Random Swings of Joy in LA, A Cardboard Fort Night in Toronto,honey on the rooftops of Melbourne’s CBD and A home-made cotton candy cannon in Boston. What do thesethings have in common? Apart from these ideas all being really awesome,
They are all micro-grant recipientsof The Awesome Foundation. So, The Awesome Foundation provides $1000 in cash as a nostrings attached grant to people who have ideas that will make the world more awesome. Yes, seriously there are absolutely no strings attached.
And Yes, we seriously give away 1000 dollars in cold hard cash every month. It’s an experiment in guerilla funding to make the world more awesome. We don’t take any sort of ownership of ideas or own IP – we just give you the cash to make your idea a reality.Originating in Boston in 2009,
we’ve now grown to 23 chapters around the world, with absolutely no central location or head office. The chapters are based either on location – such as Sydney and Melbourne – or around an interest, like Food. There’s no limitations to the type or location of our chapters and we actively encourage people to start new chapters.
The whole point is that we are all extremely passionate about growing our cities’ levels of local awesomeness. So as one of the trustees of Awesome Foundation Sydney, my goal is to seek out and support Sydney’s awesomeness. The idea behind the foundation is that big ideas can get funding through charities, angel investors or loans.
However smaller, long tail ideas may not have as much support to receive money as people don't want to invest in an idea that doesn’t have a massive profit. By only providing $1000 grants, people with smaller ideas have the opportunity in a low risk environment to make their ideas a reality.
Because everyone cares about something - no matter how small and it's just as important to support these ideas, as you never know what may happen to them in the future. Past grant recipients have ranged from public artwork to mobile apps to scientific experiments – so the only limitation is your imagination.
But what is really fantastic is that in all the different chapters around the world, the Awesome Foundation has been able to support two hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of these small ideas towards increasing awesomeness. So how do we get the $1000 in cash every month for these grants? Well a very diverse group of ten trustees,
not too dissimilar to these guys, come from different backgrounds and different corners of Sydney to unite and donate $100 of their own, non-tax-deductable cash towards the grant every month. By the trustees actively funding the grant every month, It means we have a vested interest in what idea we choose.
So once every month, we meet up at a different Sydney restaurant and while having a totally awesome dinner, we read through the applications we receive and discuss whether we think they should receive a grant from the Awesome Foundation. After we’ve collectively decided on the most awesome application that month, We meet up
with the recipient and deliver them the one thousand dollar cash grant in a brown paper bag – which has been a tradition since the foundation started. This is a photo of the girls from Pan Magazine, a literary bi annual magazine, after I delivered them their grant last month so they could print their second issue.
So surely if we’re dropping $1000 a month based on an application, we should have a pretty good idea of what is awesome. Not really, because everyone has their own definition and perspective. When the Sydney chapter first started back in March, we had to spend an entire dinner trying to establish how we would define awesome.
For example, anyone who has met me will know that I think that Nyan cat is the greatest thing ever – but some of the other trustees think it’s absolutely terrible. But by having a diverse group, it means that we have a range of perspectives to determine a collective definition of awesome and how it applies to each application we receive.
But what we all agree on is that awesome things contain the mystical element of awesome. You can tell if something is awesome immediately by looking at it – and it’s really intangible and hard to define why it is, but you just feel it. Awesome is also really abundant, and everyone has a bit of awesome in them. So it’s up to the Awesome Foundation
To find this in people and help them unleash their awesomeness on the world. If I can be part of something that can help encourage small awesome ideas to become a reality, then this can help spread awesomeness particles around the world. And people who have awesome smaller ideas are more likely to have bigger world-changing ideas.
Which is why we have our own Kickstarter page. Kickstarter is a site that lets you crowdsource funding for big creative projects that need more than $1000. By having our own page we can promote and support previous recipients in launching their big world-changing ideasd. So those ‘Random Swings of Joy’ that were funded in LA?
They used Kickstarter to raise over $11 000 to set up the swings in Bolivia.When they went over, they discovered that although adults used the swings in LA, Bolivian children were using them more. Because kids start work when they’re young, the swings brought them back to a childhood that they never had.Apart from being awesome, this idea
Was bringing Joy to the children. And at the core of everything that is part of the awesome foundation, it is about bringing joy and happiness to people by providing opportunities to that they wouldn’t necessarily get through their day to day life. You can experience joy through receiving a grant or by being a part of an idea that we’ve supported.
So how can you get involved? Like I said before, everyone has a bit of awesome inside them, and if you think your awesome idea is ready to be unleashed on the world, apply for a grant by explaining how $1000 will help your idea and who knows, you might receive the fundingto make it a reality.
So seriously – what are you doing that’s awesome? Thanks very much.
@awesomefoundsyd<br />Sources:<br />LA Swings: http://on.fb.me/LASwings <br />Cardboard Fort Night: http://bit.ly/FortNight<br />Cotton Candy Cannon: http://bit.ly/CottonCandyCannon<br />Rooftop Honey: http://RooftopHoney.com.au<br />Pink Saurornithoides by Craig Dylke used under creative commons: http://bit.ly/pZcKJt <br />Cat Photo: http://bit.ly/nk8C8A <br />Swings in Bolivia Kickstarter: http://kck.st/oDoOFP <br />Lord of the Rings Cast Photo (c) 2002 New Line Products Inc. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers and the characters, events and places therein are trademarks of the Saul Zaentz Company D/B/A Tolkien Enterprises under licence to New Line Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.<br />Thanks to Awesome Foundation Sydney, Zac Davies, Stephen Lead , Ignite Sydney and Presentation Studio for your support.<br />