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.

Gabriel St. John

It’s been a while since the last Featured Volunteer Post, but that doesn’t mean that our volunteers aren’t superstars! I would introduce you to Gabriel St. John, but if you’re reading this blog, you know him already. Gabriel is our Online Content Manager, in charge of keeping the Jolkona blog fresh, informative and engaging. He first got involved with Jolkona as the Editing and Writing Intern in the fall of 2011, working with Laura Kimball on the blog. Since then, he became the lead on the blog team, establishing his personable and understandable style in a series of increasingly successful posts.

I met Gabriel by working with him as the 2012 summer Editing and Writing Intern. In addition to being a quick-witted, likeable individual, he effortlessly orchestrated our blog schedule for the entire summer, and taught me so much about effective communication. Gabriel has a great passion for creative writing, and uses these skills to tell the more personal stories from Jolkona. Yes, we can see the projects, the statistics, the need. But without Gabriel’s work on bringing the stories behind many of our issues to light, it isn’t necessarily easy to see why we do it.

My experiences with Gabriel are echoed by the rest of Jolkona:

Gabriel is such a critical part of the Jolkona team. He’s an amazing writer and helps tell the Jolkona story and that of all the partners we work with through our blog. He has done an amazing job curating, editing, and writing content for our blog ever since he’s led the team. What I especially like about Gabriel is how he makes the social issues we talk about personal, bringing in stories from his own childhood or experiences to make it real. I really love reading our blog posts and learning more about the issues I didn’t know as much about or simply getting even more inspired to do something about them. Thanks Gabriel for bringing your dedication, passion, and fantastic writing skills to the Jolkona team! -Nadia Khawaja

Working with Gabriel is always incredible; he has a unique ability for developing (and editing) compelling stories that resonate with Jolkona donors and readers and he is also aware of how to work within the limited resources of a nonprofit. Gabriel is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for his online content management skills but excitement about the organization and how he’s always willing to jump in and help out whenever needed. He brings a plethora of information and writing experience to his volunteer work at Jolkona and we are lucky to have him as part of our team. –Daljit Singh

Storytelling is critical to Jolkona. Whether it is telling the impact of our partners or the work of our volunteers, Gabriel has helped us to tell our stories and connect with our communities. He and I don’t agree on football, but, I respect all that he has done to support Jolkona over the past year! The way he really took ownership over the blog and works with interns really embodies the sort of volunteers Jolkona and any non-profit strives to have on their team. –Adnan Mahmud

Gabriel At S4SC

Gabriel’s ability to seamlessly spin together the tales of Jolkona, the stories that make our work real, is invaluable. The fact that he can find time for us in addition to working his day job shows his dedication and resourcefulness. Jolkona is incredibly fortunate to have each and every one of our volunteers, and Gabriel is a stellar member of that group. Thank you, Gabriel, for being a fantastic volunteer, and for sharing Jolkona’s story around the world.

Follow Gabriel on Twitter! Has his volunteering story inspired you? Do you want to join us in changing the world? Find out more information by emailing us a We’ve got a Twitter too! You can find us on Facebook and Pinterest as well.

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.



As we’re currently wrapping up Jolkona’s 2012 strategy plan, we’d like to recognize our Director of Strategy, Seema Bhende, as this month’s featured volunteer. Seema has been with us since 2009, which makes her one of our most senior volunteers. Truly she has been a tremendous asset to Jolkona. By day, Seema is a Senior Director of Social Innovation at Waggener Edstrom where she consults with both nonprofit and Corporate Social Responsibility clients.

Over the last 2 ½ years, Seema has helped define our strategy as a nonprofit. She cultivated our invaluable partnership with Waggener Edstrom, which resulted in two matching campaigns and a pro bono ideation session. She has increased our visibility through a feature in Giving 2.0 and other news media, and has also hosted and facilitated several quarterly weekend strategy sessions with key volunteers to brainstorm ideas and direction for Jolkona. In addition, she helped mastermind our current volunteer structure, which has enabled us to accomplish so much with such limited resources.

