This week we are so thrilled to celebrate National Volunteer Week because volunteers are so important to us at Jolkona. A volunteer is a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking and someone who offers a service willingly without pay (, 2013)

In 2011, it’s estimated that almost 8.1 billion hours were spent volunteering which equates to every single American volunteering for an entire day without sleeping! Furthermore, within each age group the Millenials (ages 16-33) and Generation X (ages 33-45) contributed over 50% of the annual volunteerism.

What does this all mean to Jolkona? We are a small organization that is powered by numerous volunteers and interns. Thanks to the dedication of others’ generosity and love for volunteerism, Jolkona has completed many amazing projects, such as building a new website, launching a new giving program, implementing fantastic blog posts and social media campaigns, visiting partner projects around the world, endless fundraising and social event planning and execution and much, much more. We are so thankful for our volunteers! And one volunteer in particular that we wanted to feature this month is Chi Do.


Chi has been with Jolkona for the last few years now helping out in various aspects. Chi started helping out on the events team and also on the partner management team where she helped create and conduct a survey with some of our non-profit partners to help us improve our features for them. In addition to running an array of fundraising campaigns for Jolkona partners over the years, she also organized a huge Jolkona event at Microsoft last year that raised over $7,000. Chi came up with the idea and took initiative to host the “Night of Fashion and Giving”, a multi-faceted event including overseeing over 20 volunteer models, compiling numerous cultural and ethnic outfits from around the world and organizing donated food for over 100 guests. She has also traveled with the Jolkona team on 2 international trips to visit partners and volunteer, and is always eager to do more! This year Chi is heading up our events committee and we’re confident that she’ll help build a stronger, more engaged community of supporters of Jolkona in Seattle.

Recently on a sign up sheet for 2013 Jolkona activities, when asked “What would you like to do for Jolkona?” Chi wrote “Anything and Everything :)” This sums up Chi’s passion for Jolkona and volunteerism.

Here’s what some other people at Jolkona had to say about Chi:

“Chi is among one of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve met, which makes for a great volunteer and friend. One of the things I love most about Chi is that she not only enjoys having a good time, but she is very organized and committed to her responsibilities. She is a great volunteer because she makes volunteering fun and is always willing to help out with anything, from tabling at an event, to organizing volunteers and more. I am so grateful to have Chi as part of the Jolkona team and helping to grow our community this year through our new events strategy.” -Nadia Mahmud

“Chi has contributed to various events – Fashion Show, multiple Giving Campaigns, and is currently the director of the events team. She has amazing passion for Jolkona and we have always been able to count on her to get things done on time! She is a big reason for our successful fashion show at the giving campaign at Microsoft in 2012. Working with Chi and knowing her over the past 3+ years has been an incredible experience. We are glad to have her as part of Jolkona!” -Pavan Potaraju

“Chi put together a great fashion show for the Microsoft Giving Campaign. She was meticulous with detail and kept us excited and energized the whole way through. She is also an awesome chef and always made incredible food at our events. We also bonded through a flight delay disaster at Peru at a Jolkona trip years ago. Chi is very dedicated volunteer and we are so lucky to have her on the team!” -Nancy Xu

Thank you, Chi for all the work, effort, and time you have given to Jolkona!

Do you take time to help others on a regular basis? Do you give your time and resources to another cause in need? Are you sharing volunteer opportunities with others in your network? Are you interested in volunteering for Jolkona? Email as at

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter,  Pinterest, and Instagram.

This whole week we’re celebrating National Volunteer Week! That means we’re celebrating our volunteers, who are absolutely integral to all we do, and without whom we can honestly say, we would be nowhere! So first and foremost, thank you Jolkona volunteers!

But, this week is also about encouraging others to volunteer. Do you take time to help others on a regular basis? Do you give your time and resources to another cause in need? Are you sharing volunteer opportunities with others in your network? Part of that encouragement is about awareness of how important volunteering truly is. So, we thought we’d kick this week off with some stats. This infographic is staggering, and will help you understand just how essential volunteers are.

Are you interested in volunteering for Jolkona? Email as at

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter,  Pinterest, and Instagram.

In preparation for our annual Corks & Forks fundraising event, our team envisioned an amazing event with all fundraising elements- silent auction, live auction and program to highlight and illustrate all of the wonderful work Jolkona does. As the planning continued, we knew the elements of the evening’s program had to include a media piece about Jolkona. For the guests who were familiar with our organization and for the guests who were getting to know us, we needed a video to encompass all parts of Jolkona.

