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Rather than reducing income inequality and providing access to the same opportunities, higher education seems to be maintaining, the status quo.

Anyone who has attended a University in the last decade has been aware of the skyrocketing costs of tuition.  For me, the small increases on my tuition statement every quarter, combined with the occasional obligatory (and often poorly attended) student strike in protest became a normal part of my academic landscape. However, I have realized that the world of higher education is highly complex, and very parallel to the struggles of the collective student body.

closing school

Two recent stories show that this struggle is played out not just between students, but between universities as well, especially private schools. With the recession, small private schools with less access to resources are at higher risk of closing. These are schools that struggle with funding, as they often do not receive the massive donations that larger schools do, and have to rely only on student fees to survive. In turn, they are less able to provide amenities and the level of quality necessary to draw in a healthy student body in a competitive student landscape.

However, this is not endemic of the greater higher education industry suffering as a whole. One of the latest scandals in the field was the news that NYU was giving its “stars” housing loans and other enormous monetary benefits to keep them at the school.  This has caused outrage, since NYU is one of the most expensive institutions in the US to attend, and its students have been leaving with startling amounts of debt.  When its faculty and other academic assets are being paid massive bonuses, and its president makes 7 figures, the news of this further fiscal abuse is truly disheartening. Clearly NYU isn’t raising tuition costs in order to survive like smaller private schools. They are doing it because they can.

So, what do these stories tell us? They tell us that the same trends that maintain income inequality between students even after attending a university are endemic on a higher level. These trends are apparent in the private sector of higher education as a whole from school to school.  What is even more distressing, is private universities such as NYU and its small, failing brethren, are non-profits. We expect the for-profit education industry (which accounts for a full fifth of college students) to financially exploit students. What we don’t expect is that a famous non-profit private school, which receives substantial donations, would land its students with a huge financial burden in order to fund second homes for famous faculty.

This is a time where more Americans are earning degrees than ever, and the changing nature of jobs means that applicants need more specialized training than before. Access to higher education, is becoming more of a necessity, and is still the best chance at reducing income inequality. Something so necessary shouldn’t be a game to play with bank accounts.

What becomes clear is that the rapidly rising tuition rates is making students, and smaller private schools poorer, and is an opening for large, dominant schools to pad their pockets. When institutions of higher education think only about money, it is the students who suffer, especially those who need it the most.  It is time for things to change.

The good news, is that you can positively impact education for students all around the world, through our Give Together program.  Be proactive about education, and donate today.

Learn more about Give Together and sign up here. You can also keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Give Together is live! And our opening feature issue is Education1005044_10151427376962396_1217417665_n

We have three projects that significantly help both teachers and students internationally move towards a brighter future. Give Together today, choosing your favorite project and pooling your contributions with others who share your same interests.

Here is an introduction to our featured projects:

Empower Burmese Women to Become Effective Teachers

Educational Empowerment supports education in SE Asia, especially in Myanmar. A third of children in the country are unable to access education at all, and 70% of those who do never move beyond primary school. Educational Empowerment has made it their goal to fix this deficit by providing training and educational materials to teachers (90% of whom are women) in poverty stricken communities in Myanmar.

This project not only enhances the education of young children, providing them greater opportunities in the future, but it also empowers the women who teach, allowing them to be more effective in the classroom, and prepare them better for their careers. Both teachers and children face poverty and unequal opportunity. The $250 fundraising goal for Educational Empowerment will purchase the necessary materials to contribute to the essential development of primary school children, and allow their teachers to become confident  role models.

Providing Play-Powered Lanterns for Rural Students in Ghana

Empower Playgrounds, Inc. is an innovative company that installs playground equipment for schools in Ghana, which charge special lanterns that students can take home with them after school to study. In most villages in Ghana, there isn’t a reliable source of power. The village of Ahiatroga, is no different. This makes it difficult for students to continue their education outside of the classroom, which is essential for increasing the quality of their education.

The $500 fundraising goal will install a merry-go-round for Ahiatroga’s school, charging portable LED lanterns for students to take home and study with. Empower Playgrounds, Inc. has already installed 40 of these innovative merry-go-rounds, benefitting almost 10,000 students in Ghana. Donate today, and add the students of Ahiatroga to this growing number.

Fund the Education of Underserved Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) is an organization in King County, Washington, that is working on improving the STEM education for communities of color, better equipping underserved students to enter college, and helping them pursue careers in fields of science and technology. Their summer program provides camps focused on a number of topics, such as robotics, aviation and design. The students attend a field trip, and present their work at the end of the session.

