls received 1 year of education in Afghanistan
  • 2 businesses showcase opportunity provided in USA
  • 2 mothers and newborn received nutritional support in India
  • 2 months of primary education provided in Uganda
  • 2 women received access to clothes in USA
  • 6 weeks of food provided in Iraq
  • 100 trees planted in Ethiopia
  • 6 acres of rainforest conserved in Tanzania
  • 2 young women trained in Nepal
  • 2 stories sponsored in United States
  • 12 months of secondary education provided in Uganda
  • 2 months of support provided to a student in Rwanda
  • 4 jobs created in India
  • 2 women received training in bio-intensive farming in Kenya
  • 2 students received support for research project in USA
  • 12 months of computer training provided in Guatemala
  • 2 children sponsored in Bangladesh
  • 2 orphans received education in Kenya
  • 8 children saved from diarrhea in India
  • 6 school girls received uniforms in Liberia
  • 2 headsets provided to a classroom in USA
  • 2 rural Tibetan girls attended day school in China
  • 2 months of HIV treatment provided in Kenya
  • 2 Above & Beyond awards given to homeless person in USA
  • 160 children received 1 week of meal each in Uganda
  • 2 hygiene kits provided in Haiti
  • 2 homes fumigated in Bolivia
  • 2 family toilets provided in Nepal
  • 2 classes received notebooks in United States
  • 2 soccer camps participant supported in United States
  • 4 women trained in bio-intensive farming in Kenya
  • 2 women trained in Pakistan
  • 4 Jolkona projects added

And these projects impacted the following countries:

Jolkona Good Deeds Impact Map

View the total impact and donors by visiting the Good Deeds campaign page.

Thank you to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

@WE_Citizen spot donation #WEGoodDeeds

For those who donated, you will receive proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation Waggener Edstrom matched on your behalf. Matched gifts will be added to your account later this year and you will receive both proofs of impact once each project is implemented.

Thank you…

To our donors – Thank you for contributing to the campaign and showing that individuals can make a huge difference! All of your ‘good deeds’ have added up to create a big impact. Thank you!

To our sponsor – Thank you, Waggener Edstrom and the WE Citizenship team for their partnership, leadership, and support during this campaign. It’s a pleasure to work with a corporate partner who is so involved in the execution of the campaign, especially how they made additional spot-donations in the name of donors who tweeted about the campaign.

This is the second matched campaign we launched with Waggener Edstrom. Last year we partnered with them on the MatchED campaign, which matched donations to education projects.

And one final thank you to our team – Thank you for helping us get this campaign to 100% by sharing and promoting Good Deeds to your friends, family, and networks. You are a vital part of what makes Jolkona the organization that it is today. Thank you.

Don’t let your ‘good deed’ stop here

The philosophy that all giving matters is the spirit of our mission and the work we do every day. We recognize that you don’t have to be wealthy or have an unlimited amount of time to volunteer to make an impact; even small doses of passion turned to action make a difference and Waggener Edstrom believes in this as well.

While the matching fund has run out, you can inspire global change by continuing to support over 100 projects on Jolkona. Your impact can reach new heights.

The impact is YOU.

It has been 1 year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. It is a good time for us to take a look at the conditions that have changed since then. The purpose of this post is to present some statistics that highlight the challenges that still exist in Haiti.

  • The earthquake struck at 4:53 PM on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010. By January 24th, there were over 50 aftershocks in Haiti.
  • The immediate effect of the earthquake included 230,000 dead, over 300,000 injured, more than 1 million people homeless, and close to 300,000 buildings destroyed including 250,000 homes, 30,000 commercial buildings, and presidential palace and many ministry buildings.
  • On the 22nd of January, the United Nations noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation was drawing to a close, and on the following day, the Haitian government officially called off the search for survivors.
  • 1.3 million people are still displaced today.
  • According to the Guardian: “Although the international community promised almost $10bn in aid earlier in 2010, very little has actually arrived. What is more, support appears to be dwindling. In 2010, more than 35 countries and multilateral agencies pledged roughly $3.8bn to reconstruction. Going into 2011, pledges have diminished to 20 countries amounting to $1.5bn.”
  • While the whole world watched over Haiti and with thousands of aid organizations present in the country, over 3,500 people have died since October from a Cholera outbreak.
  • Only 5% of the rubbles have been cleared thus far. At this rate it will take 20 years to clear up all the rubbles from the earthquake.
  • There has been a high number rapes reported at the various campsites.
  • Amidst all this, the country has also been crippled by serious political instability without anyone showing great leadership and vision.

