Apply


 

About Spark’s Grantmaking


Spark provides grants from $1,000-$5,000 USD in grassroots women’s organizations working internationally and in our US chapter regions (New York Metro and San Francisco Bay Area).

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and grantees are selected by Spark’s Investment Committees in San Francisco and New York, comprised of young professional members who vote on qualified applicants.

 

Beyond the Dollar


In addition to grant funding, we offer pro bono professional services as requested by our Grantees. Typical requests include accounting, legal, marketing and web development support. Additionally, we provide consultancy on crowdsourcing, grassroots philanthropy, event-based or other types of fundraising, marketing, Board development, budget development, and volunteer management. We source these services from our network of young professional members.

 

Criteria


All Spark grant applicants are expected to meet these criteria to be considered eligible for grant consideration by the Investment Committee.

  • Addresses root causes: Spark takes a “human rights based approach” with its grant-making, supporting organizations engaged in addressing the root causes of challenges that women face internationally and in our local, chapter cities (San Francisco Bay Area and New York Metro). These challenges can include but are not limited to gender inequality, poverty, education, economic livelihood, and access to health resources.
  • Meets an unmet need: Does the organization provide a service that is not currently available to women in that geographic area?
  • Norm shifting and innovative solutions: The organization should improve women and girls’ livelihoods by challenging gender norms through inventive approaches.
  • Leadership comprised primarily of local women: The organization’s leadership should be comprised of at least 50% women from the community served.
  • Under $150,000 operating budget: The organization would benefit from Spark’s seed funding with an operating budget under $150,000 USD.
 

Priorities


In addition to meeting the criteria above, organizations with the following characteristics may be given priority during the selection process.

  • Belief in the Leader: As with most start-up endeavors, Spark shows favorable consideration to strong, passionate, persevering leaders with qualities that make us believe they will make their initiative a reality.
  • Risk-Taking/Entrepreneurial: Spark believes in funding organizations that are “taking a chance” to improve their local communities.
  • Beyond the Dollar: Would the organizations benefit from Spark’s pro bono services?
  • First Funder: Spark takes pride in being a “first funder” and being the “spark” for an organization to achieve long term success.
 

Application


If your organization fits the above grantmaking criteria and priorities, please fill out and submit the Grant Application below. Please feel free to use the downloadable version below to draft your application, but only the online application form will be accepted. Any questions can be sent to grants@sparksf.org.

GRANTMAKING AND APPLICATION FAQ*


*For 2016 Grant-making cycle

How do I apply for a grant? Complete and submit the Spark Grant Application.

What are grant applicant criteria? For complete details on criteria and priorities, please review Spark’s Grantmaking Criteria above.

What is the average sized organization of a Spark grantee? In most recent years, grants have gone to organizations with an average annual operating budget of $13,450 (for international organizations) and $38,200 (for US organizations).

Who should I submit the Application to? Please see Application section above.

Is there an application deadline? No, applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but those submitted by March 1st will have an increased chance of being considered during that grantmaking year.

What is the grantmaking process? Spark’s Investment Committee is a volunteer-based group of young professionals who are Spark members, with two chapters in San Francisco and New York. Spark staff will screen all applicants and select 3-4 qualified applications for the Investment Committee to further review and vote on at one of the approximately 8 voting meetings throughout the year. Applicants will be notified by Spark staff if their organization has been selected for Investment Committee consideration and a member advocate will reach out to the organization to request additional details to better represent the applicant during the committee review. Following the voting meeting, Spark staff will inform all applicants that were considered by the committee of the results, specifically if they were selected for a grant or not.

Spark’s democratic process allows all members to participate in the selection process and encourages best practices in responsible and effective grant-making.

When will I know if we were awarded a grant or not? You will be notified of your application status within 3 months of your submission.

How much is the typical grant? $3,000 USD.

When will the grant funds be distributed? Q1 (Jan-March) of the following year of award. Example: An organization applies for a grant in March 2015 and is selected by the committee for award anytime between March – October 2015. Spark will fundraise for the organizations grant throughout the year (2015) and all grantees selected in 2015 will receive funds no later than March 2016.

If we are selected for a grant, are there any reporting requirements? Yes, one annual report is required in December of the year in which the grant funds are received. Example: Grant applicant is notified of selection in 2015, grant funds are received in February 2016, annual report is due in December 2016.

What sort of pro bono services does Spark offer it’s grantees? We commit to providing pro bono professional services for our grantee partners. Grant applicants identify their service needs. Typical requests include accounting, legal, marketing and web development support. Additionally, we have provided consultancy on crowdsourcing, grassroots philanthropy, event-based or other types of fundraising, marketing, Board development, budget development, and volunteer management. We source these services from our network of young professional members.

If we are rejected for a grant, can we re-apply? Applicants can reapply once, submitted a revised application for consideration.