The fundraising goal of 2 scholarships at $350 will allow some of the highest need students from White Center Washington, where as many as 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, to have an in-depth, and hands on experience with a STEM field of their interest. The summer program will supplement their education, preparing them for college and science and tech based career.

Donate today, and use Give Together to pick one of these organizations and improve education worldwide!

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

One of the big questions around philanthropy, is how much money really makes a difference? Most of us are aware of the kinds of gifts that are thousands if not millions of dollars. If you can only spare $15 or $50, how much will your gift really accomplish?

While this is certainly a struggle for the potential donor, it is also a concern for those who are trying to fundraise. How do you convince donors that their gift is meaningful, and create a relationship between them and a cause? Georgette Lemuth, president of the National Catholic Development Conference has answered some of these questions explaining that, it is not the amount of a gift that makes an impact, but it’s potential for transformation.

In a discussion with The NonProfit Times Ms. Lemuth discussed what allows both the donor and the recipient to benefit, or be transformed from a gift.

  • The donor responds to the “case statement” of need from the community, and the organization’s ability to meet that need effectively and efficiently;
  • The donor is compelled by a story that illustrates the community’s need and the organization’s effective and efficient response;
  • The donor makes a commitment to become part of that response, recognizing that their gift from their excess financial capacity has the power to further our organization’s mission in a meaningful way. By the way, the donor gets to decide what is “excess financial capacity,” not fundraisers.
  • The donor’s excess financial capacity is effectively and efficiently “transformed” into food for the hungry, clothes for the poor, or medical treatment for the sick.
  • The donor is not only thanked for their gift, but also receives reports, as specifically as possible, regarding how the gift has transformed the community.
  • If you think a gift is completed when the check clears, you’re a tax collector, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the receipt is sent, you’re an accountant, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the donor sees what their gift has done, you’re a “transformational” fund­raiser.

From The NonProfit Times

Here at Jolkona, impact is central to our mission in changing philanthropy. By providing low cost donation opportunities, and clear proof of impact, we make it easy for your gifts to be transformational.

Through Esperança, just $16 will provide medical supplies for a surgical team to treat health issues in rural indigenous communities in Bolivia. This improves and saves lives for farmers who are too poor and remote to seek medical attention themselves. In addition, the volunteer surgical teams often provide training for local clinics.

Through MADRE, a donation of just $30 provides training for a woman farmer in East Sudan. This ensures that she has access to basic education, and can support her family in an environment where 40% of children suffer from malnutrition. In addition, responsible farming practices counteract the effects of climate change.

These are each amazingly high impact and transformational donation opportunities, providing a significant service, and you receive proof of impact. To transform the lives of people in need, and your own experience as a philanthropist, donate today!

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

One of the big questions around philanthropy, is how much money really makes a difference? Most of us are aware of the kinds of gifts that are thousands if not millions of dollars. If you can only spare $15 or $50, how much will your gift really accomplish?

While this is certainly a struggle for the potential donor, it is also a concern for those who are trying to fundraise. How do you convince donors that their gift is meaningful, and create a relationship between them and a cause? Georgette Lemuth, president of the National Catholic Development Conference has answered some of these questions explaining that, it is not the amount of a gift that makes an impact, but it’s potential for transformation.

In a discussion with The NonProfit Times Ms. Lemuth discussed what allows both the donor and the recipient to benefit, or be transformed from a gift.

  • The donor responds to the “case statement” of need from the community, and the organization’s ability to meet that need effectively and efficiently;
  • The donor is compelled by a story that illustrates the community’s need and the organization’s effective and efficient response;
  • The donor makes a commitment to become part of that response, recognizing that their gift from their excess financial capacity has the power to further our organization’s mission in a meaningful way. By the way, the donor gets to decide what is “excess financial capacity,” not fundraisers.
  • The donor’s excess financial capacity is effectively and efficiently “transformed” into food for the hungry, clothes for the poor, or medical treatment for the sick.
  • The donor is not only thanked for their gift, but also receives reports, as specifically as possible, regarding how the gift has transformed the community.
  • If you think a gift is completed when the check clears, you’re a tax collector, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the receipt is sent, you’re an accountant, not a fundraiser.
  • If you think the gift is completed when the donor sees what their gift has done, you’re a “transformational” fund­raiser.

From The NonProfit Times

Here at Jolkona, impact is central to our mission in changing philanthropy. By providing low cost donation opportunities, and clear proof of impact, we make it easy for your gifts to be transformational.

