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Today is United Nations Day, celebrating the ratification of the U.N. Charter on Oct. 24, 1945. For the past 68 years, the U.N. has been a driving force in global humanitarian efforts. More recently, the body’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have become an essential metric for member countries and nonprofits to measure their impact and track their progress in working to alleviate the world’s greatest problems.

The MDGs aim to:

  • 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

Many organizations, and many regular donors just like you, are committed to making progress on the MDGs. Browse the Jolkona Blog archive to learn more about the work that we’re doing with our partners to support these goals, including these posts:

Taking Collective Action

In his official statement for United Nations Day 2013, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stresses the importance of planning for what happens after the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals:

This year again, we saw the United Nations come together on armed conflict, human rights, the environment and many other issues. We continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united.

Collective action is also central to Jolkona’s mission, and is the essence of the Give Together monthly philanthropy program we launched earlier this year. When you join Give Together during October, your donation supports three projects working to help women and girls locally and globally, promoting gender equality (as per one of the MDGs). We also have matching funds this month from the Seattle International Foundation for projects related to women and girls, enabling us to double the first $1,500 donated to those Give Together and Give Direct projects until Nov. 1.

Which one inspires you to give? 

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.


Global Partnership, MDG 8; Jolkona in Africa

Develop a global partnership for development

The final of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is developing a global partnership for development. This does sound a little recursive, but it is actually significant for the achievement of the other seven goals.

Targets

The UN identifies 6 targets as metrics for achieving goal 8.

  1. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
  2. Address the special needs of the least developed countries
  3. Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing states
  4. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries
  5. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  6. In cooperation with the private sector, make available new technologies, especially information and communications

Teamwork

At its heart, the focus of goal 8 is getting everyone on the “same page” when it comes to development work around the globe. This a solution to the fact that many of the problems faced by people in the developing world today are too big or complicated for a single actor–whether an NGO or a government–to take on alone. The aim of goal 8, then, is to demonstrate that organizations can better serve others when they can focus on one area of strength and find partners in other areas. One common disconnect for organizations is between donors and the field: many organizations excel at doing work in the field but struggle with how to connect with donors who can fund their projects.

Small donations having measurable impact

Part of what makes Jolkona so unique as a foundation is that ability to connect individual donors to the larger picture of progress being made on the Millennium Development Goals on many fronts. This is one MDG where Jolkona is directly involved in meeting the targets. By connecting donors and development organizations, not only is Jolkona funding important projects around the world, Jolkona is fostering partnerships.

How you can help

Since Jolkona is directly involved in building these essential partnerships, you can help achieve goal 8 by donating to the Kona fund. This is what keeps Jolkona operating, allows us to add new partners, and allows us to have staff, volunteers and interns working to achieve all of the MDGs.

  1. Donate to the Jolkona Kona fund
  2. Sponsor a volunteer meeting
  3. Add a new project to Jolkona.org

For more information on Jolkona and its mission (especially if you haven’t already!) take a look at our about us page.

Ensure environmental sustainability

As we near the end of our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and how they relate to Jolkona, we look this week at environmental sustainability.

Targets

There are four targets the UN sets for achievement of goal 7:

  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss
  3. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  4. By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Expansive scope

With the exception of the first goal of eliminating extreme hunger and poverty, perhaps no other goal is as broad reaching as goal 7. Any one of the targets of goal 7 could likely be a goal unto themselves. Sustainable development and the preservation of rain forests has a huge impact on environment and economics of the developing world. And there are in fact hundreds of millions of people living in slum conditions around the world today. But the target we will focus on today is that of clean drinking water and sanitation.

Clean water

What makes clean water so important? Quite simply, water is life. While it varies somewhat, the average human can only survive three days without water. Because water is so vital to life, many people are forced to drink unclean water because that is all they have available. The problem is a host of horrible diseases–like Cholera and Hepatitis, for example–can be contracted through consumption of dirty or polluted water.

On top of the risk of disease, a huge economic drain is created when people (most often women and children) are forced to walk long distances to acquire water, whether it is clean or not. This travel time is time spent out of school or work. Some estimates place the economic cost, for Africa alone, at $28 BILLION dollars per year.

The good news is that many organizations are doing a great job of drilling wells and working on other clean water projects. The bad news is that even as there are many organizations working on this, it remains a huge issue for billions of people around the globe.