What I deeply respect and admire about Seema is her ability to keep us focused and to think strategically in finding solutions to problems. Crucially, she has helped Jolkona steer a course of accountability to its own goals over the last two years. On a personal note, she has also just been a great support for me – and other staff and volunteers involved with Jolkona, I’m certain. Here’s what two other Jolkona volunteers had to say about working with Seema:

“Seema is a true leader and incredibly loyal. You can always count on her to take charge of an important project and volunteer to assist where she is most valuable. Along with being a stalwart team player, Seema is incredibly knowledgable about business, marketing, and NPOs. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her and working alongside such a wonderful person.” Aaron Alhadeff.

“Seema is one of the first volunteers and the longest serving amongst the currently active volunteers. She has played an enormous role in the strategic growth of Jolkona over the past 2 years, and her support has been critical to both Nadia and I. She has been a invaluable asset for Jolkona.” Adnan Mahmud.

Seema is truly passionate about Jolkona’s mission and vision of inspiring more giving to the nonprofit sector through our platform, and we’re honored and privileged to have her support as an integral part of the team. Thank you, Seema, for all that you’ve done and continue to do for Jolkona! We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

I first met Melinda through one of our other volunteers back in 2009 when Jolkona was still being run out of my kitchen. Melinda loved what Jolkona stood for and immediately started off volunteering on a few projects, and then quickly jumped into joining the leadership team as the Director of Events. During her time in that role, she was in charge of overseeing a brilliantly successful Microsoft Giving Campaign, played a key part in the structure and direction of Jolkona as an early decision maker on our leadership team, and helped coordinate some of our partnered events that year. She then joined the communications team as our Marketing Communications Content Manager where she employed her laser sharp editing skills to help with content creation and marketing. This year she has mainly been working on a project to help our website tell the stories of our partners better, and we are excited to start intrdoucing updates in the next few months that she herself spearheaded. Melinda recently relocated to DC so we’re sad we don’t get to have her physical presence around as much; however, she is still a strong part of the Jolkona team and community and continues to volunteer remotely on several marketing and content projects for us.

Melinda also played a major role in some of our partnerships with Waggener Edstrom, including our pro bono ideation session and two matching campaigns. What I personally love about Melinda is her passion for making a difference, her organization skills, and her irresistibly charming and light-hearted personality.

Here’s what a few of our volunteers had to say about their time working with her:

“Melinda is a tremendous asset to the Jolkona team. She stepped up and took the role of Director of Events in 2010 and provided invaluable direction to the team. She always encourages new ideas. She is very meticulous and organized. It is a delightful to work with Melinda on any project – she just knows how to get the job done perfectly and on time. To sum it up, if I had to make a list of people I would like to work with on a project, Melinda would definitely be on that list!” – Pavan

“Melinda is one of the most dedicated and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. She pours her heart and soul into every project for Jolkona and loves to make a difference for her partners and the organization.”
– Aaron Alhadeff

“Working with Melinda is always incredible – she has an extraordinary knack for developing compelling stories that resonate with our donors and audiences and also is aware of how to work within the limited resources of a start-up NGO. She brings a wealth of information and experience to her volunteer work at Jolkona and we are lucky to have her as part of our team.” – Seema

Thank you Melinda for your passion, leadership, and contribution to Jolkona over the last few years.  Jolkona couldn’t be where we are today without you and we are honored to have your continued support and dedication to our cause. We hope you have gotten just as much out of volunteering with as you’ve given in.

Have you volunteered for a non-profit? Do you think you get more or less out of what you put in?

This month, as we say goodbye to many of our awesome summer interns, we’d like to recognize our star volunteer that made it all happen. Meet Dania Primley (@DPrimley), officially our Director of Human Resources, but like many of our amazing volunteers, she goes above and beyond just that.