Through Esperança, just $16 will provide medical supplies for a surgical team to treat health issues in rural indigenous communities in Bolivia. This improves and saves lives for farmers who are too poor and remote to seek medical attention themselves. In addition, the volunteer surgical teams often provide training for local clinics.

Through MADRE, a donation of just $30 provides training for a woman farmer in East Sudan. This ensures that she has access to basic education, and can support her family in an environment where 40% of children suffer from malnutrition. In addition, responsible farming practices counteract the effects of climate change.

These are each amazingly high impact and transformational donation opportunities, providing a significant service, and you receive proof of impact. To transform the lives of people in need, and your own experience as a philanthropist, donate today!

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

The Pacific Northwest Global Donor’s Conference was held on May 17th, as a forum to promote global philanthropy. As this is a great opportunity to connect with others in the philanthropic community, and learn about the initiatives and innovations of other non-profits, some members of the Jolkona team attended. The goal of the conference was to create an environment in which connections could make a real difference, as expressed by the opening speaker: “We have all the technology and solutions to solve the world’s problems. But, it is leadership and organization that will make it happen.”

Here were the impressions of our team:

The conference promised to unveil a new model with utility for the non-profit community. What was the model, and how did it work?

The model is for the new conference structure. The day started with a rapid fire of 7 minute quick talks, and after lunch, it went into “open space”. A few people with topics in mind would make the topic suggestion, and then people go to join a table. At any point you were free to move around so you could spread the ideas around.

Did you learn about something that you thought was inspiring, intriguing, or worthy of interest?

I picked a workshop on travel for philanthropy. I met a lot of interesting, trip-leading veterans from 11plus, EcoViva, Pangea, and others. I felt like we are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considerate, sustainable trip leading. They have much more advanced approaches on how to prepare the community before a foreign visit and lessons learned (when they went to see someone in a slum community, his landlord raised rent on him assuming he got a lot of money from the white visitors).

Were there any exciting new foundations or organizations at the conference? Who were they, and what do they do?

I really like some of the impact investment groups that I met, and heard from quick talks. Impact investing is about focusing on impact, which is not the same as return on investment. A company with great products makes a good investment because they make a lot of profit. These groups invest in them. But, nonprofit/social for-profits don’t make a lot of money but make positive impact on our population, and these investment companies balance their portfolio by investing in them also.

Did you meet any new potential partners for Jolkona?

Village Volunteer is an exciting partner, and their new projects are great. One project is to make biodegradable sanitary pads for rural communities out of an invasive species that looked like water lily. EcoViva has interesting projects with the indigenous communities in Guatemala, in an area with largest mangroves still remaining in the world. One women’s human rights group talked to me about being a Jolkona partner as well.

What did the speakers talk about that you found most interesting?

Gates Foundation had an interesting way of applying modern financial tools used in established economies and, transferring it for use with the poor. They learned a lot making this transition.

IDEX is a group that stays with their projects for the long haul, even if their mission changes. One of their partners went from micro-finance to human rights, and all of their funders left because it didn’t align with what they support anymore. IDEX stayed. They believed it was the right strategy shift for their partner and was able to continue funding them

Was the experience worth going to, and what could have been improved?

It is clear that the active philanthropist community is small and tight, so it was nice to start to get used to the faces. But, the conference (and all of us) needs to be able to reach out to other groups.

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

An enduring question in the non-profit sector has been the decision of how anonymous a donation should be. A recent article from the Nonprofit Quarterly frames the question as a public vs. private matter. They ask whether charity is an individual and private decision, or one that relies on community involvement. The philanthropy section of the New York Times introduced the topic, asking about whether public giving is about a name on a plaque or building, or if it is an integral part of building donor relationships? Both of these articles, and other sources, choose to frame their arguments in a Judeo-Christian context, emphasizing the belief that humility in giving is almost as important as the act itself.

However, in my opinion, this approach seems dated, and fails to fully take into account or embrace the themes of social connectivity, and the changing public face of philanthropy. We are in the age of social media, where nothing is truly quiet, and the way people are motivated into action has changed. As social media has changed the way we communicate and keep in touch with our acquaintances, it makes sense that philanthropy would follow the same route.

It seems that whether or not you give anonymously, both choices seem motivated by individual needs than by broader good. Asking for privacy is perceived as avoiding the pressure for further donations, and receiving a special plaque or building seems like a quest for immortality. Alternatively, a donation with a well-known name behind it helps bring publicity to the non-profit, and bring in further donations. While these questions are still being discussed by the major sources of non-profit news, it seems as if the debate will soon be made obsolete by our social media culture. People spread awareness about all sorts of issues and causes, and publicity is no longer about an engraved name, or seen as crass self-promotion.