How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects supporting goal 7:

  1. Plant trees in Ethiopia
  2. Provide clean water in Kenya
  3. Provide ceramic water filters in Kenya

For more information about the issue of access to clean water, check out Charity: Water’s great “Why water” page.

End malaria now_bestdamntech

Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases

Continuing our series on how the United Nations Millennium Development Goals relate to Jolkona, we look today at Goal 6.

One of the biggest challenges in development remains combatting the effects of pandemic, preventable disease. One UN report estimates that malaria alone saps up to 1.3% of the yearly economic growth of some African countries. That 1% might not sound like a lot, but when spread across an entire economy over several years, it could mean tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic productivity.

In part for this reason, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #6 is fighting the effects of HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases.

Target metrics

mdg 6

The UN identifies three target metrics for fighting communicable disease.

  1. Have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs by 2015
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDs
  3. Have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of Malaria and other major diseases by 2015

The fight against HIV/AIDs

Currently there are some 34 million people living in the world with HIV. While there is no cure, in the developed world HIV/AIDs rates among the general population remain low and there are treatment options available for managing the disease. In many developing countries however, rates of infection run much higher and few, if any, treatment options are available. Recognizing the role pandemic disease plays in slowing economic development the United Nations Development Programme is one of the agencies at the front of helping countries deal with HIV/AIDs.

Successes

While HIV/AIDs and Malaria continue to be huge problems in public health worldwide, it is important to remember that there have been successes in eradicating pandemic diseases before. Smallpox, which killed an estimated 300-500 million people during the 20th century was completely eradicated by 1979 thanks in part to efforts spearheaded by the World Health Organization. And while the fight against Malaria and HIV/AIDs can seem daunting, some hopeful estimates put Polio–another once pandemic disease–near eradication in the near future.

How you can help

Here are some current Jolkona projects working toward Goal 6.

  1. Supply medicine to children in Sierra Leone
  2. Give care to HIV-infected children in Cambodia
  3. Help build latrines in Haiti

Photo Credit: Drew Olanoff

Improve maternal health

Today we look at the fifth goal in our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Goal five is improving maternal health.

Two targets

In achieving goal 5, the UN has two metrics they use for measuring success.

  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare

Maternal mortality

Childbirth is one of the most dangerous activities for women in the developing world. Any number of things can go wrong in the birthing process that endanger not just the health and life of the child, but the mother as well. From hemorrhaging to breech births to infection, thousands of women die every year giving birth.

Just a quick glance at the statistics reveals how much a concern this is in development work. Compare countries like Chad, Somalia and Afghanistan—where over 1000 women die per 100,000 births—with a country like Germany—where just 7 women die per 100,000 births. (Statistics via the World Health Statistics 2011 report.)

Reproductive health

An important part of reducing the maternal mortality rate is making sure all women have access to reproductive healthcare. This ranges from family planning to skilled birthing assistants to clean, sterile birthing environments.

Family planning is one of the best and most certain ways of reducing maternal mortality–fewer births equal less risk for the mother. However, family planning is also a highly controversial topic in many countries where religious or cultural concerns over contraception and discussion of reproductive issues outside of the family is considered taboo.

Far less controversial is access to skilled birthing assistants, especially midwives and medical professionals. Having a trained birthing assistant with sterile medical equipment and a clean environment goes a long way toward eliminating the risk of infection for both the mother and child.

Take a look at this slideshow from the Gates Foundation for the story of a woman in Nepal and the difference access to a birthing assistant made for her.

How you can help

Here is a list of Jolkona projects that work to support the goal of improving maternal health.

  1. Provide medical supplies in Bangladesh
  2. Support safe births in Palestine
  3. Provide healthcare to Nepalese women
  4. Adopt a mother in India

Child health and mortality

Goal 4 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

What is child mortality?

Child mortality, in this case, is the number of deaths per 1000 children under the age of 5.

Statistics

According to UNICEF, “Most child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, pre-term delivery or lack of oxygen at birth.” Further, most of these deaths take place in the developing world. Modern public health efforts and medical technologies have largely eliminated the threats of disease and premature birth in the developed world.

This is abundantly clear when looking at the countries where child mortality is highest and lowest:

Bottom 5 –

  1. Chad – 209 deaths by age 5 per 1000 live births
  2. Afghanistan – 199 deaths
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 199 deaths
  4. Guinea-Bissau – 193 deaths
  5. Sierra Leone – 192 deaths

Top 5 –

  1. Japan, Singapore, Cyprus, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia, and Sweden – 3 deaths
  2. Luxembourg and San Marino – 2

The average for countries in the America’s is 18, in Europe it is 13. In Africa, the country average number of child deaths by age 5 is 127!

