Micro-granting organization provides dinner and instant funds to projects

Cincinnati SOUP, a new micro-granting organization, is helping fund ideas locally. But it’s not just a pitch night — it’s a community dinner where attendees provide a small donation and then get to vote on who receives the grant. The funding comes entirely from the night’s donations.
Unlike other funding avenues, presenters don’t need business plan, just a sustainable plan.
“Cincinnati SOUP is extremely grassroots,” Executive Director Herschel Chalk says. “Most of the presenters are community activists, and they have a small project coupled with a burning desire to make their neighborhood or city a better place to live and work.”
Cincinnati SOUP is based off the successful model of Detroit SOUP, another micro-granting dinner that celebrates and supports community initiatives and projects. Its mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.
“After seeing and hearing more and more about the Detroit concept, we felt that it was something that could work well in Cincinnati too,” Chalk says. “We figured it could be a great way to allow people to establish new relationships and networks, promote action and change, foster dialogue and instill neighborhood pride.”
For a donation of $10, attendees receive a dinner of soup, salad and bread. Before dinners, attendees listen to four project proposals that cover different topics, ranging from art and urban agriculture to social justice and technology. During the meal, votes are cast, and at the end of the night the winning project receives $8 from each attendee’s donation.
There have been three Cincinnati SOUP events so far, with the latest held on June 26 at the Kennedy Heights Cultural Arts Center. Past winners include Karen Davis of Storybook Entertainment, who received $780, and Hope Godfrey of The Butterfly Club, who received $1,120.
“SOUP doesn’t get involved in all of the minutiae and accepts people as they are, where they are,” Chalk says. “It’s based on a simple philanthropic recipe — bring a group of change agents and community activists together, and everyone goes home full, fulfilled and with a renewed sense of community.”
Stay tuned for more information regarding the fall Cincinnati SOUP event. Once it's announced, you can buy advance tickets here.

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.