For those of us who aren’t wealthy enough to earn our name on a park bench, or organizations that don’t rely on large donations, quiet, anonymous gifts may be counterproductive. In fact, 15 to 18 percent of donations are referred from Facebook in an average peer-to-peer campaign. Most of the people who “like” a charity on Facebook do so because they want to publicly display their support for the charity to their friends. In addition, over half of social media users who engaged with a non-profit or cause took further action by donating, volunteering, or continuing to spread the word.

Of course, just as selecting a cause or organization is a personal decision, so is the choice to make your donations public or strictly private. Keep in mind however, that small non-profits especially rely on social media to garner donations, publicize campaigns and build a strong following. When you can publicize what you ate for lunch, why not use social media to share a cause you are passionate about?

Whether or not you make your donations public, small organizations like Jolkona can use just a small contribution. Make a difference and donate to a project today.

Read our previous post about Social Media and Philanthropy.

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

 

diversity day 2013logo

We live in a world of ever increasing connectivity, where we have access to as much information as we want, from around the world, at our very fingertips. Cultural diversity is more a part of daily life, both locally, and globally, as more and more people have access to technology and social media, making the world more connected than ever before. However, despite the shrinking space between interactions, having a society that respects cultural diversity is more difficult than one would think. In fact, a full three quarters of conflicts still have some cultural dimension. That is why today, on May 21st, we recognize the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

On an international policy scale, the UN recognizes that cultural diversity is vitally important to development, as well as to peace. Irena Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO says, “Experience shows that efficient development models are those that actually integrate local cultural specificities, thus eliciting the involvement of the communities concerned.” In addition, keeping culture central to developing educational, environmental, communication, and other policies, means that marginalized groups are better represented. Diversity Day focuses on encouraging cultural and religious dialogue and plurality locally, as well as internationally, while creating a better balance between the exchange of cultural goods, and preserving the most vulnerable cultures.

Celebrating World Diversity day and experiencing cultural diversity doesn’t only have to be the project of international policy, it can just as easily be done at home. Do one of the things on the list provided by the Do One Thing Campaign for Diversity and Inclusion, from the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations:

  1. Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  2. Invite someone in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
  3. Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
  4. Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
  5. Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi.)
  6. Visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
  7. Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
  8. Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures like Hanukkah, Ramadan or about the amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or the Qingming festival in China.
  9. Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures
  10. Explore music of a different culture

Information from UNAOC. Find out more about the Do One Thing Campaign here.

In honor of UN World Diversity Day, you can also donate to a project here at Jolkona, which will not only contribute to celebrating cultural diversity and identity, but also to aiding and empowering people in developing countries, which will soon be the epicenter of the development questions put forward by UNESCO. Through Potters for Peace, donate just $25, to train a Nicaraguan artist in making traditional pottery, for up to a year . This not only provides a steady source of income for those living in extreme poverty, but also preserves cultural heritage. Similarly, a donation of only $15, through Awamaki, supports a woman weaver in remote indigenous communities in Peru . The donation provides workshops and business training so the women can be self-sufficient, and giving them access to an international market for their traditional Peruvian weavings.

Though globally recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity may seem like an incredibly massive task, you can do your part with just a small act of seeking out and experiencing a new culture, whether it is exploring a new cuisine, or donating to help someone turn their culture into a source of well being, and have a stronger global presence. Today, on UN World Diversity Day, make a difference, be inclusive, and be part of the dialogue.

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

As we have discussed before, the nonprofit sector has been facing difficult financial challenges ranging from budget cuts, to the loss of market shares in the industry. To some researchers, it is becoming clear that there is a divide between the public perception, and the realities of how nonprofits operate. The John Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies has begun to explore these concepts by initiating the Listening Post Project’s Non-Profit Renewal Conversation.  More specifically, they hope to begin a conversation about the special values and unique responsibilities of non-profits, how to communicate those ideas to stakeholders and the broader public, and to answer one question: why do non-profits matter?

Using a network of over one thousand non-profits that responded to regular surveys, or “soundings,” to monitor trends and developments in the sector, the Listening Post Project helped narrow down a set of values that various non-profits thought were most important.  They have started to find that the issue does not lie with disorganization of the non-profit sector, as the surveyed groups had a great deal of consensus about the way the values and qualities that are core to their work.  The issue was much more about the ability of non-profits to communicate those values to the public. The Center at John Hopkins will use this information to renew the value of non-profit commitment.