Enter Lucas Gregor, new Jolkona intern, fresh out of college and willing to take the lead on writing, shooting and editing Jolkona’s first impact video. For weeks, he dedicated his time to shooting in various locations from the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture park to Cal Anderson park on Capitol Hill to the Jolkona office downtown. With every part of the video from scouting locations, to bringing confidence and empathy to the video participants to editing, Lucas displayed passion and ease. The video encompasses testimonies from Jolkona partners, donors, volunteers and a board member to highlight what giving is all about. Here is Lucas’ brilliant work and final video:

In addition to giving over a hundred hours in creating the Jolkona impact video, Lucas is always available to help with other volunteer needs. In the month of October, Lucas volunteered at the Corks & Forks event, manipulating the media for the evening’s program. He also was a stellar bar tender at Jolkona’s Microsoft Giving Campaign’s international fashion show A Night of Fashion and Giving. Even with a last minute request, Lucas is always willing to help others and to be available to support Jolkona.

“Lucas is easy going, dedicated, and has an eye for creating great videos. He has been an amazing asset to the Jolkona team over the last six months. One of the first projects he worked on was our Volunteer Dancing video which was an editing project piecing together videos from around the world with our volunteers dancing while visiting our partners. The goal was to inspire more people to get involved with volunteering and he did an amazing job. Lucas’s internship is coming to an end and we’re sad to have him go but are truly grateful for all the creative storytelling he has helped Jolkona with in just a short period and we wish him all the luck in his future endeavors.” – Nadia Mahmud (Jolkona CEO)

“Lucas was a gem to work with from the start! The first time I met him, I showed him our dance clips – there were more than 20 clips, filmed to different songs, different tempos especially when we couldn’t hear the music, and often had shaky hands as our volunteer cameramen. I thought he would need at least 3 weeks to get this sorted out but he came back in a week with a rough cut that blew all of us away. The quality of his work continues with the video he made for corks and forks and I’m excited to see his artistic abilities continue to grow as Jolkona grows!” – Nancy Xu (Jolkona Volunteer)

Lucas has easily become part of Jolkona’s amazing volunteer team and we are so very thankful for his time and commitment!  Thanks so much Lucas!

Interested in being a Jolkona volunteer? Drop us a line at You can also keep up with us on  FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

We’re fortunate at Jolkona to have a group of stellar volunteers. They’re a mixed bunch coming from all over. But they all have one thing in common: they’re passionate about engendering change – for the good. Meet one such volunteer: Takuhiro Kodani. Takuhiro is 22 and comes from Tottori, a small village in the south west of Japan. He’s a regular at the Jolkona office and just started his own Jolkona campaign. Check it out here. I caught up with him and asked him a few questions about his time here and a little more about the campaign and the project he’s supporting.

So Takuhiro, what brings you to Seattle?
I came here to study International Business. I’m currently taking an International Business program at Bellevue College.

Are you enjoying your time here?
Yes, absolutely. I’m really enjoying Seattle life – beautiful days and great food!

Are you looking forward to going back to Japan or will you be sad to leave Seattle?
Actually, I will be sad. Obviously life is very different in Japan. I think I like the lifestyle and culture better here in Seattle; it suits me!

How long have you been interning here at Jolkona?
Since May. So a little over three months.

Why did you decide to get involved with Jolkona?
For two reasons: for a long time now I’ve been interested in non-profit operations and management. The culture of non-profits in Japan is very different from those in the US. So I wanted to experience and learn those differences. Secondly, I am also interested in empowerment projects, especially in developing countries. Last year I stayed in Bangladesh for three months and what I experienced there had a big impact on me. I realized that I wanted to do something to empower those less fortunate than myself. Then I found out about Jolkona. I saw what it was doing and it really appealed to me.

Is this your first time working with a non-profit?
Yes it is.

How has the experience been so far?
It’s been great. I’ve learned so much from Jolkona and its members, a lot of which I could never learn from studying.

Tell us a bit about the volunteer work you do and the projects you’re involved with.
Mainly I’m in charge of promoting Jolkona’s Japenese projects. There are 6 Japanese projects, so I promote them through social media like Facebook and Twitter. In addition to that, I supported Jolkona’s co-founder, Adnan Mahmud, when he came to Japan to give a series of talks in four cities. I helped promote his events through a Japanese Web magazine and by putting him in touch with other non-profit social entrepreneurs.

So you’re running your own campaign. Why did you decide to do this?
When I came to Seattle I met and talked to lots of people. Many times I was asked about Fukushima and the Tohoku region which was devastated by the Tsunami in April of 2011. The only thing I was ever really able to say was that current situation was still bad and that a lot more help was needed to complete the rebuilding. I myself then began wondering what I could do. I knew Jolkona had several Japanese projects which supported the rebuilding of Tohoku, so I decided to get involved myself and support Japan from Seattle. So that’s why I’m running this campaign.

