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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 catalyst@jolkona.org.

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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!

Our fourth feature is Mirah Mahaswari, whose Pack Your Spirit program promotes literacy and instills passion for reading in Indonesia. Pack Your Spirit collects children’s used-books, hosts community events, and coordinates their transportation to remote schools in the villages of east Borneo.

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

I love traveling! I usually spend my leisure time traveling around Indonesia. Last time, my husband and I stayed for almost three days in a beautiful island called Derawan in East Kalimantan. We snorkeled and enjoyed the underwater view so much!

Q: So, what inspired you to start this venture?

Balikpapan Menyala was already established by the time I moved here. As volunteers, we try to create social activities to solve problems in our community. Here, we face an illiteracy issue and low passion in reading. Because of those, we inspired to organize an event to pack and share books in Balikpapan.

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

Asking the public for book donation was quite hard. It wasn’t to promote the cause by social media and posters. We overcame this by doing roadshow to schools and coordinated with the student council and headmasters. Then, we promoted a “one man, one book” donation program to every school. Within a month, around 4,000 books were collected from 11 primary schools, 7 junior high, and 5 senior high schools.

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

It such a tremendous benefit for me to get connected to a global network in the U.S. I’m looking forward to learning about funding and program sustainability from the mentors and social enterprise practitioners in Seattle. I hope to take the project into a bigger scale and impact 🙂

We are very excited to have Mirah Mahaswari 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 catalyst@jolkona.org.

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Imagine a city that is carbon neutral, has zero emissions, uses sustainable energy sources and  builds a comprehensive public transportation. This is the “city of the future,” according to the Earth Day Network’s Green Cities Campaign – and a future not too far away, especially here in Seattle.

Seattle is consistently ranked among the top Green Cities in the U.S. due to our ordinances to reduce the impacts of climate change and use of sustainable energy. Not only is Seattle home to the world’s greenest commercial building, the Bullit Center, but we also have the University of Washington’s campus-wide dedication to composting and a growing light rail system. Even more, Seattle is pioneering the use of coastal underwater turbines – a sustainable source of hydroelectric power that doesn’t impact important rivers and waterways. With our commitment to innovation in philanthropy, Jolkona is proud to call Seattle home.

The Green Cities campaign, a feature of Earth Day 2014, encourages cities to update their infrastructures and building codes to reduce emissions, increase efficiency and emphasize the development of key areas like public transportation, green buildings and renewable energy.

In honor of Earth Day 2014, YOU can take action in your community to promote the Green City vision. It is never too late to support a clean future for your home! Learn more from the Earth Day Network.

You can also support Earth Day globally by funding a project through Jolkona that supports the environment.

This Earth Day, join Jolkona in celebrating Seattle, the green city we call home, and work to improve sustainability both in your community and globally!

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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (C.A.S.H.) is a nonprofit working to alleviate poverty right here in Seattle, by helping entrepreneurs become financially self sufficient. As part of our Partner Spotlight series for Give Together November, we asked the organization some questions about this month’s project:

What’s your mission, and why? What inspires your organization?

Washington C.A.S.H. provides the business training, supportive community, and capital to help enterprising individuals with limited financial resources gain self-sufficiency through small business ownership. We serve individuals at the most vulnerable end of the economic spectrum: people whose assets and wealth have been greatly depleted by the economic downturn, and whose circumstances — including English language barriers, lack of literacy or education, poor or nonexistent credit, or cycles of persistent generational poverty— prevent them from advancing out of low-paying, inflexible employment. Our programs equip people to take ownership over their financial situations by becoming their own bosses and making a living pursuing their passion—whether that is landscaping, handcrafting jewelry, or selling gourmet pizzas a farmers’ markets and street fairs.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Washington C.A.S.H.’s cornerstone 8-week Business Development Training equips low-income entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge they need to become financially self-reliant through small business ownership. For financially vulnerable individuals, the BDT is a lifeline to help them build their confidence and define, organize, and launch their own micro-businesses.

What’s the impact of every $100 that our Give Together members raise for your organization?

