Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign machine demonstrated to the nation how to successfully execute an Internet-based fundraising strategy. To the surprise of many, tens of millions of dollars poured in from groups and individuals — some giving as little as $5.
Well, the beauty of our online world is that it also provides. Money can come out of the Internet, too. That’s the way the new The Food Chapter of the Awesome Foundation works. The group, founded in Boston in 2009, is made up of individuals and groups (“Trustees”) who award a series of $1,000 grants to interesting projects and their creators.
The new Food Chapter just launched in mid-July and is currently accepting applications “to further food awesomeness in the universe through $1,000 microgrants given out once (or so) a month. Anyone can apply,” the website states. “And we interpret food in its broadest possible way, so use your imagination.”
Indeed, “food awesomeness” is a pretty broad term, and one would think anyone giving away money would want to know details, maybe review a business plan and look at marketing potential.
At Awesome Food, the Trustees ask only two questions: Describe yourself, your project, and how you'll pull it off… and, How would you use the money?
It’s easy to see this kind of free-wheeling, participatory online democracy as an exclusive creation of the Internet, and its billions of unseen denizens. But if one looks at the natural/organic food industry, they will find a number of important parallels.
For instance, many businesses in this space began small. We’re talking small as in kitchens, garages and backyards. One person with conviction and an idea.
Then, there’s the commitment and the passion that fuels these start-ups, whether they be retailer or manufacturer. These strongly-held beliefs of how food should be produced and sold often produce an environment of sharing, discussion and debate.
It’s interesting to note that, up until now, all the chapters of the Awesome Foundation were geographically based (mostly by city). The Food Chapter is the first subject-based subgroup to be formed. The choice of food says a mouthful about the general public’s interest in what they eat. The ideas you see presented on the Awesome Food site in the coming months might be tomorrow’s Bear Naked (purchased by Kellogg's); Burt’s Bees (acquired by Clorox) or Whole Foods Market. Are you watching, Big Business?
[Logo credit: Awesome Food Foundation]