Dania at Canlis, Rishi Sanyal Photography

Dania at Canlis (Rishi Sanyal Photography)

Dania has been volunteering with Jolkona since April 2011 and immediately came in and took ownership of our HR needs and volunteer/internship recruiting. She created templates, procedures and policies and managed to recruit an awesome team of rock star interns.

Dania’s awesome recruiting efforts led to Jolkona accomplishing many things this summer, such as developing our Facebook Welcome Page, conducing marketing PR segment research, finally setting up QuickBooks, developing a plan for our soon-to-launch brand ambassador program, developing a partner welcome packet, and so much more!

Aside from helping with our HR needs, Dania has also taken it upon herself to be our morale officer, helping to make our all-hands meetings informative, fun and social. Last, in her spare time (we’re not sure how she finds any in between all of her friends’ weddings) she volunteers on the partner management sub-committee, which is helping to follow up with our partners on reporting feedback on donations.

Volunteers like Dania are what keep Jolkona going strong and allow us to achieve our mission of engaging the next generation of philanthropists.

Here’s what Pavan Kumar Potaraju, Events Team/Microsoft Giving Campaign volunteer had to say about Dania:

When I met Dania for the first time at one of our Jolkona meetings, I was amazed at her positive energy and passion for our organization. Her contribution has been tremendous, from recruiting new volunteers (and interns) to finding great venues for our meetings and events. Dania is Ms. Dependable, who does her work with so much conviction and fun that she often inspires people around her. Working with her, simply put, is super fun!

And from Laura Kimball, Jolkona’s Director of Communications & Social Media:

Dania is a spitfire of energy. She came to Jolkona to help with the events team but didn’t mind at all when Nadia and I asked her to help build our internship program. As a start-up nonprofit, we rely heavily on the professional skills that our volunteers bring to the table, and Dania is a prime example of how a volunteer arrived with one set of skills but jumped in where we needed her expertise the most.

One of our spring interns actually complimented us on how organized we were with the orientation and on-boarding process — that statement was 100 percent due to the procedures that Dania set up and trained us to implement.

Dania is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for her HR/volunteer management expertise, but excitement about the organization and how she’s always eager to jump in and help out when needed. I’m honored to work with her.

Dania exudes energy and passion, has a contagious smile, and we are honored and lucky to have her as part of the amazing team of volunteers at Jolkona. Thank you Dania for all of your hard work and contribution to Jolkona so far!

Note from the editor: Looking to be a part of Jolkona’s team? We’re actively recruiting for fall interns and year-round volunteers. Check out our openings here.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of every nonprofit, and Jolkona is no exception. We’ve introduced you to a few key volunteers on our team and I’m excited to introduce another one to you today!

The single largest factor of Jolkona’s success is the team that supports this organization. Aaron Alhadeff is one of the integral members of that team, helping with many of the major projects undertaken by Jolkona. We are lucky to have such a rock star on our team!

– Adnan Mahmud, Co-Founder & Director of Research & Development

Aaron Alhadeff and Jordan Belmonte in Seattle
Jolkona volunteers, Aaron Alhadeff and Jordan Belmonte, in Seattle

Aaron Alhadeff is someone who is a living, breathing example of what it means to be a rock star volunteer. He’s been a part of the Jolkona community for a year, volunteering his time on the Communications & Social Media team, managing projects like our Annual Report, and adding valuable insights when it comes to strategizing marketing campaigns. Aaron also led the marketing outreach for the Microsoft Giving Campaign – one of Jolkona’s most successful fundraising initiates to date. He’s always ready and willing to lead a new project or lend a hand to a team who needs it.

When Aaron’s not volunteering with Jolkona, he works in search marketing for bing at Microsoft.

Aaron has worked with many teams at Jolkona so here’s what some other members of Jolkona’s leadership team have to say about his work –

From Seema Bhende, Director of Strategy:

Aaron has been an amazing addition to the Jolkona team. He brings an unparalleled commitment to strong project management, organizational skills and fun teamwork to all the projects he works on.

Aaron has superb project management skills and has helped Jolkona tremendously on an important marketing and fundraising deliverable, our Annual Report.

