The UnFundable Project

A Grant Initiative Powered by Next Stage 


Next Stage will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2024! And to celebrate a decade of social impact work and partnerships, we want to give back to the community that has given so much to us. As a result, we’ve designed a grant-making initiative like no other – The UnFundable Project. 


What is it?

The UnFundable Project will culminate with one nonprofit organization receiving a $10,000 grant from Next Stage to support for a need or opportunity that would typically struggle to receive investment in a traditional grant-making process. Maybe it seems too frivolous to some or lacks data to back it up.

Why this type of grant? Because we are big fans of trust-based philanthropy. We’re partnering with the Charlotte Ledger to bring attention to the importance of trust in formulating social impact efforts.


Who’s it for?

Organizations must have 501(c)3 status and be legally registered in Mecklenburg County, or have the majority of their work occur in Mecklenburg County. There are no restrictions on budget size or mission, but preference will be given to organizations with less than a $5 million annual operating budget. Total project budgets must be at least $10,000 and must take place between March 1, 2024 and February 28, 2025.

While the project may be challenged to receive investment through traditional channels, it still must be a purposeful use of funding  (i.e. No setting fire to a pile of money.)


Who decides which organization gets the grant?

The Next Stage team, along with the following six panelists, who represent great work being done at the intersection of profit and purpose, will be reviewing submitted applications to determine the grant recipient.


How do I apply?

You can access the application here.

We’ve also included all of the questions below. You won’t be able to save an incomplete application online, so we recommend copying the questions and requirements below into a separate document to work on a draft. When you’re ready to submit, follow the link above and insert your answers.

  1. Please enter the point of contact details for this grant.
    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
    3. Phone Number
    4. Email Address
    5. Company Name
  2. What is your organization’s mission?
  3. Share the link to the organization’s website (or the point of contact’s LinkedIn page, if no website is available)
  4. What was your organization’s annual operating budget from its last complete fiscal year?
  5. What is the name of your UnFundable Project?  (Maximum 100 characters)
  6. Tell us about your UnFundable project. (Maximum 1,000 characters)
    1. Make sure you’re answering these questions:
      1. Why is your project considered “unfundable”?
      2. How does this project support your mission and/or vision?
  7. OPTIONAL: Video Upload
    1. If you would like to upload a video sharing details about your UnFundable Project, please follow this link. Videos must be no longer than 60 seconds and should be simple – there is no need to provide an edited, “produced” video.
  8. When will your project begin? (Must begin between 3/1/2024 and 2/28/2025. )
  9. When will your project end? (Must end before 2/28/2025. )
  10. What are the potential barriers to success and alternative plans to ensure project success? (Maximum 750 characters)
  11. Upload an Excel sheet with the budget breakdown for your UnFundable Project.
    1. The document must be in Excel format. The total project budget must be at least $10,000. The UnFundable Project will provide $10,000 in grant dollars and the organization must show a plan for covering the costs of anything above and beyond $10,000.
  12. What else should we know about your UnFundable Project? (Maximum 500 characters)


We can’t wait to see your submissions!

Key Dates

September 27
Application opens!

October 5
Zoom Office Hours
for applicant questions. Drop in anytime between 9 – 10:30 a.m. ET.

October 20
Any questions due to Next Stage by 5 p.m. No questions regarding the application will be answered after this date.

October 27
Application closes at 5 p.m.

December 1
Top 10 Finalists determined.

February 8, 2024
The UnFundable Project Celebration!
The grant recipient will be announced during a special event.

In Partnership With