Every quarter, at least twenty ambitious entrepreneurs want to enroll in the BDT but are unable to pay for course materials. This month, Washington C.A.S.H. seeks contributions to its “scholarship fund” to cover material fees for individuals enrolling in the next round of trainings. For every $100 that Give Together raises for this project, Washington C.A.S.H. will be able to waive the course materials fee for one low-income entrepreneur to enroll in the BDT and take their first step toward financial self-reliance.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month? 

  • Washington C.A.S.H. serves only low-income individuals; the average entrepreneur supports a family on $22,267 per year.
  • Washington C.A.S.H. is unique in the Puget Sound region in that it offers aspiring entrepreneurs a comprehensive toolbox of services that includes training, coaching, financial assistance (micro loans and matched savings accounts), AND retail incubation through the Ventures retail store.
  • Washington C.A.S.H. is remarkably successful: on average, businesses more than quadruple their revenue, and just over half (51%) of clients experience an increase in household income, within the first year and a half of receiving services.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

Before finding Washington C.A.S.H., Nelson faced challenging circumstances; he spent years in and out of homeless shelters and battling mental illness. Then a counselor referred him to our program, and Nelson began working closely with one of our experienced business coaches. Through customized training and coaching, Nelson learned how to overcome obstacles to the success of his business. Staff at Washington C.A.S.H.’s Ventures retail store in Pike Place Market helped Nelson refine his products and prepare them for larger markets. Now, nearly two years later, Nelson is CEO of Organic Teas United LLC and sells unique organic tea blends in several large retail outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Uwajimaya. Nelson is proud to be a client of Washington C.A.S.H.; he says, “The program reminds me of essential vitamins…our bodies won’t function optimally without the essentials.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our services helps people change their lives; with your help, a struggling single mother becomes CEO of her own small business; a disabled veteran launches his own company; or a young ambitious immigrant family opens up shop in their new country.

Give Together today to empower low-income entrepreneurs to become financially self-sufficient through small business ownership!

Check back on the Jolkona Blog for more installments of the Partner Spotlight series.

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There’s just 10 days left in our Animals theme for Jolkona’s Give Together campaign. Our growing community’s September donations are supporting the Snow Leopard Trust’s big cats, the Woodland Park Zoo’s baby animals and Reading With Rover’s therapy dogs. Have you joined yet?

RWR-Logo-Full-Color_

Reading With Rover, based in the greater Seattle area, may seem like the underdog in terms of organization size and social media footprint — but don’t be fooled. Who can resist a good dog? (Who’s a good boy? Whozagooboy? You are! You are!)

In the organization’s own words, here’s why it’s worthwhile to help dogs help kids learn to read:

What’s your mission, and why? What inspires your organization?jaba_001s

Our mission is create a safe reading environment for children by volunteering with our Reading with Rover therapy dogs in schools, libraries, community centers and anywhere there is a need. What inspires us is the joy on a child’s face when he/she reads to the dogs. What inspires us is when we hear from a father: “I’ve never heard him read aloud before, we were not sure he could read!” We make a difference in our community and we get to see that difference in the smiles on the children’s faces and the letters we get from parents. Helping kids learn empathy, become better readers and show kindness to a dog is a gift not only from our dogs but from the human end of the leash as well.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $175 for your organization, what’s our impact?

$175 helps a dog and handler become a registered team by supporting the training class. $75 sets up one low-income child with a beginning reading bag, reading books appropriate for their age and needed start up school supplies. $300 pays for a therapy dog team to get the training, testing and register to volunteer.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month?

Reading is an essential skill that children need to be successful. 40% of all children by 4th grade are not reading at grade level and do not have appropriate reading material in their home. We not only want to help children be better readers, we want them to discover the JOY of reading by volunteering with these non-judgmental creatures, our dogs. We have been able to achieve that. We also help children who have physical challenges, and autistic children as well. We are all things kids and dogs, both making a difference in the world we live in. The world to a child is a better place when they can not only read, but love reading as well!