From Melinda Mosesler, Marketing Communications Content Manager:

There are some folks you run across in life where you can’t wait to work with them again and again – Aaron is that person. It’s the awesome positive attitude, honest outlook and always striving to find the perfect solution. Oh, did I mention he manage a project like no bodies business? Seriously, his gold standard delivery is apparent both at work and with his dedication to Jolkona. I always enjoy catching up with Aaron at our All Hands or other various meetings that continuous smile and energy is something Jolkona is lucky to have!

I am so grateful to know Aaron as a person and to work with him at Jolkona. Thank you, Aaron, you are a core part of this team and we are so thankful that you share your time to this organization!

In his words, here’s why Aaron volunteers with Jolkona:

Pavan Kumar Potaraju with Jolkona in Africa

Nancy, Jordan, and Pavan in East Africa, December 2010

This month as Jolkona celebrates its one-month anniversary in our new office space, we’d like to recognize a Jolkona volunteer who was instrumental in helping to make this happen. Pavan Kumar Potaraju has been volunteering with Jolkona for the last 2 years and last year he played a key role in planning and organizing the highest-grossing fundraising event for Jolkona that raised almost $20,000 in just one evening. Go Pavan!!!!

Pavan has been a part of the events team and also played a key role in the Microsoft Giving Campaign, where he helped out with everything from hanging up posters to passing out flyers to get the word out about Jolkona. In addition, Pavan was one of 7 volunteers who gave up his winter vacation to accompany us on a volun-toursim trip through East Africa in December. During that trip, we visited some of our partners and learned how we can continue to help them through the Jolkona Giving platform. Now if that wasn’t enough, Pavan also helped Jolkona move furniture into our new office when we needed some manpower :). We just love how Pavan is willing to roll up his sleeves to help Jolkona grow and make an even bigger impact both globally and locally.

We thought this was the perfect time to recognize Pavan for being a rock star Jolkona volunteer that we can always count on because as a die-hard cricket fan, Pavan is also celebrating this month with India’s victory in the World Cup for Cricket! Check out how Pavan celebrated it:

Pavan celebrates India's win in the World Cup for Cricket

The other noteworthy quality about Pavan is that he is super fun. He always makes everyone laugh whether it’s his Bollywood poses or funny jokes, he keeps things fun which is always a good thing when volunteering.

Here’s what Melinda Moseler, Jolkona’s Marketing Communications Content Manager, said about working with Pavan:

Pavan is very passionate about getting word out about Jolkona and going the extra mile when we worked together during the Microsoft Giving Campaign. He is quiet and diligent about getting things done and goes out if his way to devote long hours to making sure some of key fundraising events on campus were attended to, long after others had gone home. I’m always glad to be paired with Pavan on project and know he can be counted on with putting Jolkona’s best foot forward. If you get a chance, check out his blog post* from the team’s Africa trip his photos are top notch and reflect some major personality!

When we asked Pavan why he volunteers with Jolkona, here’s what he had to say:

Thank you, Pavan, for all that you have done for Jolkona and the impact you’ve made in helping to change the world, one drop at a time…

*Pavan’s blog post will be posted this week!

Jolkona’s volunteers are crucial to our success. And each volunteers plays a very specific role in helping us achieve our mission of poverty alleviation through micro-giving. While we could not have come as far as we have without the dedication and passion of each one of our volunteers, this month, I’d like to recognize one specific volunteer who has done so much for Jolkona in just a short time.

Christine Oon started volunteering with Jolkona about a year ago and wanted to get involved in something that would let her utilize her skill of technical writing and content strategy. When Christine started volunteering with Jolkona, we wanted to launch a quarterly newsletter so she stepped up to the plate and volunteered to build it. Since then, Christine has helped write, design, and release 6 of the past 8 issues of our newsletters and special announcements. (Check out the newsletter archives, here). While this may not seem related to poverty alleviation, it truly is. One of Jolkona’s core tasks is to build awareness around our causes and empower people to realize the impact that can be made with small donations.

