We’ve gotten some great questions about the Innovation Fund — while we can’t address questions about specific applications, here are some answers about the overall criteria and process.
What stage of startups will you support?
With this fund, we are looking to fill the very specific financing gap for early-stage organizations.
While we don’t have hard and fast rules about how long a startup needs to have been around, we look at where you are in your organization’s development. You should be past the “idea” phase, where you have run an initial test or begun to develop the first version of the product or solution to the problem you are trying to solve. If you are a well established organization with a large budget, where $10k – $25k won’t make a substantive impact, this fund is probably not the right fit.
We anticipate that this may be the first time some applicants are seeking outside funding, and that’s totally fine. We also know that many organizations exist in the “startup” bucket for a few (or more!) years until they are firmly established. We welcome you, too.
What kind of revenue models are you looking for?
Revenue streams we look for can be anything from a membership model, to a small-dollar donation program, to a more enterprise approach where you have paying customers. The key thing that we consider is an approach that goes beyond foundations exclusively– that you have a plan to develop a diversified and sustainable funding base to help you grow and scale. We think it’s important for startups to start thinking about a diversified funding base early on.
Is it ok to apply via our fiscal sponsor?
Yes! Totally fine. If you are a grant recipient, you will need to provide documentation of your fiscal sponsorship in addition to your fiscal sponsor’s IRS letter. Note that we encourage applications from both 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations.
Do you fund global organizations, or just US based?
For now, we are focusing on US based organizations.
I’ve got a great idea, but it is not media or tech based.
We are focused on media and technology efforts, so any project outside that niche is not a good fit for this fund.
How detailed does the budget need to be?
Budgets help us understand the nature of your organization, and the scope of work you are looking to take on. Just keep it simple. A basic breakdown of expenses and expected revenues (if they exist) is fine. Some organizations we’ve talked with already have significant revenue while others are just getting started. That’s also fine. In any case, it’s not necessary for the budget to go beyond the next 12 months.
I’ve got both a 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 — which should I select on the application?
The Innovation Fund is able to support both types of organizations, so select the option that represents the kind of funds you are seeking.