Here is an example of some of the results of the conversation:

 Anyone is welcome to contribute to this project, in order to get as much perspective as possible.  If you would like to join in with the Non-Profit Renewal Conversation, use Twitter (#nonprofitvalues), or Facebook, to share your thoughts.

Here at Jolkona, we hope to make a difference in reinvigorating the non-profit sector, through our dedication to the idea that anyone can make a difference, with just a small donation, and that knowing the impact is essential to each donation.  As the whole industry works to define why they matter, perhaps we can renew a sense of value by changing the culture of giving.

Change the culture of giving today.

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

Chances are, if you are reading these words, social media brought you to our blog. It is a trend that has transformed the way that philanthropies operate, and reach out to donors, connecting almost everyone with the opportunities and means to be involved in charitable giving. Here at Jolkona, we use these strategies to inform potential and current donors about our low cost chances to make a difference.

With the proliferation of the non-profit sector in social media, there have been a number of studies of exactly what have been the most effective strategies. For instance, studies like the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmark Study, or those from the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) find who and what are more successful on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Intuitively, posts with pictures included are more likely to spread, and promote dialogues and actions. Less intuitively, smaller organizations have the highest average Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and their posts go more viral. Check out this infographic for more in formation about just how much social media benefits non-profit organizations.

We are seeing a new freedom in the way the nonprofit sector operates. Organizations can find donors and inform people about their causes more easily than ever, no matter how big they are. It could mark a transition away from the reliance on major donors, and influential people, and put philanthropy more firmly in the hands of anyone who wants to contribute.

The biggest online charitable giving event that Jokona will be participating in is the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event, on Wednesday May 15th. Donations made on the Seattle Foundation’s website will be matched from a “stretch pool,” the size of which is related to how much is donated throughout the day.

This is a huge event, since it allows local Seattle area non-profits to all benefit from matched donations, which can be stretched up to $25,000 per donation per organizations. Last year’s GiveBIG generated $7.43 million in online contributions, demonstrating just how much social media and online charitable giving can benefit non-profits. GiveBIG 2012 more than double the amount given in the previous year, and we can do even better this year! Keep an eye out for Jolkona, and participate in GiveBIG 2013.

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

April 22nd is Earth Day, a day to appreciate our planet, and become a little more environmentally friendly. It was established in 1970, to celebrate the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air act among others. For me, it is an event that I remember fondly as a child, as it always had special emphasis. In elementary school, my teachers always impressed the importance of the environment, taking Earth Day to teach us about cleaning up litter, or ways that we could reduce waste in our day-to-day lives. I even remember a reusable shopping bag my parents had – a canvas affair with a picture of the earth, and neon pink text saying ‘EARTH DAY,’ urging us to reduce, reuse and recycle.

However, this was just a few years away from the sudden realizations of climate change – how serious an issue it was, and how little time we had to rectify our mistakes. While Earth Day will still be a time when many will connect with others in their community to pick up trash, plant trees, and celebrate the planet, it should also be used as a time to understand the true impacts of deforestation, the loss of arable land and climate change. In the same way that my interactions as a child with Earth Day had an important personal impact on me, climate change has a significant impact on individuals worldwide, human or otherwise.

Earth Day 2013 is about the Face of Climate Change, a campaign, which means to show that climate change isn’t a matter of government policy, or of glaciers melting in far away places. It is an issue that impacts farmers and fishermen, who deal with droughts and declining fish populations, and the people displaced due to the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes and other natural disasters. It also impacts animals suffering from habitat loss whether it is from human activity, or rising temperatures. The Face of Climate Change project accumulates photographs of people, animals, and environments that have experienced the negative effects of the changing planet. It also documents the efforts of individuals, like you, or my elementary school teachers, who work to fight climate change, and improve the planet for all beings.

 

One organization and Jolkona partner making a difference for the environment is Trees for the Future. They approach environmental sustainability, responsible farming practices, forest recovery, and providing opportunities for farmers all over the world in one fell swoop, by planting trees and training communities in agroforestry. A donation of $5 provides the fund to plant 50 trees, an astounding amount. And, Trees for the Future has a presence in a number of countries from Burundi to Brazil, and from Ethiopia to Cameroon.

Working with Trees for the Future provides an incredible amount of impact, especially for Earth Day 2013. Planting trees and teaching sustainable agroforestry to communities directly helps some of the people most affected by Climate Change. In addition, the sheer number of trees planted from each donation works to restore canopies, and scrub excess carbon dioxide from the environment. Not only can you reduce your own carbon footprint, you can help communities affected by deforestation, soil loss, and the loss of livelihood. On this planet, everyone is a Face of Climate Change, and we can all do our part. In honor of Earth Day 2013, donate today, and spread trees all over the world.