The newsletter has been instrumental in getting that message out. During the Pakistan Floods last year, Christine wrote and helped design a newsletter that announced our project helping Pakistani flood victims. This newsletter went out to our mailing list of over 2,000 donors and resulted in raising $4,000 in just 2 weeks to help flood victims. This is an example of how Christine’s work has made and continues to make a true impact.

While Christine was one of our locally based volunteers, she recently relocated back to Singapore. We are sad that she is so far away. We will definitely miss her at our team and All-Hands meetings and wish her the best of luck. Though, we are lucky that she will continue to help out and lend her content strategy and wordsmith-genius to our newsletters when she can – making our team truly international. We truly appreciate Christine’s time and dedication to Jolkona and are honored to have her as part of the Jolkona volunteer team.

On a final note, I’d like to thank Christine for generously donating a filing cabinet and computer chair for Jolkona’s new office before her move! YAY our first office furniture donated by a Jolkona volunteer!

Thank you, Christine, for all you’ve done for Jolkona and the impact you’ve made in helping to change the world, one drop at a time…

Photo by Jolkona volunteer, Pavan Potaraju, at Jolkona’s Holiday Party, December 2010.

While observing Ramadan last month, Asim Khan, 36, decided to contribute his zakat – Muslim charitable giving – to Jolkona’s Give Direct projects in Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Welcome to the Jolkona community, Asim, and tell us a little about yourself!


Occupation:  CEO, Event Blossom

Location: North Tustin, CA

Hobbies: Weight training, surfing, basketball

Volunteering: President of NAASER – charitable organization that gives relief to the needy in Bhopal, India; former president of the Islamic Center of Irvine.

Skills: Public speaking, persuasion, competitiveness, impersonating Keanu Reeves…

How did you hear about these Jolkona projects?

My brother went to UCLA with [Jolkona CEO] Nadia, and we have mutual friends. I have always thought it was fantastic that she and Adnan have dedicated so much of their lives to giving back to those that need it.  I try to do what I can in my capacity, and have always admired those that help others. The idea of being able to directly change people’s lives by way of micro-financing really caught my eye. I carefully pick organizations that I choose to contribute to, and am happy to be in a position to help… the little I can. In some parts of the world, even small donations from here can make a big impact.

What’s  your impression of Jolkona?

It is amazing to see how far Jolkona has come in such a short time. The level of professionalism, and the amount they are able to accomplish is a bounty to the many that they affect. I guess I fit one of their core values, they have inspired a young professional like me to become a better philanthropist and provided me with an avenue to do so.

How would you define “philanthropist?”

It’s embarrassing to me to be referred to as a philanthropist… but if I must answer, I’d say “someone that has more than he needs and gives to those that need it more than him.”  But it’s more than transactional. Giving is something more innate, more spiritual. A favorite quote of mine from Rumi that has become my personal mantra is, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

What other causes do you support?

Event Blossom was set up from the get-go to give a percentage of profits back to causes that are in need. In the past year, our charitable donations have ranged from Hurricane Sandy relief, to sponsoring orphans around the globe. One of our favorite projects in the past few years has been setting up a Banana Cultivation Project in Sri Lanka. The profits from this project provide regular income that directly supports a local orphanage which houses, educates, and creates opportunity for orphans.  Here are a few pics of the project breaking ground:

What would you say to encourage others to become philanthropists?

Not everyone is dealt the same hand when it comes to life. You may have earned it, or you may have been born with it, but I’m fairly certain a good amount of has attributed to any successes you have had. By giving back by donating, you are really doing the least you can do.  There isn’t really hard work involved with giving, the hard work is wrestling the money out of your hands.
But money isn’t everything. Happiness is. And there is no greater joy that you can get out of life than helping others.
Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

While it seems every week is volunteer week at Jolkona, we couldn’t let this week go without a BIG shoutout to our AMAZING volunteers since it is National Volunteer Week. At Jolkona, we have over 40 committed volunteers who support our work, helping with anything and everything to support our mission, including things like writing for our blog, running our social media, PR, building mobile apps, conducting surveys, graphic design, event planning and more! In addition, we have an incredible volunteer board and advisory board who help provide guidance and support to Jolkona and who we can’t thank enough.