(via World Health Statistics 2011 report)

What is being done

Fortunately progress is being made on several fronts to improve the health of children under 5 around the globe. Some of this progress is at a very structural level, increasing funding for hospitals and medical clinics to ensure emergency care is necessary in acute cases of illness. Some progress is also being made in vaccination programs, working to eliminate diseases like measles and polio through coordinated vaccine programs.

For more information, and a few laughs, take a look at Hans Rosling’s TEDxChange talk from September of 2010 about progress being made on Goal 4.

 

How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects that are working toward achieving Goal 4

  1. Save a Young Child from Diarrhea in India
  2. Adopt a Mother in India
  3. Provide Maternal and Child Healthcare in Guatemala

The MDGs and Gender Equality

Promote gender equality and empower women

The third goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is “Promote gender equality and empower women.” This includes equality in education, labor rights, health care, and legal and political access.

Often in the development context, even in situations where all indicators point to progress, women and girls lag behind. For example, a 2008 UNESCO report found that out of an estimated 774million adults who lack basic literacy, 64% are women.

Importance of education

As is often the case in the long-term development context, education is the foundation for real progress. The stated target of goal 3 is, in fact, to eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.

Girls who receive an education have a higher income earning potential than those who do not, between 10% and 20% more for every year of education they complete. With higher income comes a healthier family, as women can buy better food for their children. They can afford to keep their children in school longer, instead of keeping them home to work. Educated women are also more likely to participate in politics, not just by voting but also by running for public office.

Change now

While education is important in the long-term for women in developing countries, they face many pressing short-term issues as well.

Women, whether they have received an education or not, face great discrimination in the work place. They lack equal pay for equal work, lack maternity leave, face sexual harassment, or are not allowed to hold the same jobs or do the same kinds of work as men. A report from UNICEF in 2007 found that while women perform 66% of the world’s “work” and produce 50% of all food, they earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

If women are to meet the short-term metrics of the MDGs, significant political and economic reform must take place in many developing countries. There is hope for change though. CGAP, an independent policy and research center housed at the World Bank, says the following about what happens when women are the focus of micro-finance development programs:

“Women often become more assertive and confident. In regions where women’s mobility is strictly regulated, women have often become more visible and are better able to negotiate the public sphere. Women involved in microfinance may also own assets, including land and housing, and play a stronger role in decision making. In some programs that have been active over many years, there are even reports of declining levels of violence against women.” (via CGAP.org)

 

Making change happen

How you can help

As I am sure you have noticed, Jolkona launched a new campaign with the Seattle International Foundation to provide grassroots leadership training to women from around the world. Though the Groupon deal that helped launch the campaign has ended, you can still contribute through the Jolkona project page.

Here are a list of additional projects Jolkona currently supports that are in line with the Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women.

  1. Provide education to the females of Afghanistan
  2. Support women farmers in Sudan
  3. Ignite girls’ leadership in Pakistan

For more information on the work the United Nations is doing focused on goal 3, take a look at the UN Women MDG page.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Achieve universal primary education

Today we continue looking at the connection between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. The second of the MDGs is achieving universal primary education. This means that every child receives the equivalent of an American sixth grade education.

A sixth grade education does not sound like much, and for those of us in the West we often think of someone who’s formal schooling stops at elementary school as being at a massive disadvantage compared to others with a high school or college diploma or other advanced academic degree.

But with a sixth grade education comes at least basic literacy and arithmetic skills—skills vital for economic development. Farmers need to know what price they are paying for seeds, store owners need to read property leases, and parents need to read and understand medical dosage information for treating their sick children.

Current progress

According to the United Nations 2011 MDG Report, as of 2009 about 67 million children are still out of school, down from 106 million in 1999. Of that 67 million, about 48 million live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (32 million in Africa, 16 million in Asia). The biggest barriers for the 67 million children still out of school remain gender (being female), poverty and/or being located in a rural community.

Still, some of the poorest countries in Africa (including Burundi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, and the United Republic of Tanzania) have managed to achieve the goal, giving hope that even the least developed countries can still achieve universal primary education by 2015.

