The UnFundable Project

Last week, we closed the application period for Next Stage’s first grant process, The UnFundable Project.

We set out to celebrate our 10th Anniversary by granting $10,000 to a nonprofit for a project that has typically been viewed as “unfundable.”

This initiative allows us to go beyond expressing our belief in trust-based philanthropy to actually demonstrate how it works. Next Stage, a small company (with less than 10 full-time employees!) is setting an example of how profit and purpose, trust-based philanthropy, and community embeddedness can be done.

What We’re Learning

We’re proud to share that we had 44 applicants for the grant. All are small-to-midsize nonprofits that reported annual operating budgets between $0 and $4.5 million. Some requests include funds for staff wellness and professional development while others are looking for support for general facility maintenance that is long overdue. We are learning that these projects have been considered “unfundable” because the organization is new or traditional grantmakers exclude certain types of expenses.

As a company deeply embedded in the social good workings of our region, we were happily surprised to see several organizations we’re not familiar with turn in applications. It reminds us that there are layers to nonprofit work. We may more frequently hear about and see the activity of several well-known, larger nonprofits, but there are all sizes and types of nonprofits that matter to their communities. 

Next Steps

Our team will spend the next three weeks reviewing the applications and identifying the top 10 finalists. Our distinguished panel will then be determining the winner, to be announced in early 2024. We’ve never been so excited to give money away. Make sure you follow along to get updates on the process. 

 The UnFundable Project Panelists:

Valaida Fullwood, The Soul of Philanthropy

Don Jonas, Atrium Health

LeDayne Polaski, Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network

Manny Rodrigues, Broad River Retail

Nicole Storey, City of Charlotte

Martha Yesowitch, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library