In case you didn’t know, National Volunteer Week has been around since 1974 and is all about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities—and what better way than by volunteering, right?  This week is about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, in unison, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.

National Volunteer Week is also about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.

We feature volunteers on a monthly basis at Jolkona as well as at the end of the year, not only to recognize them for their efforts and contribution to Jolkona and society, but also to help inspire others to volunteer as well. I truly believe that often times by volunteering the volunteers get more out of it then they’d imagine.  So many friendships have been formed through our volunteers and I think volunteering with anything you feel passionate about adds more purpose and substance to your life.

We started our volunteer program out of necessity because of our limited budget to hire people.  And what we found was that there are so many people who want to volunteer more than just their time, but they really want to offer their skills to make a difference.  So at Jolkona our volunteer program is all skilled-based and lines up with people’s skills and interests.  I hope to continue to see Jolkona work with such passionate volunteers and that volunteerism grows more and more every day.

What sort of volunteer work do you enjoy?  If you volunteer with Jolkona, what do you enjoy the most about it?

Check out some of our past featured volunteer posts for more reasons why you should get involved in volunteering in your community.

Happy National Volunteer Week everyone!  And a special THANK YOU to all the Jolkona volunteers – past and present – that have supported us over the years.  We truly would not be here today without your support!


Here at Jolkona, we like to reflect upon good deeds that are done each and every day. No matter the price or the size of the deed, it contributes as a larger consciousness of positivity in our world. Sometimes the good deed is sprung upon us within seconds, such as lifting someone up who’s tripped on the ground. Other moments are thoughtful and methodically carried out, like those who donate their time and a smiling face to soup kitchens all across the globe. For most of us, giving is more than a good deed; it changes you. It reflects upon you as a change that transforms who you are into who you’ve become. Being a part of the Jolkona family speaks to a larger purpose for each and every one of us. We become united under the community of philanthropy.


Sumaira Arastu

Today we are giving a big thank-you to Sumaira Arastu, long standing Jolkona enthusiast and donor. She generously shared her thoughts about giving and why Jolkona is meaningful for her and her life:


What was your first impression of the Jolkona foundation?

Well, I learned about Jolkona when it was still a seedling in the womb. Nadia, the co-founder, and I had gone to college together and she told me about the idea of creating an organization where students and young professionals can contribute in a meaningful way even in a limited financial capacity. The idea of a small act having a larger impact seemed very appealing to me.

Which Jolkona projects have you donated to that stand out?

I believe that health is a foundation to success, without health our education, wealth, and interests cannot be enjoyed. This is why the projects that focus on helping people gain access to health care or focus on preventative care are most appealing to me.
What do you enjoy about giving to Jolkona projects?
I really like the transparency of Jolkona. It is great to be able to track every single penny. Also, I identify with Jolkona’s mission, so it’s rewarding to be able to be part of something that helps realize my ideals.

If you had to describe Jolkona in 4 words, what would you say?

Vital, Innovative, Effective, and Ambitious

How would you describe philanthropy?

Philanthropy to me is about feeling alive. It allows us to build connections with people through any resource we can share. This makes us feel like we are part of something larger and more meaningful. To live for yourself is utterly lonely and you miss out on a feeling of community. I think that part of evolving as a society and as humans requires us to support one another and share our resources so that all of us can realize our potential. This ultimately benefits everyone, even if it means a small sacrifice in the short term.

What are your hobbies? Do you participate other community projects or events in your spare time?

I do. I enjoy volunteering with youth programs so when I can, I volunteer with a program called “Up and Running Again,” which is a group that works with inner city high school and elementary students to train for a half marathon with the idea that such training will allow them to set goals for themselves in all parts of their lives and know that they can achieve them. I also volunteer for Junior Achievement, a program geared to helping elementary students learn more about the business world, so that they can become inspired to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of their own communities.  Otherwise, my hobbies mostly consist of eating chocolate and drinking coffee :).


Giving is contagious. Share a small token of kindness to start a chain reaction of sharing and growing. Start here.
Tweet your first time donating with @Jolkona on Twitter, or share your story on our Facebook.


Leaving Kenya

International travel always has unexpected twists and turns as our last night in Dago, Kenya proved. As we watched the TV with our host family, the headlines flashed the news of a bomb explosion on a bus that was part of the Kampala Coach line. This was the same bus which we were all supposed to board in just a few short days. This incident sparked off a discussion among us and we were contemplating if we should even make the journey to the Uganda.

On the road to Uganda

After much deliberation, we decided to take a private shuttle instead of the Kampala Coach and continue our journey to Uganda. At the border, we were presented with an unexpected three hour delay, providing an opportunity to collect our thoughts and connect with others. During those three hours, I was engaged in a discussion with a nine year old boy who was selling bananas. In the process of our conversation, the young boy told me that he was working to save money to buy a football. The little boy was a curious young fellow who asked me different questions about what I do and where I was from. Our conversation drifted from politics to sports and to physics. I must admit that these varied subjects of conversation did surprise me. I was amazed the knowledge he had and our little chat was definitely one of my best on the trip.

Arriving at Children of Uganda

On Christmas Eve, we arrived at Kampala, Uganda to spend time with one of the Jolkona partners – Children of Uganda. The kids welcomed us with drums, dance and various other local instruments. This was the best welcome ever!

We were all excited about celebrating Christmas with these kids. We spent most of the day with them doing various activities – drawing, photo frame designing and crafts followed by lunch, cake and, who can forget, some basketball! It was such a pleasure to experience the kids interacting with us all, displaying who they were and expressing themselves in such a creative and innovative way.

The day ended with a grand performance from the kids with various instruments and an amazing dance. Later they tried teaching us some dance moves and how to play some of the musical instruments. This will surely remain as one of the best Christmas I’ve ever experienced and hopefully the same was felt by the many others who were with me.

Deciding to take the risk and proceed with our plan to go to Uganda was probably one of the best decisions the team made. We all got to see the impact Jolkona has made with this project, and spending Christmas with these kids was truly an amazing experience.

How you can help

For as little as $25 you can provide meals for 5 children for a week. Every donation goes a long way in supporting the kids at Children of Uganda.

Pavan Kumar Potaraju spends his days at Microsoft and volunteers with Jolkona on the Events team and with the Microsoft Giving Campaign. In April, he was our featured volunteer, you can read more about Pavan, here. This story is part of a series of blog posts from the Jolkona team’s trip to East Africa in late-December 2010.

Monica Mendoza is the Executive Director of Jolkona. Three years ago Monica introduced herself to Jolkona after seeing a campaign we featured to benefit Bolivia, her native country. Over the past few years she has volunteered with Jolkona and joined us for the very first public Jolkona expedition to West Africa.

Monica brings over 15 years of business and leadership experience in a career that has been focused on technology with roles in IT, Sales, and Marketing. Monica has also dedicated much of her time and skills to various nonprofits in the Seattle area most recently serving on the board of MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest. She even ran a successful personal campaign to raise funds for Haiti earthquake victims in 2010. She has taken every opportunity to travel and this has led to her profound appreciation for the customs and languages of other cultures and the desire to exchange ideas and experiences with other countries

Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of Cohort 2 (Nov’14)!

 Jolkona hosted five young social entrepreneurs from Nov 3-Nov 14, 2014 for our second cohort of Jolkona Catalyst in collaboration with US Embassy in Jakarta. Cohort 2 attended workshops to refine their social entrepreneurship business, met the Seattle Start-up community and learned to pitch to investors.

Candra Cahyani Gani HeadshotCandra Cahyani Gani

Twitter: @CandraGani

Social Venture: Bedah Campus

Bedah Campus promotes higher education to the high school students in remote area through online mentorship. This two year old venture operates in Lampung province and has more than 570 mentees and 150 mentors. Candra and her team organize roadshows in different schools to recruit high school students to join as mentees. Then they recruit university students to volunteer as a mentor and find professionals to be foster parents of the mentees. Bedah Campus is partially funded with the profit of a separate business – a language center, also run by Candra and her team.

In the next five years, Candra wants to reach 33 provinces in Indonesia and scale the language center so that its profit can fully support Bedah Campus.

Watch Candra’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch


Dini Hajarrahmah HeadshotDini Hajarrahmah

Twitter: @DiniDreaming

Social Venture: Wanderlust Indonesia

Wanderlust Indonesia is an ecotourism company that offers tours where travel activities are combined with volunteering services to locals based on their needs. So far, it has hosted tours in Krakatau Mountain, Labuan Bajo, Tanjung Puting, and urban Jakarta where about 100 ‘Wanderers’ got to meet the locals, understand the local values and customs while traveling, and leave behind a positive footprint through volunteering or sponsoring a child’s education.

In Krakatau Mountain, besides snorkeling and hiking, Wanderers get to complete a project like teaching a chapter from Wanderlust’s curriculum for students or teaching English to guides.

In the next two years, Dini plans to expand to 5 other islands/conservations and to villages and slum area with literacy, fair trade, sanitation, and waste management programs.

Watch Dini’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch


Alfi Irfan Headshot

Alfi Irfan

Twitter: @AlfiIrfan


Social Venture: AgriSocio

AgriSocio works to reduce poverty and empower villages by giving farmers and housewives access to technology, capital, and market. AgriSocio formulated a method called Penta movements- entrepreneurs and sociopreneurs come in a profit-sharing mechanism working towards better price for products and stable market; edupreneurs and technopreneurs improve the quality of rural farming workforce; ecopreneurshelp do the farming in an environmentally-responsible manner. It is running this program in Benteng village and marketing its own product called “IndoRempah” which sells a 1000 units every month.

It employs housewives in processing of IndoRempah. Alfi plans to go into 17 more villages, launch two more products, reach 10,000 farmers and employ 500 women in the next two years.

Watch Alfi’s Elevator Pitch


Nancy Margried HeadshotNancy Margried

Twitter: @nancymargried

Social Venture: Piksel Indonesia – Batik Fractal

Piksel Indonesia provides technology and design training and alternative market access for traditional batik artisans in Indonesia through affordable jBatik software and online selling platform – Batik Fractal. Batik Fractal is a fashion product made by jBatik software developed by Nancy and her team that processes mathematical algorithm into unique batik patterns.

They have trained 1000 batik artisans to use their software in rural areas. Now, they are opening a cooperative for unskilled women and teenagers living in slum areas. They provide design, batik making, sewing and craft making training for them.

Nancy’s future plan is to reach 55 million small and medium enterprises in Indonesia with her products and create jBatik curriculum for high school and vocational schools.

Watch Nancy’s Elevator Pitch


M. Alfatih Timur HeadshotM. Alfatih Timur

Twitter: @alfatihtimur


Social Venture: is Indonesia’s pioneer crowdfunding platform for social causes and innovation. Alfatih started it officially in July 2013, and during its first year of operation, it received more than 100 projects of which 66 were featured, and 27 were successfully funded collecting more than 1 billion rupiah ($100,000).

Kitabisa has two types of customers – the ‘Project Idea Owner” (change-maker) who needs resources; and the “Resources Owner” who wants to supply resources to support good deed projects.

For the former, it delivers access to donation, and social media publicity; for the latter, it delivers social project report and rewards such as souvenir, personal letter from the end target of the project, etc. Alfatih’s next goal is to fund more than 75 projects and collect $500,000 in funding.

Watch Alfatih’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch

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