Unorthodox Philanthropy’s primary goal is to support efforts that can result in large-scale improvements in human welfare with finite philanthropic capital. Ideas can be at any stage of maturity and pertain to any issue, sector, or geography. They must:
Create transformative impact: Ideas should have the potential for a big and sustained social return, regardless of financial return.
Use a finite amount of philanthropic capital: Ideas should have high fixed costs, low or no marginal costs, and a clear path to implementation and scale beyond our initial investment.
We have a preference for unorthodox ideas that are not attracting sufficient attention and resources elsewhere. We evaluate submissions based on breadth and depth of impact, plausible pathway to scale, and the absence of alternative funding at present.
Submissions are also evaluated based on the team involved in driving the project – leadership is just as important as the idea itself. While we are open to opportunities for which UP funding helps a team coalesce around an idea, at least one committed and passionate champion must be present at the start.
We believe the idea itself, and not the grantor, should define the size of the award. Proposals selected to become Unorthodox Philanthropy awardees will be funded according to their specific need, whether $50,000 or $5 million. We recognize the a vehicle for social change may take many forms and are open to making either grants and/or investments to both non- and for-profit entities.
For projects that require more than $1 million, funding will be scaled in as milestones are met. We recognize that the total amount of funding required may exceed what UP alone is able to provide, so in cases where UP support might unlock additional funding, awards may be structured as contingent commitments.
UP has set a minimum level of giving of $3 million, coupled with a new default option. Read more about that here.
**Please note that UP is temporarily suspending acceptance of new submissions as we develop our response to COVID-19.** For more information about applying, see our Additional Guidance and FAQs.