January 5, 2012

Jolkona: Now we can all be philanthropists

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During the holiday break, Socialbrite is updating and republishing some of our most popular posts. We noticed that Jolkona is prominently featured in Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s new book, “Giving 2.0.” Our regular publication schedule resumes Monday.

Imet Adnan Mahmud, co-founder and CEO of Jolkona, during Beth Kanter’s book signing party for “The Networked Nonprofit” at TechSoup Global — and was immediately impressed by his seriousness and dedication to helping great causes through one-to-one philanthropy.

Support a library in Tibet that needs $50 to buy books, and you’ll get the list of books purchased through your donation.

Jolkona is at the bleeding edge of this phenomenon, which will become an increasingly important part of charitable giving in the years ahead, as young people in particular want transparency, interaction and accountability when supporting a cause.

Adnan says Jolkona is the first nonprofit “to give tangible feedback on your donation.” Kiva, which pioneered the technique, provides entrepreneurs with loans. And while nonprofits like charity:water and Global Giving often give updates on projects, Jolkona is positioning itself as a technology platform that enables one-to-one philanthropy for nonprofits of any size.

Watch, download or embed our interview on Vimeo

The year-old Jolkona — which means “drop of water” in Bengali (Adnan is a native of Bangladesh) — currently showcases 75 projects in 35 countries, including the United States.

Jolkona’s premise is simple but powerful: Support a library in Tibet that needs $50 to buy books, and you’ll get the list of the books purchased through your donation. Help people in Bangladesh and Myanmar get an artificial limb for $200 — $200! — and you’ll receive a before and after photo. In Iraq, you can save a girl from an honor killing for $120: You get the story of the girl you saved, though for security reasons they can’t supply a name or photo. And in the U.S., you can provide field trips to a classroom of disadvantaged children in Seattle.

In Iraq, you can save a girl from an honor killing for $120.

Says Adnan: “If you ask any nonprofit, Do you want to tell your supporters how their money was used, they’ll all tell you, Yes I do. But they don’t because they’re strapped for resources. Jolkona decided to come in and provide that technical infrastructure.

“Our focus is on youth philanthropy,” he adds. “We’re focused on galvanizing this next generation of givers. We’ve seen the frustration of this generation — that they don’t know where their money is going to. … We want people to feel that their [donation] can make a difference.”

It does, and the Jolkona team has gone out of its way to provide transparency and dispel worries that surfaced after it was revealed that Kiva wasn’t being forthright about its donations process.

Jolkona is now accepting nonprofit partners, though there’s a waiting queue. “If you are doing great work and are committed to showing impact, we are your best partners” as a platform solution, Adnan says.

JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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