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

The debates over the 2014 Federal Budget have been at the center of domestic politics lately, especially with the sequestration of last month. The biggest question, of course, is what are politicians willing to cut, and the itemized charitable giving deduction is on the table to be reduced. The non-profit sector has responded with a coalition of some of the most prominent charities in the U.S. to call for the current rate to be maintained, and argue that charitable giving should not be held in the company of mortgage deductions as a potential tax loophole. Some in the non-profit community, such as Rick Cohen of the NonProft Quarterly argue that other budget cuts – those that impact essential services that alleviate poverty should be more central than the charitable giving deduction.

Reducing the charitable giving deduction would largely effect those in the highest tax brackets, those who make over $200,000 a year, and itemize their deductions. Most donors, at least those that make smaller donations, are unlikely to be effected. This is good news for Jolkona and our donors, as our partners are mostly international, and rely on micro-donations. The non-profits that will be most effected are those that not only rely on large donations from wealthy donors, but also those that provide domestic services, especially the ones that focus on poverty.

Cohen argues that additional budget cuts from agencies that provide services for people in need are perhaps are more concerning than the charitable deduction issue, at least by themselves. The budget cuts would mean that non-profits that provide similar services as the reduced agencies would have to shoulder significantly more of the demand, which has increased significantly in the last decade. While he has a good point that the charitable deduction argument has pushed attention away from the issues surrounding budget cuts, the coalition of non-profits states that the problems are interconnected. If the itemized charitable giving deduction is reduced, then it could be less of an incentive for large donors to give. The non-profit sector could see the loss of $9 billion in donations, meaning that non-profits, which are already shouldering an increased burden from the budget cuts, would be additionally impacted.

If the reduction to the itemized charitable giving deduction passes with the 2014 budget, the non-profit sector may have to reconceive how they get their donations, and the kinds of donors they reach out to. There is some fear in the non-profit community that without the actions of major donors, fewer people at all income levels would give. With a giving culture that emphasizes the small contributions of many, as opposed to the large contributions of a few wealthy donors, the impacts of these budget cuts maybe wouldn’t sound so dire. Here at Jolkona, we have already made an international impact with that philosophy, believing that $15 can easily change someone’s life.

However, changing an entire culture of charitable giving takes time, and there are people in need much sooner. With the potential of budget cuts, some non-profits may need all the help they can get. You can make a difference today, and help an under-empowered person here in the US. With a donation of as little as $25 through the Jubilee Women’s center, you can support a homeless woman, and help her find employment and independence. Or, through the Technology Access Foundation of Seattle, you can donate as little as $30 to support the technology education of an underserved youth, preparing them for a career in science, math or engineering.

It is difficult to predict how extreme the effects will be if reductions on charitable giving deductions comes to pass. However, you don’t have to wait until a crisis to make a difference. Even those that aren’t wealthy, and can’t make massive donations can have a truly meaningful impact.

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

April 5th marked the 1000 day mark until December 31, 2015, the target date for the UN Millennium Development Goals, and according to reports, they are having a decidedly noticeable impact. These eight goals, approved by the U.N and almost two dozen partner organizations, intend to help millions of people facing extreme poverty, poor sanitation and inequality, and are the most widely accepted way that non-profits, including Jolkona, meaningfully measure their impact. John Podesta, (currently on a U.N Panel for post 2015 development) writing for Foreign Policy Magazine, discusses the immense progress that has been made in advancing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since their inception at the beginning of the new century, but also describes the huge amount of progress that still needs to be made.

What are the MDGs?

The MDGs address the needs of the world’s poor with a broad set of goals that focus on impacts.

  • Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development.

These goals provide context for the effects from the Jolkona community and our partners, and we can see the impacts growing every day.

How successful have they been?

However, these impacts are not only limited to micro-donations. According to Podesta, the MDGs have been undeniably successful on an international level. In addition, they are considered the most successful global push to fight poverty.

  • Extreme poverty has been reduced by half in 20 years.
  • Millions of girls have the opportunity to go to school
  • Child mortality has been significantly reduced
  • Major global efforts to fight diseases like HIV, TB, and Malaria.*

*U.N. Millenium Development Goals factsheet

Mr. Podesta discusses, however, that there are still important areas where success, though in progress, is still a distant prospect, such as places where maternal and child mortality are significantly higher than other places in the world. Child mortality has been halved globally, but is currently more concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, with 82% of deaths. Similarly, maternal mortality has also been nearly halved, but is still 15% higher in developing nations. While the millions more girls have access to education, women still face significant discrimination.