Petionville Golf Club in Port-au-Prince was the only golf course in Haiti. This before and after photo from Oxfam shows how the golf course (in the left) has turned into a tent city now (right):

For everyday people, there has been no change. At Jolkona, we are committed to working with some of the most effective organizations on the ground to get help to those who need it the most. We provide 5 diverse projects – from planting trees to helping rape victims to permanently bringing a family out of poverty – that allows you to have an impact that you wish to make. Check out our projects in Haiti.

We ask you to pledge a gift to Haiti and we will report back to you about the impact of your donation.

Photo Credit: Oxfam International

If you are involved in the social sector, you are very familiar about the importance of measuring impact. Both donors and investors want to know that their money is being put into good use and consequently organizations want to show impact so that they can continue to receive funding for their projects.

Over the years the impact reporting has evolved starting from very passive forms of feedback to more proactive forms and it is worth taking a brief look at how impact reporting has evolved. The Revenue Act of 1918 for the first time established tax exemption for charitable bequests where donors would receive feedback related to acknowledgment of donations and tax exemption. Then the Internal Revenue Act of 1943 established the requirements for 501c3 organizations to annually submit their I-990s so nonprofits are now required to report back financial information of their work. In the 1950s, we saw organizations like World Vision starting to send photos of a child sponsored by the donor. It is important to note that is still a very popular program today, despite drawing strong criticisms. In the late 1990s and early 2000s we started seeing a new breed of organizations who used the power of the digital media to tell donors about the impact on the field. I would put organizations like Kiva, DonorsChoose, Global Giving, etc. in that group. When we look at organizations today and look at their annual reports, 100% of them talk about their impact and 99% of them are of the flavor “X girls educated” or “$Y million in loans given” or “Z meals provided”.

But, is that “true impact”? A popular phrase in our sector is, “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day.  Teach a man how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime”. At Jolkona, we try to use that in partner selection process, during our talks, and on our website – I am sure someone sells that as a bumper sticker as well. Of course this phrase should not be taken literally. However, it does provide a good discussion point for this post. If an organization says that they taught “100 people to fish” is that good? It really depends. If every one of those 100 people were able to fish, sell their fish, and earn income for the family then, that’s great. What if only 10 out of those 100 people were able to earn income for the family (even though all 100 learned to fish)? Then, would we still consider this impact in the same regard?

Here is another example of impact reporting not being accurate. Often times organizations will talk about their impact as “X number of people impacted” where X is the person receiving the direct donation + their entire family and the rest of the people in the village. In the need to impress the funders with big numbers, organizations often try to maximize their impact footprint. Again, we have to ask is that “true impact”?

Ideally, we would want to figure out a systemic way of tracking detailed impact. We should not settle for just having a count of how many children we educated, but we should strive to measure impact by tracking if the lives of those children and their immediate family have improved over the years because of that child’s education. We should not track how many fishermen we trained, but how has the life of each fisherman and their immediate family improved because of their training. Is this easy? Absolutely not. I do however, believe that we should make sure we spend time trying to figure out how to best measure impact so that are constantly improving the quality of the metrics and getting closer and closer to “true impact”.

Here is an annual report from a nonprofit organization in 1925:

It has almost been a century, but how much have we really evolved from this report? We have progressed so much since 1925 and yet, how we measure the impact we have on society and those in need hasn’t really changed that much, except for larger numbers. 🙂

There are more than 30 billion (probably way more) webpages out there which is 5 times the world population. Few billion pages get added every day. We know EVERY detail about EVERY webpage – how it has evolved over time, which pages link to it, how many people access it, what language it is in, who is the author, etc. Yet, we can’t track nutrition levels, education levels, income, etc. for individuals. We have the tools, we just need get more focused on how we use the tools to measure “true impact”.

We can do it and I am sure we will soon!

1925 report from Camp Kern/Camp Ozone Historical Materials

When we announced the MatchED Campaign, we had a big goal ahead of us – raise $5,000 in donations for education projects that will be matched, dollar for dollar, by Waggener Edstrom, doubling the overall impact and funds to $10,000. MatchED was designed to last one month and we are excited to announce that on Monday, Sept. 19th, MatchED was fully funded!