We took a school whose lowest attended day was Thursday, and that day is now the highest attended day — the only thing that changed is it’s Reading with Rover day at that school. When children know there will be a dog in their class room that day, they show up!

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

A thank you note from a parent –boyanddog

How can I say thank you enough for everything that Reading with Rover has done for our daughter. I have always known that animals can have remarkable effects on humans and your Reading with Rover program just proves it. Our daughter has NLD, a Nonverbal Learning disorder, which effects her in many ways. One being reading and another is nonverbal social cues. She is very smart and so sweet but she realizes she is different and making friends is very hard for her. She is self-conscious about reading out loud, but when she read to the Reading with Rover dogs it was amazing. She wanted to read to every one of them that very first night and ever since then we have made it to every Reading with Rover event and will continue to do so. Our daughter gets headaches every time she reads, so it makes it very hard to motivate her to read but not at Reading with Rover. She doesn’t feel judged and that is so wonderful for her. We have seen a big improvement in her fluency and she has even started to read a little to her own puppy now, which we hope to train to be a Reading with Rover dog in the future.

I would recommend this program to any parent whether their child loves to read or not, it is just a great experience all around. Every one of the dogs and their handlers is so wonderful with the kids. My husband and I are avid readers and we have been reading to her since she was a baby and when we couldn’t seem to break through that barrier to get her to enjoy reading by herself we felt helpless but we don’t feel that way anymore and it is all due to your Reading with Rover program! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our daughter raise her self esteem and know the joys of reading.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Jolkona and look forward to helping our local children and of course the dogs with your support.

See? Good dog. Here’s a cookie! Gooboygooboygooboy.

For more on good dogs, and perhaps a cat or two, stay tuned to the Jolkona Blog and our social media channels (see below) all next week — we’ll be sharing #PetAdoption stories from our team, and would love to hear yours, too!

This post is part of our Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your September contribution to Reading With Rover or one of our other animal-related projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #Animals.

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The Woodland Park Zoo has joined Jolkona for this month’s Animal-themed Give Together campaign. The organization, a leader in educating the greater Seattle area and our visitors about wild animals and conservation, is raising money to help feed and care for its newest addition: a baby giraffe!

Tell us about your current project:

Woodland Park Zoo has been blessed with the births of some amazing animals. Our current baby boom started with four lion cubs in November. Then came the twin sloth bear cubs in December, followed by the triplet jaguar cubs in March, and our giraffe calf and six flamingo chicks this summer. All these animals are thriving at the zoo and inspiring people who see them to take conservation actions to protect their cousins in the wild.

Why should Give Together members support your project?

Zoos are responding to species decline and are leading the way in preserving animal populations. Wildlife and habitat conservation is the cornerstone to Woodland Park Zoo’s mission. Through the animals in our collection, we provide a window into the lives and habitats of the world’s wildlife, inspiring people from all walks of life to learn, care and act on their behalf. You can inspire conservation stewards and support animal ambassadors by contributing to this campaign.

How will donors see their impact?

Your gift supports state-of-the art veterinary care and feeding of the baby giraffe. We will share photos and videos of the calf and our other new animals as zookeepers and veterinarians work with them to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Tell us more about your organization:

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit www.zoo.org

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your September contribution to the Woodland Park Zoo or one of our other animal-related projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #Animals.

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Here at Jolkona, the giving doesn’t stop! We just finished up our Global Health theme for our monthly Give Together members; our featured cause for September is Animals.septheader

We often forget that we are sharing the earth with so many other living things, and that our actions — directly or indirectly — have a major impact on them. Here’s an overview of the three philanthropic projects you can support through this month’s Animals campaign:

1) Snow Leopard Trust

snow leapord 3

This organization focuses on conservation of snow leopards, an endangered species, and supporting the people who share their habitat in Central Asia. The Snow Leopard Trust believes the best way to help these big cats is through in-depth scientific research and community outreach programs. They have put tracking collars on five leopards to study where they go, how they interact with the environment around them, and what conflicts they face. In some communities, the Trust sets up herd insurance programs or helps villagers produce and sell handicrafts to make up for livestock losses, in exchange for committing to protecting these endangered predators. By choosing to support this project, you can help with both wildlife conservation of these beautiful animals and community development of the people struggling alongside them.