As the target date for the MDGs draws closer, the lessons about ending global poverty in a rapidly changing world are as important as the current success in understanding how we can continue to change the world beyond 2015. According to Mr. Podesta, the “changing distribution of global poverty…means that development is moving away from traditional relationships between ‘donor’ and ‘recipient’ countries.” Perhaps the biggest lesson of the MDGs is that the relationship between goals like social equality and inclusion, sustainability, and economic growth is as important as each goal individually. In the same way, the relations between government agencies, the private sector, NGOs and philanthropies for addressing global issues are integral for moving forward.

What can you do?

The MDGs have been so successful through innovation, and that is what will continue the trend of making an impact on global issues. On a smaller scale, Jolkona works to transform philanthropy and the giving experience in conjunction with the Millennium Development Goals. Our community has made a significant impact, and will continue to make an impact until December 31st 2015. As Podesta discusses, it is important to look even farther ahead, and maintain momentum for the next 1000 days and beyond.  You can do your part by donating to a cause and making an impact on the Millenium Development Goals yourself.

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

Last month, Jolkona held its third annual Give2Girls Campaign, in honor of International Women’s Day, and Women’s History month. We partnered with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF), with the goal of empowering, educating, and improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. Throughout March, SIF matched each donation to one of the 30+ projects that impacted women, up to $250 per donation. This was amazingly successful, and the campaign was fully funded, making over $5000 in just around three weeks!

The Give2Girls campaign had a truly global impact, affecting the lives of women all over the world. From $100 in Haiti, to $600 here in the U.S, to over $1600 in Nepal, each dollar helped to improve health and sanitation, and education. Here are some of the impacts that your generosity accomplished:

  • 1 emergency blood transfusion provided in Palestine
  • 2 technology classes provided in United States
  • 9 girls received education support in Nepal
  • 4 weeks of food provided in Afghanistan
  • 4 women saved from honor killing in Iraq
  • 16 months of oral contraceptives provided in Nepal
  • 10 health kits provided in Somalia
  • 30 books provided in Myanmar
  • 40 people sponsored to a workshop in Kenya
  • 7 women received education in Afghanistan
  • 2 pre-natal examinations provided in Nepal
  • 2 hygiene kits provided in Haiti
  • 2 life-skill classes sponsored in United States
  • 2 “safe birth” kits provided in Palestine
  • 2 stoves provided in Costa Rica
  • 16 girls received school supplies in Liberia
  • 2 weeks of stipend provided in United States
  • 12 girls rescued from servitude in Nepal
  • 2 jobs created in India
  • 2 postpartum classes provided in Japan
  • 2 children received dental care in Bolivia
  • 2 business literacy classes provided in Ghana
  • 6 school girls received uniforms in Liberia
  • 100 students received learning materials in Myanmar
  • 4 women received bio-intensive farming training in Kenya
  • 1 emergency medical kit provided in Palestine
  • 2 uniforms provided in Nepal

We also featured interesting projects and organizations that made supporting and empowering women the center of their work.

  • We featured MADRE, an organization that addresses the immediate needs of women in crisis. In conjunction with Give2Girls, 2 safe birth kits, and 1 emergency medical kit were provided in Palestine, and 4 women in Iraq were saved from honor killing.
  • We also featured the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s project of funding higher education for women in Nepal. Last month, 9 Nepali girls received educational support.
  • In addition, we talked about iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program, which brings women grassroots leaders to Seattle for leadership training. 2 weeks of stipend were provided through Give2Girls.

Even though March is over, you can still take the opportunity to donate to a project that supports women. Small donations can have a huge impact in the lives of women and on their communities, as they tend to reinvest 90% of the funding they receive. Through Lumana, you can fund a woman entrepreneur in Ghana with working capital, with a donation of $120 , or you can donate $50 dollars to provide a woman in Nicaragua with a bag of seeds, so she can feed her family . It is never too late to empower woman, as many face adversity every day.

The 3rd Annual Give2Girls Campaign was quickly and successfully funded through your support, enthusiasm, and generosity. With your help, Give2Girls 2014 can be just as successful. Thank You!

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

Sunday, April 7th is World Health Day, celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the World Health Organization in 1948. It is a day to bring attention to the significant global health issues that impact people all over the world, and a day to donate to a project through Jolkona, that will improve the health of individuals, and of a community.

