The RSF Seed Fund provides small gifts (between $500 and $5,000) to seed new initiatives that fall within RSF’s mission statement; successful grantees offer innovative solutions to furthering the field of social finance, or address issues in one of our three focus areas (Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship). Grantees should demonstrate capacity for growth, and plans to reach financial independence.
The RSF Seed Fund is a modest-sized fund, which is supported annually by unrestricted gifts to RSF rather than from an endowment. Requests for grants far exceed funds available, so please ensure that your project meets the Eligibility Criteria below before submitting an online application.
RSF Seed Fund Eligibility Criteria
- Alignment with RSF’s mission and focus areas (please refer to the What We Value section of our website).
- Non-profit status: The RSF Seed Fund accepts proposals from organizations that are any of the following:
- 501(c)(3) tax-exempt per the IRS
- Fiscally sponsored with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status per the IRS
- Schools or universities
- Non-governmental entities, Indian tribes or tribal non-profit organizations, and territorial, tribal, or unit of local government entities
- New initiatives, defined for the purposes of this Fund as:
- Organizations in the first two years of operation;
- New projects or programs from existing organizations (NOT including projects that are expanding in geographic scope only).
The RSF Seed Fund will not award grants for:
- Multi-year operating needs
- Ongoing capital or capital projects and campaigns
- Travel, or attending conferences and workshops
- Foreign organizations – we will consider grants to U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations doing work abroad, but historically, many grants of this type have not been made
- For-profit companies
RSF Seed Fund Application Process
The deadline to submit a grant proposal to the RSF Seed Fund for the annual grant cycle is March 15th. Grants will be awarded by the end of May.
We will only accept applications submitted through our online system. If certain circumstances prevent you from submitting an application online, please email us at the address provided below to discuss other options.
Please be prepared to provide the following information as part of our brief online application:
- Description of organization including its history, mission and key programs
- Description of the project or initiative for which you are seeking support and how you plan to use the funds if awarded.
- Contact information, Tax ID (EIN number), amount of request, project or program budget amount, total organization budget amount, etc.
- Explanation of why you feel your project or initiative furthers the purpose of RSF (please visit the Purpose and Values section of our website)
- Copy of fiscal sponsorship agreement or letter submitted as an attachment (if applicable)
Proposals to the RSF Seed Fund will be considered in light of the following:
- Credibility, feasibility, and sustainability
- Fostering collaborative work
- Additional financial or volunteer support
- Intended results or outcomes
- Beneficial economic, ecological, and social impact
You will have the option to “Save and Finish Later” if you are unable to complete the application in one sitting. Look for that option on the bottom of each page of the online application. Note: you must advance to the next page of the application to save the previous page’s work.
Please do not call RSF to inquire about the status of your proposal. All applicants will be notified after the advisors to the fund have met to review the proposals. However, if you encounter technical difficulties using the online application system, please email us at email@example.com.
Proposals must be submitted by midnight on March 15th to be considered. After that time, the online application will not be available until January of the following year.
Selected grantees will be required to submit a report within a year of the date the grant was awarded.