2) Reading with Rover

When Reading with Rover learned that 40 percent of American fourth-graders are not reading at grade level, they decided to take action. Ideally, the students would practice reading at home with their families, but many do not have age-appropriate books at home and their parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

boomerreadingReading with Rover not only provides elementary schools with reading materials, but encourages and motivates literacy by bringing in friendly therapy dogs to build up the confidence of slow readers scared of being mocked at school. The children get to improve their reading skills while having fun with a nonjudgmental, unconditionally supportive dog. By choosing to support this project, you can help Seattle children learn to love both reading and animals.

3) Woodland Park Zoo

The award-winning Woodland Park Zoo not only houses and exhibits a variety of species for its Seattle visitors, but helps support wildlife and their natural habitats around the world. Through its conservation and education mission, the zoo provides a window into the lives of the world’s wild animals, inspiring people from all walks of life to learn, care and act on their behalf. Last month, the zoo’s 6-year-old giraffe Olivia gave birth to a “small” (over 6 feet tall) calf.

Baby Giraffe

This is just the latest in the zoo’s recent baby boom, which includes twin sloth bears, triplet jaguar cubs and four lion cubs in the past year. The baby animals attract more visitors, but also require a lot of special care. By choosing to support this project, you will help the zoo ensure the calf has all his medical, dietary and habitat needs met for his challenging first year of life.

Now Let’s Give Together!

Now that you know something about each project, we hope you are inspired to join Jolkona’s Give Together community this month. Existing members: email your choice for this month’s contribution to givetogether@jolkona.org. By pooling our small donations, we can make a big difference!

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Feeling crafty?

In celebration of our new Give Together monthly philanthropy program, we are hosting an arty party at Seattle’s Material Good, home of the adorable Little Shirley vases!

Material Good vases

Paint your own pottery, enjoy some tasty food, sip a little wine and support a great cause with great company.

  • What: Paint Together, #GiveTogether
  • When: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm (or whenever you can get there!)
  • Where: Material Good Studio, 2959 Utah Ave S., Seattle
  • Why: Food, wine, live music and an excuse to get crafty. Did we mention it supports a great cause, too?
  • Tickets: Admission includes a pottery item of your choice to paint + food and wine. $20 for single tickets or $35 for 2 tickets in advance; $25 at the door.
  • How: Buy tickets here.

Grab a friend and join us on Friday, Sept. 6 – we hope to see you there!

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What makes a company stand out and truly sparkle among the sea of eager entrepreneurs ready to stand in the spotlight? Is there a language to a successful business? When your mission is to provide a non-profit example of humanitarian work, how do you gain enough recognition and generate enough buzz to truly be heard?

TRAY Creative is one such agency that develops a strong identity and unique marketing for any business, but especially for those who may lack an available resource due to low funding.

I had a chance to talk with Ralph Allora, TRAY Creative’s Principal/Marketing Director on their most recent campaign that ended before the new year. We provided them with the giving platform to make this event happen successfully. Get to know Ralph, TRAY Creative, and the challenge below:

What is the inspiration behind TRAY Creative’s Holiday Giving Challenge?
TRAY Creative is a big supporter of Jolkona, and we had been talking for some time about partnering on a corporate giving campaign. So we hit upon the idea of doing a Holiday Giving Challenge in December–a limited-time competition to raise money for a handful of selected nonprofits.
TRAY designed the online giving page and developed content for the social media and PR components of the campaign. Jolkona did the development work and hosted the page. We paid a licensing fee to cover development and hosting to ensure that the participating organizations received 100% of their pledged donations.
We approached four nonprofits based in Seattle to participate in the program, and they all agreed. We knew there had to be an incentive to get donors excited about the competition, so we added a reward: the organization that raised the most money would receive $2,500 in pro bono marketing and creative services from TRAY in 2012.

