Microcharity Shows Donors the Money



In some ways, donating to a charity can be like cleaning a really dirty house: when a cleaning sesh provides really visible results, it provides a heightened sense of satisfaction, thereby encouraging future clean up endeavors. A remarkable new startup, the Jolkona Foundation, is banking on this parallel. The organization encourages young donors to give (even contributions as small as 5 dollars) by obviating the results of each donation.

The Washington State-based organization seeks to fulfill a simple mission: to “build awareness and mobilize our youth to support successful community development projects around the world.” SpringWise.com reports that Jolkona targets donors between the ages of 15 and 35, using technology and social networking to add a sense of “pop appeal” (and immediacy) to charitable giving. It also allows donors to see the small-but-collectively-potent impact of each donation – hence the organization’s name, which means “drop of water” in Bengali.

The process is relatively straightforward. Donors create an online account in the Jolkona system. They may then choose from a variety of projects, basing their choices on criteria such as location, price, and focus area (public health, education, environment, empowerment, or cultural identity). Donors contribute online (securely) via Google Checkout, and their monies are tracked henceforth; Jolkona informs donors of their donation’s impact through online photos, stories, and other means.

Jolkona is involved in a number of projects, ranging from the (fair) trade of products hand-crafted by Bangladeshi women to the sale of pottery hand-hewn by Nicaraguan potters. Recently, Jolkona even rewarded donors – and benefitted several Indian, Ethiopian, and Haitian communities – by planting trees in those areas (one tree for every supporter on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, for a total of 750 trees).

How is Jolkona able to sustain its operations? By its self-described “no-nonsense” approach. The Foundation minimizes costs by partnering with existing projects. It also depends on technology for marketing, fundraising, and follow-up – operations Jolkona pays for through the Kona Fund, which is supported by private corporate donations. Jolkona maintains donor satisfaction through transparent reporting and the giving of 100 percent of donors’ gifts to their chosen project.

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

2 responses

  1. GlobalGiving takes a similar approach. It seems the biggest difference is that Jolkona Foundation provides feedback for every donation whereas GlobalGiving provides feedback about the overall project and not for specific donations

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