How you can help

Jolkona supports a variety of projects aimed at achieving universal primary education. Here are a few:

  1. Provide tutoring to indigenous children in Guatemala
  2. Help teachers at a school in rural Zambia
  3. Support children’s education in India

For more information you can visit the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) education web site.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

A few weeks back we began our discussion of the Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. Today we will continue by looking in depth at the first of the MDGs.

The first of the MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Targets for eradicating extreme poverty

There are two target metrics the UN has set for the eradication of extreme poverty.

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1/day
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Economists use two bars for determining who in the world is considered economically poor. The first, people living on $2/day, are considered “merely” poor. The second, those living on $1/day, are considered the “extremely poor”.

This may seem like a strange distinction to make but it’s important because while we would all like to see everyone living in poverty to have a chance at a better life, it is those living on $1/day or less who are the most vulnerable to climate change, natural disaster and economic hardships like recessions or changes in food prices.

The best way to lift these people out of poverty is meaningful work. Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Target for eradicating hunger

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger

The most obvious cases of hunger are usually acute famines, such as what is currently transpiring in East Africa. A mix of political instability and climate change can create a situation in which crops are unable to grow, and people and livestock die as a result.

Food security is also an issue closely tied to poverty. People who are poor or extremely poor often cannot afford to buy the food they need for themselves or their families, especially in light of food prices that have risen sharply in the past few years. For some people, undernourishment or malnourishment is a way of life.

Poor nutrition hits children especially hard, and has long lasting effects. Children who do not receive a proper diet suffer from physical and mental developmental issues. This can range from simply being under-height and weight when they reach adulthood, to severe mental retardation as a result. According to one USAID report, even before the 2008 global financial collapse and concurrent rise in food prices, 178 million children (about 1/3 of all children) were suffering from chronic malnutrition.

What you can do to help

Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger would not just meet the first of the MDGs, it can have a huge impact on all the others as well. Here are some ways you can get involved through Jolkona supported projects:

  1. Provide seeds or farming tools to a family in Nicaragua
  2. Provide healthy meals for children in Uganda
  3. Help families fleeing famine in Somalia

For more information, take a look at the United Nations Development Program’s Millennium Development Goals page.

Groupon Jolkona campaign

Yesterday Jolkona launched a Groupon campaign to support a 10-week training fellowship for women grassroots leaders from around the world. This is a great campaign on so many levels. I decided to share my top 10 reasons why this is an awesome campaign.

10 Reasons to Support Women Grassroots Leadership Training through Jolkona

  1. According to the World Food Programme, for every dollar invested in a woman in a developing part of the globe, $0.90 of it will be spent on the woman’s family or community. So your dollars are going a long way.
  2. Women spend a lot of time with their children, setting great examples for the next generation on how to impact society.
  3. Women are proven community leaders. The training received by these women will be transferred to the rest of the community.
  4. Every one of these women is a great collaborator. Upon their return home, the impact of the training they receive in Seattle will be magnified through their collaborations with others.
  5. These women are champions of a fairer society. Your support for this campaign will lead to more just societies where these women live.
  6. After the training, these women leaders will be equipped with additional resources to grow their already high-impact programs.
  7. Through this training, women grassroots leaders will share best practices with each other. This sharing of ideas will lead to increased efficiency for each of their programs.
  8. All of Seattle will be able to learn from these leaders’ innovative approaches to solving problems in their societies, fostering deeper engagement by the Seattle community in international development
  9. This program works. Watch this video from the 2010 Women in the World Breakfast about the impact it had on a participant from last year.
  10. For every $10 donation you make to our campaign on Groupon, the Seattle International Foundation will match it, doubling your impact. Plus Groupon is covering all transaction fees, channeling 100% to go towards this cause.

If you can give a $1 for each of these reasons, then you will consider buying our Groupon deal for only $10.

BuyNow

You can read more about this unique program here to build capacity among a new generation of women grassroots leaders. With your support, these women leaders will be catalysts for positive change in their institutions and communities.

Here at Jolkona, we like to talk about how our projects line up with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But we haven’t talked much about what the MDGs are and why they are important.

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The United Nations MDGs are the most current and probably most important multi-lateral development effort in the world to date. While “development” is a somewhat nebulous term, in this case it refers to any effort by governments or nonprofits to improve, among other things, the living conditions, health or education of a country or people group. This could range from small rural medical clinics to massive infrastructure projects such as new dams or highways.