How was the response?
We were thrilled with the response. In just 26 days, we were able to raise almost $7,000 for the four nonprofits. Because these are locally focused organizations, that’s a meaningful number.

What is your personal experience with each non-profit organization featured in the campaign?
We picked these four organizations specifically because they represent causes we care about. People for Puget Sound represented the environment, the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation represented animal protection, FareStart represented economic empowerment, and the University of Washington Dream project represented education. For any business thinking about running a campaign like this, our advice would be to partner with organizations that align with your company’s core values. It’s critical to the success of the program.

What do you believe is the greatest public impact from this campaign?
Especially around the holidays, people are inundated with appeals from different nonprofits. There are so many choices, so many opportunities to give, so it’s important to create incentives, which we feel we did successfully. First, by offering a prize of pro bono assistance for the winning organization, we were able to keep donors motivated and show them that their dollars could go further. Second, because it was a competition the participating groups–TRAY and the nonprofits–actively used Facebook, Twitter, and e-marketing to rally their audiences throughout the campaign. We added a pie chart on the giving page, which updated the results in real time and kept it exciting down to the final days, when People for Puget Sound surged ahead and won the competition.

Looking forward to another campaign? Have anything in the works?
Yes, we’re hoping to make this an annual holiday tradition, and raise even more money this year. And we’re already talking to Jolkona about creating a giving-platform template that can be branded and customized so that other businesses can run this kind of cause-marketing campaign in a simple, cost-effective way. For any small or midsize company that’s looked at a miltimillion-dollar initiative and wondered how they can pull off their own small-scale version, we think this could be a great solution.

What does philanthropy mean to you?
Speaking from a business standpoint, philanthropy is about more than cutting a check for a nonprofit and calling it a day. It’s about giving back and expressing your company’s core values on multiple levels, whether that’s encouraging employee volunteerism, doing pro bono work, or getting employees, customers and vendors actively involved in a campaign like TRAY Holiday Giving Challenge. When you’re willing to put your company’s brainpower, time and resources to wrok on behalf of a cause you believe in, that’s true philanthropy.

6,768 dollars were raised during this challenge, and the winner was People for Puget Sound with a total of 2,880 dollars raised. Great job!
Click here to learn more about TRAY Creative, or follow their tweets.

As I write this, our Good Deeds campaign is 95% complete with $250 left to until we reach our goal of $5,000! The best thing about this campaign is meeting all of the donors who have given ˜good deeds” through this campaign.

On Monday, you met Kiran, a recent college graduate who is making around the world through her donations. On Tuesday, you met Sheri, a wife and a mother who donates to honor the memory of loved ones lost. And today, I’d like to introduce you to Donna O’Neill, a seasoned PR professional at Waggener Edstrom who is making a difference by supporting local projects.

Donna O'Neill

Meet Donna O’Neill of Seattle, WA

Donna O’Neill is a 25-year veteran of public relations and corporate communications and currently leads the Microsoft Health Solutions Group PR team at Waggener Edstrom, one of the largest global independent communications firms in the world and Jolkona’s partner in this campaign. Before joining Waggener Edstrom, Donna spent ten years in the financial services industry working in public relations, investor relations and corporate communications with the Wall Street investment firm Kidder, Peabody and Co. as well as financial services company KeyCorp.

Donna graduated with honors from the University of Rochester in upstate New York, where she majored in English. She also spent a semester in the south of France in Aix-en-Provence studying French and art history. Aside from work, the Albany, NY, native enjoys music, yoga and the outdoors, and spending time with her husband, son and two daughters. She also volunteers at Eastlake Community Church where she keeps the toddlers busy so their parents can take a break and focus on their faith. 🙂

1. Why did you give?

There were several aspects of this effort that caught my attention and made me want to help. First, Jolkona’s philosophy that all giving has an impact and that you don’t have to be wealthy or have lots of free time to volunteer to make an impact. Every gift, no matter how large or small, could still help make a difference. And being a busy working mom with three kids, I don’t have as much time right now to give back as I would like.

Second, I got to decide which project I wanted to support. It was exciting to review the great variety of programs to see which one resonated most with me.

