Funding opportunities for social innovators are endless. If you have a good idea or a good ongoing initiative already, money can follow if you know where to look for. In this blog post we describe 8 funding opportunities for social innovators worth checking out. So, sit tight: we did half of the job for you!


Global Innovation Fund

The Global Innovation Fund is a suitable funding opportunity for social innovators who aim to tackle social issues in the developing world and improve the lives of millions. The Fund’s approach to investing is ‘that the best ideas for solving some of the world’s most critical problems can come from anyone, anywhere. We can fund innovations focused on any developing country and can invest in any sector relevant to international development where there is a commitment to improving the lives of those living on less than $5 a day’. So, how do they drive social impact? Well, The Global Innovation Fund is determined to support social innovators in all stages of investing, by offering loans (including convertible debt), grants and equity investments in a range of $50.000 to $15.000.000. Social innovators can request funding from the organization when working on critical projects that could bring a major social impact, because the Global Innovation Fund can back innovations with large scale. The funding is meant for ideas, projects, concepts that benefit the poor in developing countries. Interested? | Find more information here  |


The Young Foundation

The Young Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental think tank based in the UK specialising in social innovation against structural inequality. The foundation is a leading centre for social innovation and it tackles societal challenges by creating new solutions through social enterprises, movements and campaigns. The organization states that «we work with entrepreneurs with a great social business idea that they can demonstrate works. The organisations we support typically meet the following criteria: focus on changing peoples’ lives for the better (i.e. prioritise positive social impact), target customer groups inadequately served by existing private or public provision, disrupt existing markets by introducing more innovative or lower cost products or services, operate a robust, sustainable business model, have the potential to grow and broaden their social impact (UK wide or Worldwide) ». Are you interested in keeping up with the organization’s mission? To find more about the pioneering social innovation and investment work you have to get in touch with  James Teasdale (Head of Venture Development). Just drop him a message at| Find extra information here |



Nesta is a global innovation foundation that has as a mission to ‘seek out, spark and shape powerful new ideas, joining with others to take on the big challenges of our time and shift how the world works for everyone’. The foundation is located in the United Kingdom but works globally and always with the form of partnerships. They bring together the ‘very big, such as national governments and global technology firms, with the grassroots, such as community groups and local activists, to make change happen’. The charity has supported many projects so far and found itself among many success stories. Nesta is an expert on social innovation initiatives, which means that a social innovator wanting to apply for its grants or collaborate with it, would benefit greatly from such cooperation. Interested in finding more about the foundation’s work, becoming a partner or seeking for funding? Then you can directly request further information at | Find extra information here |


McConnell Foundation

The McConnell Foundation, which is a private Canadian foundation, works on developing innovative approaches to cultural, economic, social and environmental challenges. To address those challenges, it provides grants and investments for social innovation initiatives, such as capacity building, convening and co-creation with the grantees, partners and public. Its mission it to «engage Canadians in building a society that is inclusive, reconciled, sustainable and resilient—and that advances progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals». In order to deliver its mission McConnel Foundation created the Social Innovation Fund, which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacities to become capable of scaling greater impact. Are you living in Canada and want to make the world a better place? Don’t miss on this funding opportunity opportunity for social innovators and submit your proposal via their online portal!    | Find more information here |



Crowdfunding has emerged in the recent years as an important source for individuals, to raise grants and investments for the developing of business ideas or new ventures. People interested in the method can use online platforms to pitch their ideas on a proposed project to an online audience. The most famous platforms to seek crowdfunding investments are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These platforms allow backers (online audience) to contribute money in exchange for rewards. For social innovators, crowdfunding helps engage citizens in a conversation. In this way citizens are investing in their communities or in solutions for issues dear to their hearts. Interested in pitching your project for a social grant? Have in mind that some of the best platforms that promote initiatives for social good are CrowdriseOpenideo and | Find extra information here |


The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States and has a great legacy in global development philanthropy. Its stated mission is ‘promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world’. The private foundation has given more than $14 billion in current dollars to individuals that worked on projects that address societal challenges. Social innovators striving for the foundation’s support need to have thoughts on the greater good and have something catalytic to offer, if they want to get a shot at getting their hands-on Rockefeller’s money. The foundation’s current work focuses on fields such as Global Health, Climate & Environment, Urbanization and Social and Economic Security, as well as Basic Survival Safeguards. Do you think that you could be eligible for funding? Here is the site where you can directly submit your proposal. | Find extra information here |


EIB Social Innovation Tournament

The European Investment Bank offers the Social Innovation Tournament that aims in the support of Europe’s best social entrepreneurs. The tournament takes place in different countries each year and awards social entrepreneurs and innovators that come up with ideas and solutions, which have as a primary purpose to generate social, ethical or environmental impact. Every year 15 finalists are selected from hundreds of applicants across Europe working on education, health, environment, circular economy, inclusion, aging and environment. At the final event ‘all projects compete for the General Category and Special Category 1st and 2nd Prizes of EUR 50 000 and EUR 20 000 respectively. In 2018, the Special Category Prizes will go to projects focusing on sustainable development with special emphasis on circular economy.  Projects also compete for a residency at IRIS (Incubadora Regional de Inovação Social) and for numerous mentoring vouchers’. Are you ready to take up the challenge? Take note that you need to be familiar with the Rules and Key Dates & Deadlines for the applicants. | Find extra information here |


European Commission

The Commission promotes commercialisation and uptake of innovation through the Horizon 2020 programme and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). With the budget of EUR 80 billion, Horizon 2020 will help bring innovative ideas to life. ESIF will dedicate around EUR 110 billion to innovation activities, ICT, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) competitiveness’. In that aspect, social innovators can come up with ideas, concepts, projects or products that could lead to crucial social impact and alter the lives of millions. Individuals interested in finding funding opportunities for social innovators from European Commission programs have to submit their ideas based on specific programs. All you have to do is go to the online portal and find which program fits you best. | Find more information here |


Bonus item: MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challenge

The Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) is the flagship initiative of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE). In 2018, the IIC launched a global tournament (in five regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America), and seek applications from early and growth stage start-ups, and entrepreneurial organizations that are 1) using technology to reinvent work and create economic opportunity for working people below the top rung of the economic ladder; 2) demonstrating traction and impact and enhancing shared prosperity today; 3) are beyond the “idea phase”. Any age, size, or type (for-profit or non-profit with plan for financial sustainability) is welcome to[i] apply. For more information check out the webpage application deadlines are varying in each region’. | Find more information here  |


Did you find the information on funding opportunities for social innovators helpful? Well, the truth is that social innovators can choose among a great array of funding opportunities. In Social Innovation Academy we strive to improve the competences of teams behind social innovation ideas and initiatives that could bring essential social impact. The Social Innovation Academy  will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? Social Innovation has been increasingly perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to better future, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high quality training on what social innovation offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to become a member of our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here!



[i] Parts of this blog post have been originally published in an article by my Limitless colleague, dr Anita Fuzi

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Like what you read? Subscribe to the Social Innovation Academy newsletter to know when we publish something cool again.



+352 661 588 685


29 Boulevard Grand-Duchesse Charlotte, L-1331 Luxembourg city


18 rue des Près, L-8147 Bridel

Share This