Before the MDGs, development work was mostly done piecemeal, with organizations and governments determining their own goals and metrics for success. The MDGs represent the first time every member country of the UN — along with a number of nongovernmental organizations — agreed to the same development objectives, committing to see eight specific and measurable goals achieved by 2015.

History of the Millennium Development Goals

In 1996, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began working on a framework for what the goals and strategies of development in the 21st century would look like. The Millennium Development Goals are the combination of that framework and the Millennium Declaration, a document signed by all United Nations member countries after the September 2000 UN Millennium Summit. Since that time the MDGs have been the main framework for doing global development work.

Eight goals for development

There are eight goals identified by the MDGs, the first seven of which are measurable and the eighth which is more of an ideal than a goal:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality rates
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental stability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Why Jolkona uses the Millennium Development Goals

Though Jolkona does not pick projects based on their connection to the MDGs, all of our projects align with them. Connecting our projects to the MDGs allows Jolkona and donors to track how our work is contributing to key development metrics. Not only can you see your donation’s impact on a micro level — through the feedback you receive from our partners in the form of school grades, photos or field reports — but you can also see how your gifts are making a difference on a macro level as countries achieve the various goals. Your funding one child’s education, for example, also moves the country that child is in closer to achieving universal primary education, the second MDG.

How to get involved

Now that you have a better understanding of what the MDGs are, take a look here on the Impact page of the Jolkona site to sort projects by the specific MDG they work toward. On each project page you can also see which MDGs that project aligns with (note the colored bars on the right in the image below).

For the most up-to-date information and statistics on progress toward the goals, take a look at the UN’s MDG homepage.

You can also keep an eye on our blog — in the coming weeks, we’ll drill down on each of the goals, talking more about what they hope to achieve and highlighting Jolkona projects that work toward them.

Earth Day by AlicePopkorn

Earth Day—April 22 of every year—is a day dedicated to inspiring and mobilizing people all around the world to demonstrate their commitment to the environment, sustainability, and this big green and blue planet we call home.

There are tons of ways to celebrate your commitment to the environment:

There are freebies

If you bring a reusable mug or tumbler into any Starbucks location in the US or Canada today, they’ll give you a free brewed coffee or tea. This promotion isn’t just about free coffee, it’s about keeping “nearly 1.45 million pounds of paper out of landfills,” as per Sue, manager of global responsibility at Starbucks.

There are celebrations

Our friends at the Nature Conservancy are hosting a Picnic for the Planet in a number of cities worldwide. The goal is for people to step outside and head to their favorite outdoor spot to enjoy good food in the company of great people. If you’re in Seattle, be sure to swing by the Nature Conservancy of Washington’s picnic at Pike Place Market!

There are projects that let you make a direct impact on the planet

Jolkona has 15 projects that support the environment. For as little as $5, you can plant 50 trees in countries like Burundi, Ethiopia, and Haiti. To date, the Jolkona community has planted over 18,000 trees worldwide. How many more can we plant by the end of Earth Day?

In addition to planting trees, we have 4 projects for less than $100 that work towards ensuring environmental sustainability:

Teach Water Conservation to Costa Rican Youth – This is one of my personal favorite environmental projects that Jolkona offers as it combines two things: education and the environment. Through the Water Guards Program, students in Costa Rica learn about water conservation and how to teach what they learn to their peers and lead their community at school how to reduce unnecessary and wasteful water consumption. Talk about an amazing project!

Want to see this project in action? Last year, two Jolkona team members visited this project and saw its impact first hand.

Conserve African Rainforests – Protecting the Earth’s rainforests are essential for preserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and supporting local villages who are custodians of the forests.

Build an Energy Efficient Stove for Nepali Family – A lot of people living in the U.S. have Energy Star appliances, so what does “Energy Star” look like in the rest of the world? This stove not only protects old growth forests in Nepal from being harvested but also reduces lung disease through proper venting and frees up the village women from spending an average of 8.5 hours per household per month on collecting firewood.

Train Environmental Youth Advocates in Kenya – To create change in your own community, you need local leaders to be advocates and change makers. This project helps train ten rural village youth to educate and advocate on human-caused sources of pollution and the effects it has on public health in their own community. Much like the Costa Rican Youth project above, this one has amazing potential to make a lasting impact!

This planet is all we have right now, let’s work to make sure we keep it!

