INFORMATION FOR GRANTSEEKERS

Grantseekers should read through the below sections before considering applying.

WHAT WE FUND & WHAT WE DON’T

We appreciate that time spent on grant applications is time not spent on your work. We don’t want you to make the effort to apply for a project we can’t fund! Please read this to make sure your project fits the criteria.

We cannot fund projects outside of our scope.
  • WE DO FUND early stage organizations and projects. We offer grants to innovative and important work that has not yet established broad sources of support. For Sparkplug, what matters is that the project comes from and supports an engaged community.

  • WE DO FUND small-to-medium organizations or ideas. We most often fund projects with small budgets, and that are less likely to receive corporate, institutional, or government funding.

  • WE DO FUND 501c3 non-profits or individuals, communities or collectives that have a US-based 501c3 fiscal sponsor. For more information on finding a fiscal sponsor please see the FAQs section below.

  • WE DO FUND materials and activities that make new ideas real and sustainable. This can include support for a new organization’s growth like outreach materials, short-term staff to get your project underway, and short-term general operating support for new organizations only. We have very occasionally funded website development or software purchases where it drives other work. A grant can cover capacity-building expenses like trainings that grow your community leadership.

  • WE DO FUND one-year grants. Since we focus on start-up projects and organizations, we accept applications for up to one year. If you're a new organization interested in a start-up grant that spans beyond one year, you are invited to note that on your application - but can only apply for one year of funding. We'll be in touch if we think we can do more.

  • WE DO FUND with an eye for community accountability and inclusion. We recognize that power imbalances in the world impact how work happens in any organization. Power imbalances shift how people within organizations interact, and how organizations’ work affects others in their communities. Community accountability means that power imbalances are acknowledged within an organization (this goes beyond having a diverse board or team), that organizations have made an effort to understand how power affects their work, and that some ongoing means of addressing power imbalances are in place. Inclusion means that the organization deliberately structures itself to be guided by, and to support, people on the downside of power imbalances.

  • WE DO FUND projects in the US and Palestine/Israel. Our funding in Palestine/Israel, given current conditions of colonial apartheid, is limited to projects that involve Palestinian communities, operate with Palestinian leadership (and may also include non-Palestinian leadership), and work for justice.

  • WE DON’T FUND fund businesses or any organization or individual without a fiscal sponsor.

  • WE DON’T FUND general operating expenses such as regular ongoing salaries, office space rental, etc., except for start-up projects and start-up organizations.

  • WE DON’T FUND lobbying or election campaigns.

  • WE DON’T FUND technology equipment such as computers, printers, etc.

  • Under the Education Funding Area: WE DON’T FUND budget replacement for classes or programs within the formal education system that have been cut. Click here learn more about the projects we do fund under the Education Funding Area.

  • Under the Community Organizing Funding Area: WE DON’T FUND service projects. We only fund projects that are designed, led, and implemented by members of the affected community AND that aim to change systems and shift power. We do not fund projects that provide aid. Click here learn more about the projects we do fund under the Community Organizing Funding Area.

  • Under the Music Funding Area: WE DON’T FUND budget replacement for music programs in the education system suffering from budget cuts. Click here learn more about the projects we do fund under the Music Funding Area.

  • WE DON’T FUND multi-year requests. We accept applications for one-year grants. If you're a new organization interested in a start-up grant that spans beyond one year, you are invited to note that on your application. We'll be in touch if we think we can do more.

  • WE DON’T FUND projects or organizations in Palestine/Israel that do not have either a US-based 501c3 fiscal sponsor or Israeli documentation of NGO status.

  • WE DON’T FUND religious projects, projects run by religious organizations, or any project that involves religious practice, no matter how peripheral religion is to the project. We also do not fund projects that limit their work to a religious community.

  • WE DON’T FUND fund visual arts projects, films, medical research or relief, dance, animal rescue, athletic programs, tuition grants, or scholarships.

  • WE DON’T FUND fund university-based projects.

  • WE DON’T FUND any projects or organizations with budgets larger than $1 million. Chapters of national organizations should not apply if their national organization’s budget is greater than $1 million.

Areas of funding

Click the icons below to learn more about our three thematic areas of funding and what qualifies for grants under each.

COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: In the Community Organizing category, Sparkplug funds work by members of a community for their community -- work that aims to create justice by making systemic change and/or shifting power. Or in other words, we fund projects that are created, run by, and meet the needs of people with shared lived experience who face the same types of oppression, discrimination, violence, or barriers, who live in the same area, or who have a shared vision and aspirations for the future.

For example, We DO fund projects created and led by LGBTQ youth to change policies that affect them, but we DON’T fund programs that provide social services for LGBTQ youth.

Some other examples of community organizing that we have funded in the past include:

A farmworker-led campaign against deportations and for access to drivers licenses for undocumented people.

Training community members as housing organizers as part of a campaign to build their leadership capacity and win local housing justice.

Support to frontline communities in energy democracy organizing.

A COVID-19 related mutual aid and advocacy project by and for people experiencing homelessness.

Faqs

Click on the questions below to learn more information about our grant process.