Are you awesome? The Awesome Foundation Sydney wants to give you $1,000, no strings attached

Somewhere out there, there ought to be a self-organising group of people who want to make a small difference to the awesomeness of the world by backing small, creative, unconventional ideas which won’t be successful raising capital from investors or applying for a grant.

There is, and it’s called The Awesome Foundation.

The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time.

Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants of $1,000 (or the local equivalent) come out of pockets of the chapter’s trustees and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.

Defining “awesome”

Every chapter interprets “awesome” for itself. As such, awesome projects include initiatives in a wide range of areas including arts, technology, community development, and more. Many awesome projects are novel or experimental, and evoke surprise and delight. Awesome sometimes challenges and often inspires .

There are no official rules for what makes a successful application to the Sydney chapter of the Awesome Foundation. But over the years I’ve observed that we prefer applications which satisfy these criteria:

We often get applications from people who’d like us to fund the cost of their gallery exhibition, or pay for them to attend a conference. We don’t rule that out, but you need to explain how that personal benefit will go on to benefit your community. We prefer that it be a local community, rather than the nation or the whole world, because we believe $1,000 can make a bigger impact on a smaller group of people, and because local community projects suffer more from under-funding.

We like to see applications for ideas that can feasibly be executed with a $1,000 budget. The $1,000 comes right out of the personal savings of the trustees, and none of us are multi-millionaires, so we like to know that your project is actually going to happen. That’s less likely if our $1,000 is just part of a $10,000 project budget.

Again, it’s our own personal money, so we don’t think we’re asking too much of you to submit an application which includes a sensible, itemised budget. It doesn’t have to be a six-tab spreadsheet but a few bullet points would be great.

Find a way to cut some of your costs by counting on the skills of generous friends and colleagues, and you’ve got our attention. We’re not going to pay for a web designer to create your website, when free, easy solutions exist that don’t require any coding skills, and nearly everybody has a friend who can code/design. We’re also not going to pay for your Kickstarter video, photography, or graphic design. We want to fund your cool project, not pay for the marketing of it.

Good funding sources already exist for many kinds of project; Awesome Foundation Sydney exists to fund the misfits, the outliers, the unconventional and the slightly crazy. We have a solid history of funding zany ideas, including a detailed recreation of 1980s aerobics classes, a giant outdoors foosball competition, and a huge celebration of hula-hoop dancing. We love to fund projects that get a positive emotional response from the trustees because they’re also likely to make a local community happier. So make us laugh and you’re ahead of the pack.

What are my odds?

Very good. Most months we receive less than 20 applications, sometimes only 10 or so. We’ll either choose the best application on the night, or defer until next month if there’s no application that is close enough to meeting our informal criteria. Many of our successful applicants have resubmitted their application with some feedback from us and gone on to be selected in subsequent months, and some of our applicants get recommendations from us about how and where to apply for more traditional funding that can help you.

If you’re the successful applicant we’ll call you as soon as the decision is made to let you know (and we’ll all clap and cheer on the phone call with you) so keep your mobile on and nearby around 8pm for the announcement. If you’re unsuccessful, we’ll let you know the following day by email.

What was the last funded project?

Our Awesome Foundation Sydney October Grantee was YAMP — a wonderful initiative to empower young Aboriginal mothers through art and connection. Next Monday 9th November we meet to review our applications and choose a grantee for this month. It could be you…

How do I apply?

There are only seven questions and the first three are your name, email address and phone number. It’s not rocket surgery and it’s not War and Peace. Apply now: http://www.awesomefoundation.org/en/submissions/new

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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