Third, learning of a nonprofit that uses technology to facilitate low-cost, high-impact giving to social causes was a natural fit since I also work in technology and appreciate the benefits it enables.

Fourth, I loved the fact that for the first time, I would truly see how my gift helped real people so I can be part of the experience and see how it supports worthwhile programs.

2. Did knowing that your donation would be matched motivate you to give during this campaign?

Yes, and that was certainly a factor in making this opportunity more interesting — I wanted to help Waggener Edstrom and Jolkona meet their giving goal, but I would have donated anyway.

3. Which project did you give to?

I chose the project that teaches business skills to low-income people in Seattle. Prior to lending out microloans to low-income families, Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (CASH) provides supportive community business training and capital to help people with limited financial resources gain self-sufficiency through small business ownership. By supporting Washington CASH, we can help improve the economic conditions of Seattle’s lower income population. And with how difficult this economy has been over the last few years, our help is sorely needed.

Want to make a difference?

Waggener Edstrom Good Deeds Campaign on Jolkona

Donate to any project on Jolkona today and our partner, Waggener Edstrom, will match your donation, dollar-for-dollar, until we reach our goal of $5,000. (Which will probably happen today!) For every gift made during our Good Deeds campaign, you will receive two proofs of impact – one for the donation you make and the second proof for the donation Waggener Edstrom matches.

Let’s give!

Interested in sharing your story as a featured donor on our blog? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or send a good ol’ fashioned email to contact@jolkona.org.

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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Submitted by Jorji Knickrehm, Grants Manager at Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (or Washington CASH).

Figuring out how to foster new small businesses in low income communities is an ongoing passion here at Washington CASH. Yesterday, all twelve of our program staffers packed themselves into a small conference room, and tinkered for 4 hours with the curriculum of our core business development class. Maybe if we add a weekly lab to each of our classes, it will help more of our clients build businesses that will be around five years from now — businesses that will provide them with a living wage income and the happiness that comes from being self-determined. We’ve helped a lot of people, but we know there’s more out there with unfulfilled hopes.

Many times it is people who are new to the U.S. who encounter barriers as they try to get their feet under themselves financially. Tri Nguyen, for example, moved to Washington as a refugee from Southern Vietnam when he was 22 years old with his parents and two older brothers. “Before coming to America, we went overseas from Vietnam to Malaysia where we lived in a refugee camp for 7 years. We were then sent back to Vietnam for two more years, where we continued to await acceptance into the United States as political refugees. Finally, the United States government opened its doors and welcomed us to America, a free country we had been seeking for almost half of our lives.”

After spending two years learning English, he attended Highline Community College where he received his Associates degree before transferring to Washington State University and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in education. While an undergraduate, Tri worked for two years with a cleaning company where 99% of employees were Vietnamese. His fluency in English allowed Tri to take on a management role within the company, which ultimately provided him the experience and knowledge necessary to start his own venture. “I started my own business to help fellow Vietnamese people by providing job opportunities here in America.”

Tri completed Business Development Training with Washington CASH in June 2009 and has since entered Business Groups, a program providing business support and access to capital in the form of peer loans. His new business, Tri Mountain Cleaning Services, Inc., offers both commercial and residential cleaning services, using only non-toxic products to create a safe environment for pets and children.

The name of his business, Tri Mountain Cleaning Services, Inc., stems not only from his first name, but for the three mountains he says complete his business: himself, family & friends, and Washington CASH. “My company cannot stand by itself. Before CASH, I didn’t know how to do the things necessary to open a business. Now I’m ready to go.”

While he currently has about ten regular customers and employees as needed, Tri envisions expanding to include about five new customers every month, opening more commercial accounts, and hiring more employees. “I was so excited when I got my first customer with Tri Mountain. In that moment, I knew I was going to be successful. Even though it was a small contract, it was a big moment. Owning my own business has given me confidence I never knew I had.” Figuring out how to help more people get that great feeling of empowerment; that’s what gets us out of bed in the morning at Washington CASH.

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