Together, in just one week, here’s the impact we made towards education around the world:

  • Books supplied to 10 classes in Rwanda
  • 12 girls educated in Afghanistan
  • 2 student in Kenya received school supplies
  • 2 Tibetan Student attended summer program
  • 80 books supplied in Tibet
  • 4 year-long scholarships given in Zambia
  • 22 months of tutoring provided in Guatemala
  • 4 students in USA got tech tools
  • 4 chairs provided to students in Sierra Leone
  • 12 Tibetan students educated
  • 28 year-long scholarships given in Guatemala
  • 2 events sponsored at a US school
  • 16 desks provided to a Zambian school

We are thankful to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

For those who donated, you will receive proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation Waggener Edstrom matched on your behalf. Matched gifts will be added to your account in mid-October and you will receive proofs of impact once the projects are implemented.

We are also thankful to Waggener Edstrom for their partnership, leadership, and support of this campaign. We look forward to partnering with them as well as other businesses in the future with campaigns that help further engage the corporate and social sectors.

Investing in education doesn’t stop here.

You can continue to see the support of education projects on the campaign page and by viewing the overall impact we’re making towards the U.N. Millennium Development Goals and other projects around the world.

On our blog, we’ll be sharing stories about the importance of supporting education projects around the world. We have some great guests posts lined up and we’re excited to share them with you!

Did you know that there are 115 million children around the world without primary education? And that 61.5 million of them are female?

In less developed countries, this translates to 1 out of every 3 children not attending school. Lower literacy rates are linked to higher poverty, HIV/AIDS, health issues, and great gender inequality, and more.

We’re excited to announce that Jolkona is partnering with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide on our first corporate-sponsored giving campaign called MatchED. From September 13th to October 13th, any donation you make through Jolkona towards one of our 17 education projects will be matched, dollar-for-dollar by Waggener Edstrom, up to $5,000.

For each donation you make, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation. So make an investment in education today and double your impact!

You can support the MatchED campaign, follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@Jolkona, #WEMatchED).

We’d like to thank Waggener Edstrom for their generosity and their leadership. Together, we can make a real global impact by investing in education this month!

Thanks to the generous support of the Jolkona community, we have raised almost $4,000 for our partner, Barakat, to help families displaced by the floods in Pakistan! As a result of your donations, the 70-75 households that took shelter in Attock, Punjab have all been taken care of. We’re excited to announce that this project is now completely sold out!

In our last blog post about Pakistan, we discussed how much of the $1.3 billion raised for Haiti’s earthquake relief still remains unused. Jolkona and our partner have learned from this experience and have decided to cap the Pakistan project at this point since our non-profit partner does not have the capacity to distribute additional funds for flood relief outside of the village they work in. You can rest assured that YOUR donations to this project are being used for aid and distributed to the families affected by the floods. Everyone who has made a donation will receive a proof of impact as soon as the gifts are implemented.

Thanks to your help, we were able to meet the immediate needs of the affected families who took refuge in Attock. We are working hard with our partner to add another project which will provide long-term benefits for these families.

Unfortunately, the need in Pakistan is still great. The UN reports that the flooding in the Sindh province of Pakistan is going from “bad to worse.” Whether you’ve given to our project or not, we encourage you to give what you can to other relief organizations working in Pakistan. See the short list of organizations we recommend below:

Read More

When the earthquake struck Haiti back in January, the world opened its wallets and generously supported the Haitians with over 1 billion dollars in donations. According to this recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, much of the  $1.3 billion remains unused. The article sites the specific example of American Red Cross who has only spent $133 million dollars out of the close to $500 million donations that it received. This is extremely frustrating to donors. The organizations asked for money under the banner of “immediate need of assistance” and yet 6 months after the earthquake so much of the funds are still unused. This lack of transparency will lead to donor frustration – we are already starting to see that play out.

At Jolkona, we try to address this donor frustration by providing tangible, meaningful proof of impact for every donation. In the days after the earthquake, we did not have any projects on the ground for people to give. However, by now we have projects in Haiti that assist in the long term recovery efforts. Here are our Haiti projects right now:

This provided a lot valuable lessons for us in terms of how to manage disaster relief and recovery in a way that effectively fits the Jolkona model. Now Pakistan is facing one of the worst floods in the country’s history – billions of dollars of damage and over 12 million people affected thus far. In Pakistan, we have been able to respond and set up a project within days since we had partners who were already on the ground.

This proves Jolkona’s ability to quickly respond to relatively fluid situations (especially around disasters) and help in the recovery process. As Jolkona grows, so will its ability to respond to future disasters around the world.

However, for now our focus is on the floods in Pakistan. Please give to help the displaced families in the floods in Pakistan. As feedback, you will receive information on how your donation was used by a specific family. You can continue to give through the traditional methods and they need all the help they can get. Through Jolkona, you have the opportunity to directly and immediately impact 600 displaced people and know exactly how you impacted them.

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