Can you tell us a bit more about the campaign?
This campaign supports ETIC, a Japanese non-profit organization which helps young leaders who are trying to rebuild the Tohoku region by giving them technical assistance and leadership training. You can support their work by making a donation from as small as $5. My goal is to fund 5 EITC leaders. My campaign started today!

What do you hope to show people by doing this campaign?
I want people to understand that, although the disaster happened over a year ago, there are still many challenges in the rebuilding the Tohoku region. The work is not finished and I don’t want it to be forgotten.

What would your advice be to young people who want to get involved in philanthropy?
First, I think it’s important to pay attention to what is going around you. If there is a problem that you can resolve, then take action. But there are so many resources available to us. The internet and online giving platforms, like Jolkona, are great examples of this.

Finally, are you confident you will hit your campaign target?
Yes, I am confident I’ll hit my target for the campaign. It’s a great project, and I really hope a lot of people will see that and help me fund it.

Check out Takuhiro’s campaign page and help him help others.

Want to start your own campaign for a project you’re passionate about? It’s easy! Click here to find out just how easy it really is!

To bring a little light to the recent June Gloom, we would like to take a moment to recognize Nancy Xu as this month’s featured volunteer. Nancy is a program manager at Microsoft for the Widows Design Studio and first got involved with Jolkona through the giving campaign events we planned at Microsoft in 2010. She has been a volunteer ever since. Over the years, Nancy has worked on several projects for Jolkona, including partner trip coordination and creative storytelling. However, most recently, Nancy has been working tirelessly with two other stellar volunteers: Punit Java, and Pavan Potaraju on building our first Windows phone app called Change by Jolkona – an innovative mobile app that lets you track the progress of a habit you wish to change while making a positive impact in the world through Jolkona’s diverse range of partner projects. Nancy was in charge of the app design and some of the management behind it. The app will be going live shortly so stay tuned!

Before working on the design for the Windows mobile app, Nancy volunteered on several video projects for Jolkona, including our most recent production for our Hulu PSA. Prior to that, she also helped produce and direct our Kids Give Back video and our short video Why Give. Nancy is a tremendous example of how young professionals can use their passion and professional skill set to give back. By pursuing her passion of storytelling, over the years she has helped Jolkona tell our story and those of our partners. She embodies what volunteering should be about: aligning your skills and passions to make a positive impact and further an organization’s mission.

Here’s what some of our volunteers have said about working with Nancy:

“Nancy is a wonderful volunteer for Jolkona. She has so much passion for her work and has helped develop amazing media campaigns, such as spearheading the new Jolkona PSA spot for Hulu. Despite having a full-time job at Microsoft, she pledges much of her time actively volunteering and participating in so many events and partner visits. Nancy is an indispensible asset and Jolkona is lucky to have her on the team.”
Rekha Ravindran

“Nancy is a priceless asset to Jolkona. She has boundless passion for Jolkona and we have always been able to count on her to get the job done – and how! She is a big reason for our successful partner visits in East Africa and South America in the last 2 years – it would not have been possible without her! Her significant contribution to our Hulu video, other video editing projects, and the case study (in business club style) she did with the students at Generation Rwanda in December 2010 exemplify her extraordinary ability to take on a challenge and do it well!
Working with Nancy over the past 2+ years has been an incredible experience. We are lucky to have her as part of Jolkona!”
Pavan Potaraju

“Nancy is super passionate about her video/media work for Jolkona. I had the opportunity to travel with Nancy to South America, especially in Peru where it was just the two of us. She is deeply understanding and respectful of other cultures, as well as compassionate. She is also delightfully friendly and blissfully easy to get along with. When we interacted with a Partner in Peru, Nancy was exceptionally well-prepared, exploring all angles of their work with her intelligent and well-thought out questions – I was most impressed!”
Chi Do

One of the things I’ve come to admire and respect most about Nancy over the years is her fastidious organization and supreme ability to execute on projects, which I’m sure she’s garnered from her Program Manager position at Microsoft. These skills have been clearly demonstrated on all the Jolkona projects she has volunteered with. Jolkona is remarkably fortunate to have the dedication and support of so many amazing volunteers, and Nancy is no exception. Thank you, Nancy, for being one of our rockstar volunteers and a stalwart advocate for Jolkona.

Are you in interested in volunteering? Do you want to use your passions and skills to help build a new generation of philanthropists? Find out more information by emailing us at You can also keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.



Note from editor: Post written by Chi Do, a passionate Jolkona volunteer.

Nested in the foothill of the mountains leading to Machu Picchu is a small town called Ollantaytambo. We visited Awamaki, a non-profit grass roots organization that was revamped in 2009, yet its beginnings are decades old. Their mission is to provide support for highland communities, especially of benefit to the women and children who reside there.

