Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Foundation for Small Causes

What’s the Awesome Foundation?  It’s not like George Constanza’s Human Fund, a scam or nonsense.  It’s really a giving circle, in which a group of people pools their contributions and decide amongst themselves what worthy cause will get the  money.  They take applications and decides to fund things that are, in their terms, “awesome.”  In fact, their slogan is “funding awesomeness $1000 at a time.” 

Unlike an IRS-sanctioned grant-giving foundation, they are not hemmed in by needing to give to 501c3 organizations or to do a prescribed sort of “due diligence” investigation, or to distribute the funds through a pass-through organization that has 501c3 status.  Recipients can be a group or an individual.  The various chapters of the Awesome Foundation look at a short, straightforward application, decide if it is awesome, and if they wish to fund it.  And by awesome, they don’t mean nice clothes or a MP3 player for the applicant.  They don’t spell out  what constitutes "awesome,” but believe as Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter believed about pornography, that they know it when they see it.  They don’t fund for personal use, the upkeep of established organizations, or vague ideas.  So what have they funded?

 According to their blog, they have funded a project to start urban farming in Los Angeles high schools, environmentally sustainable surfboards, and a collection of good literature in a public place that is more selective but just as non-monetary-based as a public library in San Francisco’s Mission District (Ourshelves), among other projects.

 In fact the Awesome Foundation has grown into a set of giving circles in over two dozen cities around the world.  Since it’s just individuals putting their money in a pot and making decisions, they can give money to causes that just need a short push to become reality, whether a group or individual has the correct IRS paperwork or not.  If you have an awesome project and a small amount of money might help, this could be a place to inquire.

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