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The Audacious Project

Imagine being able to receive funding for your work while also elevating your brand. That’s precisely what The Audacious Project offers. According to their website, the Audacious Project “is an initiative that shows what humanity can accomplish when bold ideas meet visionary, generous supporters.” It aims to surface and fund big and bold ideas to solve global problems. Formerly known as “TED Prize,” the Audacious Project creates a partnership amongst some of the biggest names in philanthropy including TED, Virgin Unite, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and more.

Ideas from teams backed by a nonprofit, NGO, or institution that are selected by the Audacious Project get to promote their work at a TED Talk, get publicity from the Audacious Project and its partners, and millions in funding for 3-5 years. The application process involves a simple, 350-word proposal for an organization’s big, problem solving idea. With such a simple application process and thousands of worthy applicants, the review and selection process is, of course, pretty rigorous. That’s why it’s so vital that you must have a deep understanding for your brand’s story and mission. Even if you’re not backed by a nonprofit, NGO, or research institute and are unable to apply for the Audacious Project, your message still must be up to the task when opportunities like it appear in your industry. WIll it be? Rivers Agency has a team of talented writers and expert strategists who can identify a brand’s core values and win the world over with its story; we’ve compiled for you a list of key ideas to keep in mind when attempting to do so.

The Audacious Project identifies two key components that make an idea “Audacious.” Your idea must inspire and convince.


Ted Talk

Inspiration leads to motivation which leads to action. To inspire your audience means to ignite an emotional spark that is not easily snuffed out; inspiration is a strong connection. The Audacious Project website defines an inspiring idea as one that offers a bold and original solution to a problem, proposes a quick leap forward in progress on the problem, and appeals to the Audacious Project’s philanthropist partners. Even if you are not applying to the Audacious Project, the tenets of having a unique offering, justifying its existence in a memorable way, and identifying who your brand helps is key to any successful campaign. In 2019, the Institute for Protein Design was able to secure $45 million in funding from the Audacious Project for presenting their transformative idea of being able to engineer actual, organic proteins to use in medicine and explaining why they felt philanthropy was the best way to fund this effort. Do an internal audit, research your competition, identify and study your target audience to find their needs to make sure your brand is as inspirational as it can be.


One Acre Fund

This seems a little straight forward doesn’t it? After all, the heart of making a pitch is convincing someone to buy in. It’s the root of any effective persuasive rhetoric. But how do you make your brand’s mission, your ‘audacious idea,’ an inherently convincing one? The Audacious Project website describes a convincing idea as one that is properly researched with citable evidence and a clear timeline with definable outcomes. The key ideas here are trust and accountability. Many successful campaigns often have authoritative testimonials, endorsements, and/or success stories that can be referred to so that the audience can trust the product/service can actually perform as expected. What form that takes is dependent on the industry you are presenting in. In the case of Audacious Project proposals, more academic and scientific research is the way to make your case. Just look at 2018 awardee One Acre Fund. They presented research dating back to 2006 showing how their model of equipping farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa with their five tools and techniques “enables over one million families each year to increase their income on supported land by over 40%.” Food and beverage promotions sometimes need celebrity endorsements, film and tv promotions sometimes need positive reviews from critics and audiences, and philanthropic efforts need research with presentable data. Study your industry and its culture, learn what kind of proof cultivates trust and shows accountability to that industry’s audience, and do the dirty work to get that proof so you can add it to your pitch.

The Audacious Project, along with all the good it’s done for the world, reminds us of the importance of understanding our brand’s values, mission, and story. Whether you’re applying for a globally-recognized grant, vying for a local award, or making a standard campaign – it will be your ability to inspire people with your brand and clearly define your goals that will determine your success.

Looking for an award-winning agency to tell your brand’s story clearly and put you over the top? Rivers Agency is a full-service digital advertising agency with extensive experience and expertise in all things creative. With a comprehensive suite of advertising services, Rivers is a leading agency in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill areas of North Carolina. Our team of marketing experts works collaboratively with your brand to take your advertising initiatives to the next level. Let’s get started!

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