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Jolkona Team

Image credit: Karen Ducey

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

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

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

Credit Karen Ducey

On Monday night, October 3rd, Jolkona competed along side 13 other social innovators at Social Venture Partner’s Social innovation fast pitch for the chance to win a piece of the total prize money worth $170,000. It was a full house at the Fischer Pavilion at the Seattle Center with a crowd of more than 600 people in attendance all coming to hear 5-minute pitches of the top social innovations in Seattle ranging from high school students, college students, and seasoned social entrepreneurs.  Jolkona was honored to be one of 14 groups to pitch that night, and even more honored to have won the $15,000 Social Endeavors Award for our new initiative– licensing our micro-giving platform to help non-profits improve fundraising online.

While the competition was very stressful, it was also a forcing factor to help us get our “pitch” down. I’d like to thank Social Venture Partners and specifically Will Poole and his massive team of volunteers for organizing such a great event.  And I’d like to give a special shoutout to some of the amazing volunteer coaches/mentors that helped me with my pitch:  Susan Bloch, Ken Pawlak, Ted Weiler, and Dan Kranzler.  Thank you for believing in me and in Jolkona’s work and for helping to take our idea to the next level!  And a BIG thank you to all the Jolkona volunteers, board, and advisers that came to support that night.  Last, congrats to all the other winners that night!

Credit: Karen Ducey

It’s been a CRAZY week at Jolkona HQ, with the big win on Monday, all the follow-up from the great connections we made that night, and the start of Microsoft’s and King County’s Giving Campaign Month, but we are energized and excited to be moving forward with our new innovation.

Check out pictures from the event here and read articles about the event posted on the Puget Sound Business Journal and on Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Blog.

 

Nadia Khawaja Mahmud of Jolkona presenting at Social Innovation Fast Pitch

On Monday, September 19th, Jolkona competed along with 37 quarterfinalists for the chance to advance in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) where nonprofits and social enterprises can win grants/investments from a $170,000 pool of money.

Jolkona co-founders were speaking at a conference this past weekend at Harvard University to launch our NextGen initiative and came straight from the airport to compete at SIFP taking place at Paccar Hall at the University of Washington. After a long day of pitches and deliberations from the judges, we are excited to announce Jolkona was chosen to be present next week at the semi-finals along with 20 other nonprofits and social enterprises for a chance to present at the final event on October 3. Congratulations to all the other winners who advanced to the semi-finals!

If you haven’t purchased your tickets, it should be a fantastic day so we encourage you to attend. Plus, 100% of ticket price is a donation to support the top social innovations in Seattle. Read more about why you should attend and how to get your tickets.

Want to read more about SIFP? Here’s a great article by Rebecca Lovell, one of the SIFP judges: Social Innovation: Goldilocks and doing well by doing good.

Special thanks to Jolkona’s awesome SIFP mentors, Ken Pawlak and Tim Weiler for coaching Jolkona on our pitch and helping us make it to the next round! Also, a big thanks to Jolkona Advisory board member, Susan Bloch for also spending valuable time helping with the “pitch.”

Another round of fine-tuning our pitch is ahead once we receive feedback from the judges. So wish us luck next week and we hope to see you in the audience on the third. Even if Jolkona does not make it to the final round, we are invited to present our idea that day so we hope to see you all there!

Nadia working in the office

On September 1, Jolkona learned that we were one of 54 organizations selected to compete in the quarterfinal round of Seattle’s Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP). Presented by Social Venture Partners, SIFP is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs, local nonprofits and social businesses to receive coaching and mentoring and to compete for more than $170,000 in grants and investments.

This week I attended a pitching workshop hosted and facilitated by SIFP where quarterfinalists had the opportunity to present our five-minute pitches to a panel of mentors and speaking coaches for feedback for the next round. I have to say, preparing a five-minute pitch is hard work! To explain what we do, how we do it, and why it’s innovative and important, all in five minutes, is super challenging to say the least, and especially in short notice. Despite spending hours over the weekend working on my deck and pitch, I didn’t have enough time to be totally prepared. Yet it was an extremely eye-opening learning experience that was well worth the effort.

Not only was preparing my pitch slides and story for our new initiative to start licensing our platform super helpful, but having the opportunity to practice in front of peers and mentors, most of whom do not know anything about Jolkona, was even more helpful. Hearing both the positive feedback and the areas I need to work on to make our pitch clear was extremely educational and productive and gives me hope and confidence in the new direction Jolkona is heading. My next challenge is to figure out how to incorporate the feedback and suggestions I received and still stay within five minutes for the quarterfinal round pitch on September 19! I have the next two weeks to figure it out, but hopefully I’ll get there. Stay tuned . . . and wish us luck!

Want to attend the SIFP? Read this blog post, New Ideas for Social Impact, by Joe Wallin at Davis Wright Tremaine, a SIFP sponsor.

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