Grants and other funding options
Get the money to make your dream project a reality.
Tue Mar 8 2011
The great idea: "My nonprofit group wants to promote its cause, but doesn't have a marketing budget."
The solution: LoudSauce (loudsauce.com)
What it is: Entrepreneurs Colin Mutchler and Christie George launched this crowd-funding organization last June, to bring grassroots media campaigns to popular advertising platforms, such as billboards, radio or TV spots, and magazine pages. Through its website, LoudSauce coordinates a collective donation process: Visitors can read about campaigns or watch teaser videos to learn what each proposal entails, how it would be rolled out and what the potential impact would be, then contribute to the ones they like via secure online systems. Every submission sets a time frame (usually two to six weeks) to meet its financial target, so applicants are encouraged to mobilize friends, family and supporters via social-media platforms and word of mouth. If the minimum financing is achieved, LoudSauce purchases the ad space from one of its media partners; if the goal's not met, donors receive full refunds.
How to get it: Submit your ad idea (a description suffices for the form, but you'll need a mock-up if you're accepted) through the Start a Campaign form at loudsauce.com. Your proposed spot should be able to fit a mainstream format (like a 30-second TV commercial or magazine page) and appeal to audiences beyond your current devotees. Since some of your success depends on growing an audience, you'll also need to demonstrate that you have the social-media skills necessary to help raise your campaign funds.
The great idea: "I have a tech company with a great product, but we need funding to get it off the ground."
The solution: NextPoint Partners (202-255-6964, nextpointvc.com)
What it is: This venture capitalist firm invests in technology companies that work in a wide variety of industries, but it focuses primarily on those with new strategies for the Internet and communications media. Nextpoint has backed ideas like XML development, ultra-wideband wireless technology and the e-commerce marketing company CampusU, Inc.
How to get it: Even if you're just starting out, e-mail your business plan to general partner Michael Faber (firstname.lastname@example.org). The firm believes every entrepreneur deserves a chance to be heard, but to actually receive funding you'll need to impress the partners with some serious dedication and focus. Though it's willing to invest in prerevenue companies, you should at least have a specific financial model if you want to be a legit contender.
The great idea: "I want to break into the magazine industry, but I can't afford to work as an unpaid intern."
The solution: Ed2010's Trust Fund (ed2010.com)
What it is: Since the staff of Ed2010 knows all too well what it's like to live in NYC on an intern's budget, the networking and mentoring organization awards $1,000 for living expenses to at least one up-and-comer each semester.
How to get it: If you're at least a college sophomore (or you graduated no more than two years ago) and you're interning at a publication recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America, follow the Trust Fund link on ed2010.com and fill out a plea for cash. You'll answer some basic questions (school status, internship and college publication background) and submit an essay that demonstrates your need and explains why you deserve the award.
Deadline: Summer interns May 30. Fall interns September 30. Spring interns January 30.
The great idea: "I have an art/film/dance/writing project I'm working on, but it's way too ambitious for me to afford alone."
The solution: NYFA's Artspire Fiscal Sponsorship Program (212-366-6900, artspire.org)
What it is: Individual artists can't have 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status, so most of the foundations and corporations that actually have the big bucks aren't able to fund them directly. Luckily, NYFA has a solution: Its Artspire program serves as a bridge between solo artists and those investors, providing starving artists with a way to approach otherwise inaccessible financial backers. Donors can sign checks to the NYFA with the stipulation that their funds be earmarked for your project.
How to get it: If you have a Social Security number, you're eligible for the program at no cost. You'll be asked to describe your project, estimate the budget you need to complete it and outline your fund-raising strategy. The panel that makes the final decision looks for professionalism, strong artistic intent and the likelihood that you'll actually be able to finish. It's a pretty competitive process, but sponsorship can have a significant impact: Artspire helped filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) early in her career.
Deadline: March 31
The great idea: "I'm a teacher and I want to give my students a project that will make them excited to come to class, but my supplies stipend barely covers the essentials."
The solution: ING Unsung Heroes (800-537-4180, ing.us/about-ing/citizenship/childrens-education/ing-unsung-heroes)
What it is: Each year, nonprofit group Scholarship America selects 100 K--12 educators to receive $2,000 grants from bank and insurance company ING. Those top 100 are then considered finalists for three additional grants awarded by ING's Educators Advisory Board ($5,000 for third place, $10,000 for second, $25,000 for first).
How to get it: In addition to basic information about you and your school, the form (available to download online) asks for essay responses to outline your project, describe how it will benefit your students and detail how you'll use any awarded funds. For instance, past winner Jeremy Stone dreamed up a program that turned teens into entrepreneurs; his students took produce from their school farm, created environmentally friendly products and sold the wares on campus and at local outdoor markets. The initial pool of around 1,500 contenders means competition is stiff—even for the $2,000 prizes.
Deadline: April 30