This year’s theme of World Health Day is cardiovascular disease (CVD), and high blood pressure.  CVD (including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure) is the leading causes of death and disability world wide, representing 30% of global deaths (17.3 million people). In fact, as cause of death, it is far more common in developed countries than it is in undeveloped countries. So this year, in honor of World Health Day, we are asking you to think locally by taking action to reduce your own risk for CVD, whilst also acting globally by working to alleviate health concerns that under-empowered people face, such as malnutrition and poor sanitation.

You can be sure to lower your risk of CVD and other related non-communicable diseases by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are some key ways to protect heart health.

  • Avoid excessive tobacco use, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.
  • 30 minutes of physical activity every day of the week.
  • Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as limiting the amount of salt to less than a teaspoon a day.

Find out more about CVD at the WHO

While you take steps to improve your health, remember that CVD is a global epidemic, and disproportionately affects the developing world.

  • 80% of people who die from non-communicable diseases live in low or middle-income countries.
  • Low birth weight, folate deficiency, infections and poor nutrition are risk factors for non-communicable diseases that significantly impact people in developing countries.
  • People in developing countries are usually unable to access the resources needed to effectively diagnose and treat their disease.
  • The lifestyle changes associates with industrialization and urbanization, such as a sedentary lifestyle, and increased alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of CVD in developing countries.
  • Premature deaths due to CVD reduce the GDP of low and middle-income countries by as much as 6.8%, resulting in a heavy burden on rapid economic development*

*Statistics taken from WHO’s CVD Factsheet

While maintaining a healthy heart is certainly important, you can also impact global health by donating to a project that benefits under-empowered communities who face pressing health crises due to malnutrition or disease.

  • Donate $100 through the Mali Health Organizing Project to provide a year of high-impact health care for 10 people living in slum neighborhoods in Mali. Your donation enrolls families in a comprehensive healthcare program through a local clinic. The program provides home visits to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases quickly and effectively, educating communities about healthcare, and reducing child mortality.
  • Donate $40 through Friends of Orphans, to provide a month’s worth of fresh seasonal produce for an orphan in Mexico. The children receive a balanced diet, which aids in physical development, and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Donate $260 through the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society to build a hygienic and environmentally friendly toilet in the poorest parts of rural India. This allows people, especially women, to perform bodily functions in safety and privacy, while reducing contact with waste, which causes 80% of preventable disease in rural communities.

Spend April 7th making the world a little bit healthier. Make changes to your lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular disease, and lengthen your life, and reach out to a community that faces a pressing health crisis. Think locally and act globally on World Health Day.

Spread awareness about global health via social media: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and re-pin our pins on Pinterest.

 

Last week, as part of our Give2Girls campaign and Women’s History Month, Jolkona attended Women Hold Up Half The Sky, a SHE Talks Soiree from ChickChat. The focus of the event was to bring awareness to issues facing women and girls all over the world, featuring non-profits that work with girls in India, Ethiopia, Nepal and Haiti.

ChickChat is a marketing research company that works on increasing the market power of women as consumers. As women make the vast majority of purchasing decisions in the US, ChickChat uses focus groups of women to give real feedback to major companies, as to what their biggest consumer demographic really wants. With their SHE Talks Soiree, Women Hold Up Half The Sky, they bring economically empowered women in contact with non-profits and philanthropy projects, like Jolkona, that work to empower women in developing countries across the world.

As part of their market research, where ChickChat connects female consumers with producers, they also work to connect their members with charities, and donation opportunities. That is the central reason behind Women Hold Up Half The Sky, which promotes local non-profits founded by women seeking to help women. While Jolkona is promoting Give2Girls, other great non-profits were featured as well.

  • “1 in 10 children in Haiti lives in an orphanage”. Haiti Baby: Haiti Babi makes hip baby products that empower and employ Haitian moms to provide and care for their families.
  • “75%+ of India lives on half a $1 a day or less!” Upaya Social Ventures: is building the businesses that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for families living in extreme poverty in India. Upaya is a partner of Jolkona, with great opportunities to donate.
  • Maiti Nepal, whose mission is to prevent, rescue and rehabilitate Nepalese women and girls from sex trafficking. It’s estimated that 5,000+ Nepali girls are sex trafficked each year; with another 20,000+ currently working in brothels in India.
  • Crooked Trails is a Seattle-based non-profit that leads small group trips to developing countries

The event was a fantastic opportunity for Jolkona to connect with new people, promote our partners, and recruit new volunteers. ChickChat’s Half the Sky Soiree was an evening of learning, inspiration and recognizing the unlimited potential of the ‘power of one’. All of the presenters made us feel proud to be a woman! It was truly inspirational!

Be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

 

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