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Happy Valentine’s Day to our donors, partners and volunteers!

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We love working with you to make the world better for our generation and brighter for future generations. Thank you so much for your support over the past six years.

And if you’re still searching for a meaningful gift for that special someone in your own life,  we hope you consider making a dedicated donation to one of our partners. We have dozens of philanthropy projects to choose from in Asia, Africa, North and South America. Something for everyone, whether your sweetie is passionate about education, health, human rights, job creation, animals or the environment.

On a related note, when shopping for gifts or other items online, you can use the Amazon Smile website to designate a nonprofit like Jolkona or our partners to benefit from a small percentage of your purchases.

Love to give, give to love.

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

I was at one of Jolkona’s All Hands Meetings recently, and one of the ice-breaker questions posed to us was, “What’s one of the kindest things you’ve ever done?” It was an apt question seeing that we were all involved in philanthropy. Because it’s one thing being asked that if you all work for – I don’t know – Goldman Sachs, but it’s quite another when you all work or volunteer at a non-profit. And to be perfectly honest, I had a torrid time trying find an answer. Not because I was overwhelmed by the abundant choice of numerous and extraordinary acts of generosity that I had so compassionately performed; rather, it was for a complete lack of them. But ask me what’s one of my favorite places to eat, or one of my favorite Bob Dylan albums and you can bet I’ll give you several answers straight off the bat (Pho Cyclo, Poquitos, Blonde On Blonde, Blood On The Tracks….).

Why is this? I think it’s simple: food and music are significant parts of my life. Acts of kindness, less so.

Enter Generosity Day.

Generosity Day

Generosity Day started with Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer at Acumen Fund. Struck by his feelings of wanting to ignore the person who had boarded the train asking for money, he one day decided to start what he called the “Generosty Experiment”—a month-long experiment to say “yes” to every single request for help. Later in February 2011, a small group of people participated in a panel discussion during Social Media Week. After the discussion, Sasha Dichter was talking to the other panelists about his “Generosity Experiment”. Inspired and energized, the group suggested that they rally people around generosity on Valentine’s Day, which was just three days later.

Dichter later gave a brilliant TED talk about his experiment. In it he candidly admits that, despite working at a ground breaking non-profit, fundraising for many worthy causes, and caring deeply about the world’s brokenness, he was still a person who said No to generosity. His experiment was an attempt to break that habit.

I think most of us can relate to the reflex of No when we’re approached for help. Or maybe we sometimes say Yes, but in our heads and our hearts we’re thinking No. As Dichter comments, breaking that habit requires practice. And that is what Generosity Day is about: beginning to make acts of kindness a normal part of our lives. But this isn’t some Occupy Valentine’s Day movement. Instead, it’s about reclaiming Valentine’s Day with acts of sincere kindness and love – not obligation. It’s about making a start.

Dichter writes on his blog,

“Give to people on the street. Tip outrageously. Help a stranger. Write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them. Smile. Donate (more) to a cause that means a lot to you. Take clothes to GoodWill. Share your toys (grownups and kids). Be patient with yourself and with others. Replace the toilet paper in the bathroom. All generous acts count!”

And here’s another great thing about Generosity Day, it doesn’t – as Valentine’s Day so shamefully does – exclude those who are single or without love. Single, engaged, married, divorced, or widowed, it calls all of us to participate.

How will you participate?

Here are a few generous ideas for you:

Find out more and go to the Generosity Day website here.

Witness acts of generosity via the Facebook page.

Tweet the love using the #generosityday hashtag.

Share the love with those in need this Generosity Day by making a donation through Jolkona.

Or here’s a loving idea I wrote about earlier this week: Jolkona’s Valentine’s Day gift cards.

Spread the love and like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and re-pin our pins on Pinterest.

As an English teacher living in Italy I used to make all my students memorize Shakespeare. It didn’t matter what level they were – beginners or advanced – everyone had to memorize Shakespeare. Specifically, Sonnet XVIII: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate….” At the beginning of every lesson I would reveal a new line and, like they used to do in the good old days, we would chant it together over and over. Usually, the aim was to have them memorize it in full for Valentine’s Day. The joke being, if they didn’t have a romantic figure in their life, it was a sure way to get one; and if they did, it was a sure way to keep them! But truthfully, I used to do it for other reasons: it was different, it was certainly practical (okay maybe not quite as practical as “Excuse me, where is the train station?” But it still had plenty of good vocabulary and useful grammar structures to learn), it was powerful, and it was memorable.