Awamaki’s aesthetically decorated store brings weaving and knitting products to consumers. These materials and pieces come from communities deep in the mountainside, handmade by the local families. It is truly a family business with help from the wife, husband and their children. In this way, Awamaki provides business opportunities that strengthen the whole community. Awamaki has recently implemented a mobile clinic program which provides medical assistance in remote areas. This fulfills a great need, as horses are the only mode of transportation for these locations. Sustainable tourism is another interesting aspect of Awamaki. It makes perfect sense as Ollantaytambo is a town that relies heavily on tourism. It is a great idea for incorporating social enterprise in their strategies, as well as generating a stable source of funding for Awamaki’s programs.

What stuck out to me the most was the high number of volunteers Awamaki gets every year.  We met only 5 volunteers during their quieter season, but they can get up to 25 volunteers at peak time. Most are young adults from the United States; high school or college graduates, young professionals who look for a change in their career directions, or just wanting to learn about a different world than their own. We spoke to Amy, a current volunteer. She gave up a job offer right after college to volunteer with Awamaki for 6 months. She desired to pursue a passion of serving the underprivileged.  There was also Jon and Emily, a couple from Chicago who are spending the next 6 months contributing to the programs at Awamaki in any way they can. As I hear more stories from the volunteers, I feel proud. We are the young generation who think about others, who want to make a difference in this world, and who do something to keep that passion going.

Awamaki became a partner of Jolkona in late 2011. As I see it, this partnership has the potential to provide additional opportunities for volunteer exchange or connection with sustainable tourism.

Check out their work here and provide any support as you see fit.

Participate in our Jolkona campaign for Awamaki.

Join the Twitter conversation with Jolkona, or stay connected with Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to join our team?

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

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

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

Dates and details about hiring process:

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

We look forward to meeting you!

Imagine something that has been proven to make you happier, healthier and more confident while being environmentally friendly, and having absolutely no adverse side effects. I am not referring to a new miracle drug or infomercial for aroma-therapy candles, but simply the act of giving. People have long known that altruism carries its own rewards. History is filled with references to the fact that in giving there is also receiving, however, there is still some debate as to why.

In his latest op-ed piece Our Basic Human Pleasures: Food, Sex, and Giving, Nicolas Kristof claims that giving leads individuals to live happier, more fulfilling lives (so far so good). Yet, he goes on to argue that because of this giving is, in fact, a selfish act. He demonstrates that we give not necessarily out of our interest for others, but because we feel good doing so.

While I don’t believe it was Kristof’s intent, he has fed the flames of an old debate, that volunteers and philanthropists aren’t out to help others, but to feel good about themselves. As an economics student I have heard this argument before, that of “Homo Economicus”, or the economic man. The premise of the Homo Economicus model is that human behavior is solely dictated by self-interest, or rather everyone is out for themselves. Under this model firemen wouldn’t run into burning buildings, there would be little volunteerism, and as Kristof asserts, charity would be self-interest in disguise. Yet, firemen do run into burning buildings, we do volunteer a substantial number of hours (over 8 billion hours in 2009), and we give an immense amount to charity ($230 billion in 2008 (see Adnan’s article posted back in June). So what’s wrong with this explanation?

While there is no denying that being altruistic feels good, emerging research tells us it is for a completely different reason then self gain. It turns out we give because we are social creatures. In a recent study participants were asked to either keep a $128 research stipend for themselves, or donate part of their stipend to charity all while being monitored on an MRI. When subjects chose to give (and they often did) their brain activated “reward pathways” as if they were fulfilling a selfish act such as eating; however these pathways were stimulated by regions associated with social, not selfish behavior. The conclusion of course being that we are innately driven to give not out of selfish, but communal interest.

Within the greater context of human interaction such a behavior makes sense. Being group-oriented creatures, what tends to be in the interest of one is in the interest of all. Yet, we must admit that sometimes our selfish desires blind us to what is truly best for our community, and ultimately ourselves. Thus, our innate drive to give is our brain’s way of subconsciously combating our selfish tendencies of “Homo Economicus”, which explains why we give above and beyond what is purely advantageous to us. This research also tells us that giving to communal needs can be just as instinctively rewarding as fulfilling personal needs, such as food or shelter. This finally explains why those of us who give often are found to be much happier than those of us who don’t give at all. And, there is no refuting that happy people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

So what does this all mean in practice? The next time you are having a down day, happiness may not be found in another latte or a new pair of shoes, but a donation. Intuitively we know that a latte will only make us happy until we reach the bottom of our cup, but giving someone the amazing gift of a healthy child or an education will give us reason to be happy for days, months, and even years to come. When we focus on giving rather than getting we not only help others, but ironically help ourselves, which we know, buried within the depths of our brain, is the gift of giving.

Kristof’s article:

Jorge Moll et al., “Human Fronto–Mesolimbic Networks Guide Decisions About Charitable Donation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (2006).

Volunteer statistics: