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A self-professed tech geek, I’m routinely amazed at the power I hold in my hands: smartphones, tablets, laptops, the latest new gadget. A shocking statistic from the United Nations made headlines last year: more people now have access to cell phones than to toilets. Increasingly, our world is run by technology and the people who know how to wield it.

That’s why Jolkona’s Give to Girls project to support homeless women by teaching technology and life skills resonates with me. Housing and homelessness — especially in the Seattle area — are pressing issues, as rent and property values rise higher than low-skills workers can afford.  In my experience, there is no single narrative for homeless women and no negative stereotype that holds true. There are many paths to homelessness: foreclosure, domestic abuse, layoffs, medical expenses. However these women got there, their energy and time is now focused on day-to-day survival.

But what if you could help put the power back in the hands of women who are experiencing homelessness?  What if you could take the focus away from short-term survival and give women the ability to build marketable skills, allowing them to look to their futures?

I support women’s projects like this because I believe in empowering women to dream, plan, and achieve. I believe that women with technology can change the world.  Technology is the foundation of many careers and jobs.  It is access to information and resources. It is having a platform to voice one’s opinion and engage with other people. Technology is power.

I invite you to join me in supporting the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of the other partners in Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month.

Genevieve Venable works in communications and community outreach for Seattle University’s Center for Service and Community Engagement.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree.  

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In honor of International Women’s Day, I joined other nonprofit communicators at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Friday to discuss ways we could use social media to promote women’s health initiatives, including PATH’s redesigned female condom, self-administered contraceptive shots (see photo — so tiny!) and low-tech cervical and breast cancer screenings.

This #GatesSocial also got me thinking about more ways to inform and engage donors for Jolkona’s 4th annual Give to Girls campaign, which is crowdfunding for 10 projects that save lives, educate and empower women locally and globally. What would inspire you? We’d love to produce something like the Girl Effect video:

Stay tuned for some new Jolkona media for this year’s #Give2Girls. In the meantime, check out the traditional press release about the campaign.

SEATTLE – Launched on International Women’s Day (March 8) and continuing through Women’s History Month, Jolkona’s 4thannual Give to Girls campaign is crowdfunding for 10 innovative projects to lift up women and girls in the United States and strategic regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

“We inspire the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today,” says Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona co-founder and CEO. “Empowering women is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty around the world. Invest in a healthy and educated girl today, and she will be able to reinvest in her family, her community, and our world tomorrow.”

From now through March 31, donors can choose among nine high-impact projects related to education, maternal health and empowerment. Starting at the $5 level, the options range from supporting job training for homeless women in Seattle topromoting female literacy in Afghanistan to funding counseling services for rape survivors in Haiti.

The bonus project will be selected by members of Jolkona’s monthly Give Together program: starting at the $10 level, participants join a private Facebook group to review proposals from nonprofit partners and determine which one should be awarded the community’s collective grant. For this campaign, Give Together is also accepting one-time donations, in addition to monthly subscriptions.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, Jolkona is launching our 4th annual Give to Girls campaign. All month long, we will bring you opportunities to help girls and women in nine countries.

By supporting women’s education, health and empowerment, we can create sustainable economic development and reduce poverty locally and globally. By working with Jolkona and our Give to Girls partners, you can help, too — starting with just $5. As U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states:

This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Welcome to Give to Girls 2014! This year’s projects:

Education

Maternal Health

Empowerment

Give Together Bonus

Starting at $10, you can also Give Together — contributing to a collective grant and helping us choose which project related to women and girls gets the community’s pool of donations this month.

With your support in these three key areas, not only will more women have social and economic opportunities, but the whole world will benefit from a ripple effect of change. Thank you for your support!

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It’s hard to believe that March is already here again, but at Jolkona we’re certainly excited about International Women’s Day on March 8. This year will be our 4th annual Give2Girls campaign, raising money to improve the lives of women and girls all over the world during Women’s History Month.

As UN Women states, “Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

Our preparations include reviewing the past three campaigns, celebrating we have collectively accomplished with the $40,000 raised, and all that is still left to do as we work to build greater gender equality and improving health, education and opportunity for women and girls locally and globally:

Jolkona’s Give2Girls 2013 raised over $5,000 through our generous donors and a partnership with the Seattle International Foundation. Every dollar went to saving lives and improving education, health and sanitation for women and girls in more than a dozen countries, from the United States to Iraq to Nepal. Through out last year’s campaign, we also worked to bring awareness to many issues that impact women’s equality, such as access to clean water and higher education.

Our Give2Girls 2012 raised $25,000, with a big boost from Women at Google and our champions Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian. And the inaugural Give2Girls campaign raised $10,000!

While looking forward to what we can accomplish this year, you can watch a live commemoration of the event on March 7th here, and stay tuned for our official campaign information next week. You can also get started on browsing our projects related to women and girls.

We’re excited and grateful to spend a fourth Women’s History Month working with you to help improve the lives of women and girls. Thank you for your support!

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Last week, dozens of women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel. Driving while female may seem trivial or mundane to us, but this is a major act of courage for Saudi women. While driving is technically not illegal for women in Saudi Arabia, they are banned from obtaining driver’s licenses, along with countless other acts of independence. Yet over 60 women (most equipped with international driver’s licenses and experience) coordinated a “drive-in” and posted videos of their activity online, continuing a small but persistent movement for improving women’s rights.

The Associated Press reports that the first time a Saudi female driving protest took place, in 1990, 50 women were arrested, had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs. But not a single woman was arrested on Wednesday. Activist and professor Aziza Youssef explained that they plan to continue driving and posting photos and videos, which they hope will normalize the notion of women driving. Check out some of their videos on The Guardian’s website.

Youssef and the other female Saudi drivers are an inspiration for women empowerment efforts everywhere, including partners and participants in Jolkona’s Women and Girls Give Together campaign. We believe that when given the right economic support and educational tools to rise out of poverty and oppression, women can make an incredible impact on the world.

If you want to make an impact of your own for women and girls, there’s only a few days left in this month’s Give Together campaign, with collective funds going to support Jubilee Women’s Center, MADRE, and the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation. We have $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation, which will double these Give Together donations and amplify October gifts to our Give Direct projects that also support women and girls.

Time is running out: help empower a woman or girl today!

Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

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Jolkona Staff - 2010

Jolkona’s Fearless Females – 2010

In Jolkona’s first five years, we’ve collected more than $700,000 for nonprofit partners locally and globally. More than $40,000 has come just through Give2Girls, a campaign we run every March to specifically support causes for women and girls. And we’ve raised more than $1,200 so far this month through our Give Together featured cause of Women & Girls, supporting projects in Seattle, Nepal and Sudan.

Our work for women and girls is much bigger than the occasional fundraising theme, however. One way or another, most of our partners empower women and girls. Some literally save lives; others strive to make those lives worth living. As Jolkona blogger Madison Abshire noted at the beginning of this month: “The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change… Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.”

We’ve had dozens of interesting posts here on the Jolkona Blog about how donors and volunteers can make a big difference for the world’s women and girls. Three blasts from the past:

Double Your Dollars

This month, we have matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation to amplify donations to Jolkona partner projects related to women and girls. This offer will double the first $1,500 given to our Give Together and Give Direct projects for women/girls. Which one inspires you to give? 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST WAS UPDATED OCT. 2 WITH INFORMATION ABOUT A MATCH CAMPAIGN FOR THIS MONTH.

The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change. That’s why empowering women, promoting gender equality, and improving maternal health are emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N. initiative to significantly reduce extreme poverty around the world.  Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.1377587_10151597205727396_451819059_n

Starting at just $10, join Jolkona and Give Together to three projects that not only change the lives of specific women locally and globally, but also help advance these Millennium Development Goals.

sudan madreMADRE

MADRE is an international human rights organization that addresses the urgent needs of women in crisis. By partnering with women locally, regionally and internationally, MADRE believes they can create lasting solutions to the world’s toughest problems, such as social injustice, inequality and sustainability issues.

Give Together‘s MADRE project supports women farmers in East Sudan, training them in sustainable agricultural practices to address malnutrition, provide basic education and access to literacy and health programs. Women contribute 80 percent of the food crops in Sudan, but are excluded from government aid programs. The Give Together community’s donations will give a woman farmer the means to support herself and her family despite the challenges of environmental degradation, the threat of armed conflict, and generational poverty. For every $250 we raise, MADRE can send two Sudanese women to a 2-day agricultural training program and buy enough sorghum, sesame and millet seed for 10 women this year.

Jubilee Women’s Center

The Jubilee Women’s Center is a Seattle-based organization that provides training and support to help women transition out of homelessness.

jubilee center

Where many homeless women come from a life of poverty and abuse and lack the job skills to be successful in today’s careers, the Jubilee Women’s Center has a proven record of success in helping these women achieve sustainable employment and independent living.

Give Together to help expand Jubilee’s Learning and Opportunity center so they can not only provide training to the center’s residents, but also women in the greater Seattle area. For every $250 that Give Together raises for this project, Jubilee can offer a 4-class career-building series to 12 women, including resume writing and job interview skills. With your help, these women will be able to find jobs and achieve independence.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

Most Nepali women are married by the age of 15, and only 27 percent are literate. These are huge barriers towards women becoming financially productive and independent.

Bo M. Karlsson Foundation

The Bo M. Karlsson Foundation provides young women and girls in Nepal with access to higher education, which reduces income inequality and empowers young women to become independent and productive agents of change in their communities. For every $250 we raise, the foundation can provide room and board for one female student for an entire year. Give Together to help a young Nepali woman attend a trade school or college.

Check the Jolkona Blog throughout the month for more detailed information about each project. UPDATE: This month’s donations will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation, so our contributions will go twice as far!

Join Jolkona to Give Together for Women & Girls in October, and make a big difference for women in Africa, Asia and the United States.

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How’s your knowledge of women’s history? Honestly. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say mine is a little patchy. Well, if you’re anything like me, then this month of March is your chance to change that. March is Women’s History Month – a world-wide movement that looks back and celebrates the tenacious achievements of women in our history, with a mind to looking forward and increasing awareness of the great distance that is yet to be traveled to achieve gender equality.

Introducing the Give2Girls matching campaign

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we’re proud to be launching our second Give2Girls matching campaign, running for the whole of March – starting today! We’re dedicating thirty one days to improving the lives of thousands of women and girls around the globe. Like last year, we’re partnering with the indefatigable CRAVE, a networking organization committed to connecting and promoting women entrepreneurs.

How will the campaign work?

Give to any of our 20+ projects related to women or girls, and we will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $500 per donor! Even better than that, though, we will double your proof. So donate $40 to educate one girl in Afghanistan for ten months, and we’ll send you the proof for how two girls have been educated. The campaign is being matched up to a total of $6,000.

Why this campaign?

Here are just some of the reasons:

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 – already the largest in history – is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.
  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.

(statistics taken from girleffect.org)

For too long women have been over-looked. Their worth within society, communities, and families has been woefully neglected. And the true absurdity of this is that the roles they play within these spheres are of paramount importance. But we’re not here to bemoan the past; we’re here to change the future. So let’s do that.

What can I do?

1. Educate yourself. Give a bit of your time to learning about the past and women’s history. You can start here at womenshistorymonth.org. Then, learn about the present. The sites are numerous, but here are a couple we like: girleffect.org and the UN’s womenwatch.

2. Spread the word. Share what you learn and share our campaign with your friends, families and social networks. Tweet using the hashtag #give2girls.

3. Change the future. Support the Give2Girls campaign and invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today!

Empower women and girls the world over here.

 

When we announced the Give to Girls (Give2Girls) campaign on March 8th, the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, the plan was to use the initial match of $2,000 to jumpstart the campaign and ignite excitement in investing in the women of tomorrow. But we did more than that — by the end of the day, we had raised almost $6,000, including the match, which will go down in Jolkona’s history as the highest single-day of fundraising we’ve had to date.

I want to stop there and let you re-read that last sentence.

That evening after launching the campaign, we hosted an event with CRAVE at PNK Ultra Lounge in downtown Seattle that was originally designed to launch the Give2Girls campaign, but because of your enormous support, the event turned into a celebration of the day and a call to rally around the campaign through the end of the month.

Well, continue the support is exactly what you did. During the three remaining weeks of March, I am thrilled to announce that the Give to Girls campaign raised just over $10,000 total for women and girls empowerment projects through Jolkona!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who sponsored, donated, helped get the word out, and supported this movement!

Together, in a hair over three weeks, here is the impact we made towards empowering women and girls:

  • 2 girls educated in Nepal for 1 year
  • 2 girl educated in China
  • 2 girls educated for 1 year in India
  • 1 girl attended “self-esteem” training in USA
  • 4 days of doctor’s service provided in Bangladesh
  • 1 woman in Sudan received a farming land
  • 5 women trained in Haiti
  • 3 energy efficient stoves provided in Nepal
  • 3 weeks of food provided to safe houses in Iraq
  • 4 hygiene kits provided in Tanzania
  • 52 months of oral contraceptives supplied in Nepal
  • 2 Afghani refugees in Pakistan received year long scholarships
  • 2 neighborhood safe spaces provided in Haiti
  • 4 mothers and their children got nutritional support in India
  • 2 girls supported to attend day school in China
  • 2 literary texts provided in Niger
  • 2 days of medical supplies provided in Bangladesh
  • 9 hygiene kits provided in camps in Haiti
  • 3 solar lamps provided in Tanzania
  • 3 girls saved from “honor killing” in Iraq
  • 4 women’s stories sponsored in China
  • 9 weeks of health screenings in Bangladesh
  • 11 girls educated for 1 year in Afghanistan
  • 3 days of training and counseling provided in Haiti
  • 3 enslaved girls rescued in Nepal
  • 200 lbs of seeds provided to women farmers in Sudan
  • 6 field trips sponsored for girls in the USA
  • 2 young women mentors trained in Nepal
  • 1 girl trained in Pakistan
  • 1 year of training provided in Niger
  • 1 week of healthcare provided to a mother and her baby in Guatemala

Give 2 Girls Impact Map

Thank you to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

For those made one of the first $2,000 in donations, you will receive a proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation the Give2Girls fund matched on your behalf. Those gifts have already been added to your account, so you will be notified when they are completed.

To our donors: Thank you for contributing to the campaign and showing that individuals can make a huge difference in the world and small donations add up to create a big impact!

To our sponsors – Thank you, Hias Gourmet, Virtually Savvy, and Flaunt, Inc. for coming together to combine your dollars and create the matched fund that ignited this campaign. It worked. And we are thankful for your support.

To our partner – Thank you, CRAVE, including Melody Biringer, Nicole Shema, and the entire CRAVE team for partnering with us to turn an idea into a campaign and helping us show how important it is to support these projects.

Investing in women doesn’t stop here

You can continue to see the support of women and girls empowerment projects on the campaign page. Each of these projects tracks towards a larger goal, that of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically MDG #3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women and MDG #5: Improve Maternal Health. If you’re as passionate about investing in the women of tomorrow as we are, we ask that you continue to support these projects and change the statistics.

Because as we know, women are vital when it comes to changing the world. And can you imagine what that world will look like?

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a global day dedicated to honoring the economic, political, and social achievements women have made throughout history by celebrating the women in our lives today. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam, and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

This year, Jolkona is partnering with CRAVE and a number of women-owned businesses to launch Give to Girls (Give2Girls), a campaign dedicated to educating, empowering, and providing health for women and girls around the world.

But why are we launching this campaign if women already get one entire day dedicated to them?

Because we want to change the statistics*

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 — already the largest in history — is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We all have the ability to help make an impact in the lives of women and girls in our own community and around the globe. We all can celebrate International Women’s Day by looking beyond where we’re at today and think about where we want to be tomorrow.

Announcing the Give 2 Girls Campaign

We are committed to improving the lives of women and girls around the world. To jumpstart this investment in their future, we are partnering with CRAVE and a group of women-owned businesses who have created a fund that will match the first gifts made to women’s development projects on Jolkona, dollar for dollar, up to $2,000.

Will you be one of the first donors to join us in investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today?

For each donation made, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation. Once exceed the matched donation, let’s keep the momentum going and see how much we can raise for these projects through the end of March.

Special Thank You

This campaign is made possible by the generous support of the following businesses that have combined their dollars to sponsor the matched fund for this campaign. Each one of these companies are owned by women and but their client base is not. We encourage you to check them out!

Gold level: Hias Gourmet
Silver level: Virtually Savvy
Bronze level: Flaunt, Inc.

We would also like to thank the team at CRAVE for partnering with us on this campaign and helping us put International Women’s Day on the map!

Join the movement – you can follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as the conversations that are happening on Facebook and on Twitter (via @Jolkona and #Give2Girls).

Other ways to get involved

  • Tonight, we’re kicking off the campaign by celebrating International Women’s Day with CRAVE at PNK Ultra Lounge. If you’re in Seattle, come join us for the fun and stay for the dessert bar (RSVP here!).

*Source: Girl Effect Fact Sheet

Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Like many first-time moms, when I went into labor last year, I was really scared about how painful the delivery would be and whether anything would go wrong with me or my baby girl. And even now, though Aleena is very healthy, I often double-check to make sure she’s still breathing when she’s asleep.

These fears are real to me, but they seem so trivial compared to the fears that mothers in developing countries face: Will they survive childbirth? Will their babies survive? Will they be able to give them clean water and healthy food? What about medicine if they get sick? Can they afford to send them to school? All of them, or just the boys?

Medical complications from pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for women around the world. Even in India, which has made great strides in the past generation, the maternal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization – even worse than in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. But there’s hope: When I visited a Kolkata slum a few years ago, I met with a grateful woman and baby who had received proper prenatal care and a safe delivery through Calcutta Kids. Thanks to the funding this nonprofit gets from our Jolkona donors and other supporters, this woman and thousands of others in her community no longer live in fear of dying in childbirth, or that their children won’t live past their fifth birthdays.

Some people argue that supporting efforts to improve maternal and child healthcare in slums and developing countries only exacerbates overpopulation. But, as Melinda Gates noted in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, the data actually show that when more children survive, women opt to have fewer babies – slowing population growth and improving education and empowerment opportunities per family.

 In addition to health issues, the world’s women and girls continue to lag behind in education and employment. Improving these measures is a win-win-win for the women, their families and their communities. Researchers have confirmed that when women and girls earn money, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families (compared to only 30-40 percent for men) – a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty in a single generation.  

Last Day to Give to Girls

These stories and statistics inspire me during Jolkona’s annual Give to Girls campaign, combined with March as Women’s History Month. This year, we focused on crowdfunding in three categories where our growing pool of small donations can have the greatest collective impact: maternal health, education, and empowerment. The 10 projects we chose will each provide proofs for every donation, so that even small donors feel confident that they can make a difference.

It always amazes me how little it costs to make a life-changing difference for young woman. For just $30, we can train a woman farmer in Sudan. For $60, we can educate a girl in Afghanistan for one year. For $160, we can provide prenatal care to a mother in Guatemala.

All it takes is a small donation to change lives – starting with one girl, her family, her village, and the world. We need to invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today.

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Jolkona’s mission is to engage a new generation of philanthropists, by making giving easy, meaningful and transparent. Millennials like me (ages 22-35) yearn for something more when it comes to philanthropy: we want to go beyond making donations, to be truly engaged with social change. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, while older generations value giving time and financial support to organizations, we millennials want to be excited and passionate about a cause — learning new skills and expanding our networks along the way.

The evolution of Jolkona’s Give Together campaign, our monthly giving program, reflects our mission and millennial perspective. Starting at $10/month, members are invited to our private Facebook group, where you can view project proposals from our nonprofit partners, discuss the pros and cons, and lobby for your favorite. It’s a unique way to learn about different causes, engage in the grant-making process, and network with a community of passionate, like-minded donors.

In the same way that engaging millennials is the driving force in 21st century philanthropy, empowering women is the driving force of global development. This month’s Give Together theme is “Women & Girls,” tied to our March Give to Girls campaign, with nine projects targeting women’s education, maternal health and empowerment. Give Together is our bonus tenth option: we’re considering three proposals to change girls’ lives in Afghanistan (Barakat), Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation) and Nicaragua (MADRE). Join Give Together before March 31, and help us choose which innovative project gets this month’s grant.

When you Give Together, you can be part of the changing face of philanthropy. You can give with a network of other passionate philanthropists, and be more knowledgable than ever about the projects you support. Give Together for Girls.

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I got the news on a Thursday afternoon, in February 2012. Our sales team had completed a stellar quarter at Google, and the email notified me that I could expect a handsome bonus in a few weeks time.

As my mind raced with ways I could use the extra money,  I thought about my recent volunteer expedition to South America, with Jolkona. I’d been meaning to do something positive once I got back to the U.S.; perhaps a donation was a good place to start. I called up my good friend, Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud, and told her I wanted to make a donation benefiting women and girls. Nadia said, ”Well, rather than a donation, how about making a sponsorship?”

I’d never done something like this before; weren’t sponsors supposed to be big organizations or corporations, and not random tech employees like myself? But together, Nadia and I crafted a plan for Jolkona’s 2nd Annual Give to Girls campaign. I’d match donations, dollar for dollar, to a handful of charities that Jolkona works with — and we decided to approach the women’s network at my office to come on board as a key marketing partner.

My initial thought was to not mention my individual sponsorship in our marketing campaign, keeping it anonymous . The head of our women’s committee thought this was ridiculous. “Absolutely not! We’ll tape a video of you talking about the campaign, and you need to put your name on this.” I was reluctant, but the personal touch seemed to work.  Our community banded together, and the donations came in day by day. I received countless emails from co-workers and friends excited to support our efforts. And one particularly generous coworker of mine, Jessan Hutchison-Quillian, was moved to join me halfway through the campaign as a sponsor.

I never imagined we’d raise $25,000 for girls & women in 2012, and I’m so happy Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is now in its fourth year.

Through my Give to Girls sponsorship, I learned a couple of powerful lessons. First, I witnessed the power of the crowd rather than the individual — we can truly amplify our impact when we give together. Second, I experienced how people around you will rise to the occasion when you share your personal passion for something. Jessan jumping in as a co-sponsor was an unexpected and wonderful example.

During these last few days of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to make a meaningful donation to Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon Nissar leads various giving initiatives at Google. Since 2010, she has volunteered with Jolkona, and has spent six weeks traveling/blogging through South America & South East Asia as part of their Expeditions.

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When I was fresh out of college and teaching in Singapore, I spent a whole day on MRT subways and buses all over the country — in search of a women’s basketball. I found myself trying to explain to young men and women, in both English and Mandarin, what a “women’s basketball” was… Anyway, I couldn’t find one. Eventually, I discovered that although hundreds of boys’ secondary school basketball teams participated in Singapore’s interscholastic league, only about 30 girls’ teams did. That was when I really, really realized how much Title IX had done for girls in the United States —and how lucky we are to be gaining more gender equality with every generation.

After more travels, including teaching in Honduras and backpacking through Central America, I came to Seattle and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As Jolkona’s newest Communications Intern, I’m thrilled to use my love of writing and global development to raise awareness for social change, to bring to the page what I have witnessed abroad and turn it into action.

Jolkona provides young professionals and backpackers like me on limited budgets a platform to donate and, drop by drop, make every single dollar matter — whether it’s in providing children in Mexico with fresh producesupporting safe births for women in Palestine, or creating jobs for silk weavers in India.

By joining the Jolkona team, I will no longer be just another tourist who has passed by; my experiences can continue contributing to a worthy cause. I’m excited to work with a group of like-minded volunteers who are committed to making a difference, one day, one dollar, one drop at a time.

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And finally, as an advocate for women’s rights, I’m excited to be joining Jolkona during its annual Give to Girls campaign — supporting 10 nonprofit projects that help women and girls locally and globally. Join us!

Bea Chang received her MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her stories and essays have appeared in Colere: A Journal of Cultural Exploration, Toasted Cheese, and Memoir Journal. Since 2007, she has lived in and backpacked through 50 countries. 

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