Wouldn’t it be great, then, if we could do the same with Valentine’s Day this year? Not memorize Shakespeare (though that would be quite a worthy feat in itself), but couldn’t we also do something this year that made Valentine’s Day feel different, practical, powerful, and memorable? You can.

Here’s an idea: instead of sending your loved ones the clichéd Hallmark Valentine’s card, why don’t you send them a Jolkona Valentine’s gift card.

How do they work?

It’s really very simple:

Choose your template

Purchase the gift card for your desired amount

Send the gift card to someone you love

The recipient redeems the gift card via any of our projects

In short, you’re giving so someone else can give. And if love is a gift, then this is love.

Forget not: actions speak louder than words. So this year, tell someone you love them by empowering them to take action. Besides, nothing says I love you like empowerment.

Make this year’s Valentine’s Day different, practical, powerful, and memorable. Send a Jolkona gift card and cultivate change here.

Spread the love and like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and re-pin our pins on Pinterest.

Let’s face it, although the principles at the heart of Valentine’s Day are noble, the day itself has decayed into something embarrassingly gaudy and grossly over-commercialized. But this is not just my opinion; it’s that of millions of others who are ditching Valentine’s Day and rebooting their February 14th as Generosity Day. In their own words, it’s one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying Yes.

What is this? you might ask, some Occupy Valentine’s Day movement? Not really. It’s simply about reclaiming actions of love – not obligation – for Valentine’s Day. It’s about doing away with the usual kitsch, and instead, showing your love with acts of costly and generous kindness to those you know and love – and to those you don’t. It is, if you like, about putting the O! back into love.

Started last year by Sasha Dichter, Chief Innovation Officer for Acumen Fund, the idea spread like wildfire and became what it is today – a million-strong movement of people. On his blog, Dichter suggests,

“Give to people on the street. Tip outrageously. Help a stranger. Write a note telling someone how much you appreciate them. Smile. Donate (more) to a cause that means a lot to you. Take clothes to GoodWill. Share your toys (grownups and kids). Be patient with yourself and with others. Replace the toilet paper in the bathroom. All generous acts count!”

And you know one of the things that seriously bothers me about our glitzy twenty-first century Valentine’s Day – indeed, I loathe this – it systematically excludes those who are single. Because they don’t know how to love? Or because they’re unworthy of receiving love? How flagrantl unfair and apocryphal! Generosity Day does not discriminate against relationship status. Single, engaged, married, or divorced, it calls all of us to participate.

How will YOU participate? Here are a few generous ideas for you:

Go to the Generosity Day website here.

Witness acts of generosity via the Facebook page.

Tweet the love using the #generosityday hashtag.

Share the love with those in need this Generosity Day by making a donation through Jolkona

Or here’s a loving idea I wrote about last week: Jolkona’s Valentine’s Day gift cards.

 

 

 

Has your Mum ever sent you a Valentine’s card? I’m quite certain mine has – and on many occasions. You see, there was a period in my life from when I was about eleven to when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, where on every February 14th I would receive a blank Valentine’s card in the mail. Sweet but also mysterious. More intriguing was the fact that each year the handwriting on the envelope was different. The plot thickens, though. Not only was the handwriting different, but by looking at the stamp I could see that each year the card had been mailed from a different location. Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I’m pretty sure only my Mum could have been so diligent – and kind – to prepare with such consistent aforethought. Mind you, I’ve never asked her, so I could be wrong. Nevertheless, it was a pretty original idea, you have to agree.

And here’s another original idea for Valentine’s Day: a Jolkona gift card.

How do they work?

It’s really very simple:

Choose your template

Purchase the gift card for your desired amount

Send the gift card to someone you love

The recipient redeems the gift card via any of our projects

In short, you’re giving so someone else can give. And if love is a gift, then this is love.

Forget not: actions speak louder than words. So this year, tell someone you love them by empowering them to take action. Besides, nothing says I love you like empowerment.

Send a Jolkona gift card and cultivate change here.

 

GET INVOLVED!