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Photo by: AlicePopkorn

Many of us are aware of a certain online coupon company using Super Bowl air time to launch some much-talked about ad spots. Whether or not you find issue and the tactics used to bring awareness to their CSR matched giving campaign, it has certainly garnered them plenty of attention. Friends, let’s at least agree that stirring up emotion was part of their strategy to raise awareness. Really, the big question is how much impact will these ads have on their overall brand? Folks love themselves some deep discounts, yet there is plenty of noise about people canceling their accounts over these ads mentioned in the comment section on the giving campaign page. Time and revenue stream will tell.

If you think it was in horrid taste or you are secretly hiding the fact that you see some of the marketing genus behind these ads –  did it make the masses (or you) pay closer attention to the company or the campaign? It got me to research the campaign and check out the sites of the causes who will receive Groupon’s matched funds – Greenpeace, TibetFund, Rainforest Action Network, and buildOn. All are great, worthwhile projects who are most deserving of support. I just hope that for the causes featured and the celebrities who made time to support this effort, that it truly makes a difference and funds are matched to the fullest. In fact, the Greenpeace project sold out as of 2/9 & is fully funded, with 6,667 units sold at $15 each! That is a whole lot money going to spare our water-dwelling mammals with fins from commercial whaling.

If you got fired up about the strategy and the message used to get your attention, make time to find your own way to impact change in the world, or within your own neighborhood. Find a cause that is meaningful to you and support it. I have several favorites. As many of you know, I spend some of free time working with Jolkona. Basically, volunteering my time to make their giving platform a world-class experience and truly make a difference in other people’s lives. I love every minute of working with such smart, dedicated people. This year we are off to firecracker start and we have a lot of exciting things in the works – starting off with our first matching campaign of year – Give2ED. Read more about Brandon’s efforts here, in this blog post.

Starting February 8th, any donation made to one Jolkona’s many Education projects, will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $4,000.  As with any of our projects, donors will receive a proof of impact for their donation and also receive additional details of the proof for the matched donation.

Want to further help Tibet with matched funds?

Here is how you can help Give2ED:

  • Empower a Tibetan Girl for $40 to provide schooling for the 6 months.
  • Fund a rural Tibet middle school library providing them with at least 10 pieces of valuable interactive learning tools (books, CD’s & DVD’s in multiple languages) for as little as $50.
  • Sponsor an Orphan for year’s worth of education at Sengdruk Takse School for less than $195 a year.

These three projects hit on several of United Nations The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. It is the most widely accepted guideline we have for measuring impact of donations you make. You can find more information about UN’s vision for the MDGs here.

It’s another great way to see how every gift our donors make contributes to a bigger global effort to tackle some of humanity’s biggest problems.

You can support the Give2ED campaign, follow our progress our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@Jolkona, #Give2ED).

Images by mikebaird.

A version of this blog was originally posted here.

In the early 1980s, doctors noticed an emerging threat to public health. Patients would arrive with severely compromised immune systems and become deathly ill from common infections. Thus, the HIV/AIDS pandemic was born and is now one of the biggest threats to human health.

Despite the progress made over the last thirty years in both treatment and prevention, HIV/AIDS continues to affect millions around the world. According to UNAIDS 2008 data, 33.4 million people worldwide currently live with HIV/AIDS. In addition, 2.7 million were newly infected that year. Combating HIV/AIDS is so important that one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), developed by the UN to produce better health outcomes worldwide focuses specifically on this disease.

At Jolkona, there are plenty of ways to fulfill this MDG goal. You can Give Care to HIV-Infected Cambodian Children, providing treatment and education to the 3,350 kids struggling with the disease. So far, through the efforts of donors like you, 6 children have had their nutritional needs met.

Another way you can help is by Giving Doctor Visits to Bangladesh’s Underprivileged, who will provide medical screening and healthcare for impoverished slum dwellers. One doctor has provided one week of health screenings for these people because of generous donations from the Jolkona community.

Children of Uganda is a great partner that provides support for youth affected by AIDS. For only $5 per child, you can Provide Healthy Meals to Ugandan Children, many who have been orphaned due to the AIDS pandemic. You can also Give Education to Ugandan Children and empower them to improve their lives and become future leaders.

HIV/AIDS is a global problem, impacting people from both developed and developing countries. It orphans children worldwide and decreases the quality of life for millions. The MDGs attempt to address these staggering statistics by focusing attention on the most crucial public health issues. By supporting these projects, you can ensure that we reach the MDGs by 2015 and put a stop to the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS.

“You are either affected or infected with HIV/AIDS” photo courtesy of Flickr User JonRawlinson under a Creative Commons License

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