Idea File: "Awesome" way to fund your innovation

If your New Year’s resolution was to make the everyday a little more awesome, check out today’s idea incubating model. Browse more Idea File posts here.

The idea

Every month, a group of 10 volunteer “micro-trustees” from a chapter of the Awesome Foundation each shell out $100 to fund an innovative idea in their city. While the criteria is vague and guidelines are generous to say the least, the overall goal is to fund new projects that make the world more fun and happy to live in. Who doesn’t want that?


Though this is just one street in Cary, NC, the folks from the foundation are dedicated to “forwarding the interest of Awesome in the universe, $1,000 at a time.” Photo by moonlightbulb (Flickr/Creative Commons).

So far, they’ve helped support everything from an Indiana Jones simulator in Washington, D.C. to a rooftop beekeeping venture in Melbourne to birdhouse-sized free libraries in Chicago. Anyone with a catchy idea and the gusto to see it through can apply.

Why we’re adding it to the Idea File

  • Philanthropy for the people. This crowdsourced model makes philanthropy accessible to anyone, and enables you to sidestep the complex bureaucracy of foundations when seeking funding.
  • Enticing and easy application process. Their lighthearted spin on submitting an idea is a welcome break from the usual dry, jargon-heavy grant applications.
  • Local ideas, local (free!) money. Here’s your chance to revisit those seemingly crazy ideas jotted on a napkin in your drawer, and make an impact where you live.
  • Community building. Being a micro-trustee gives you the opportunity to meet others, not to mention a direct connection to innovators in your area. Besides, imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re walking down the block and see your money put to good use?

How you can replicate it

Currently, there are 29 chapters from Berlin to NYC to Zurich. But they’d love to see more; email to get one going where you live.

If you don’t think being part of the Awesome Foundation is for you, try browsing their blog. You’ll find no shortage of inspiring ideas (like aMoment’s adorable art) to bring to your community.

Like this idea? You might also want to check out the One Percent Foundation and the Sunday Soup Network, or read our post about a secret society that tests the boundaries of philanthropy.

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