Turning great ideas into action - RSA

Turning great ideas into action


  • Catalyst
  • Crowdfunding
  • Fellowship in Action

The RSA is committed to supporting projects led by Fellows to get started or to have greater reach and impact. We do this by providing £100,000 each year to Fellow-led projects through our Catalyst grants; offering crowdfunding support; and helping shape and share Fellows’ projects and ideas.

Core to the RSA’s mission since its foundation has been the desire to promote projects and initiatives that can tackle the challenges that face society. Over 260 years later this is still a key part of how the RSA, through our global Fellowship community, makes a real and meaningful difference to society.

In order to do this, we would like to learn more about the projects that Fellows lead or are involved in, and we are asking you to share your experiences with us. By hearing from you in this way we can continue to celebrate your activities while ensuring that our offer to those projects is as good as it can be.


Where we need your help!

We would love to hear about your projects. What are you working on, running, or growing? What are your plans for the future? We have a very quick survey to help us get a snapshot of your projects. If you would like to feed into this survey please do this by 21 August 2018. This will help us get a better picture of what is out there and shape our thinking about current and future project support. It’s not a beauty competition or application form – let us know about your project in your own words

We will use this information to reflect on our project support offer and to help shape our thinking on how we celebrate all of the activity and passion that exists within the Fellowship.


What did we learn last year?

Last year was the first survey of this nature, we had over 130 responses from all around the globe and the insights from that have helped us develop our work with Fellows’ projects:


About Fellows’ projects:

  • The sheer breadth of activity was incredible – this should come as no surprise, we know the Fellowship is a rich and varied network, but it is still useful to be reminded of this. Projects ranged from tours of London’s public loos, to instilling innovation into the police service, to an online history of HIV, to community events and so on!
  • Local community and place was an important theme – a substantial proportion of projects were focused on a specific local community or place. I am particularly excited about our new partnership with Spacehive – a crowdfunding platform dedicated to projects that improve local places and spaces as part of the RSA’s updated crowdfunding offer.
  • Growth and scale - the vast majority of Fellows who responded to the survey last year were aiming to grow their projects which is good news as all our Fellow-led project support is geared to catalysing growth. We also launched a new programme this year – Transform – which now means we have an even wider project support offer. So, whether your project is looking to get off the ground, grow to the next level, or create change on a national scale, we may be able to support you to achieve that growth.
  • Not all change is project based - a smaller number of Fellows came back to us saying that they do not run projects as such, but do work that contributes to positive social change. For example they may work in the public sector or in a larger charity. Or they are organising one-off activities or events rather than ongoing initiatives. All of these different routes to creating social change are incredibly valuable. It is true that our current project support work focusses on a specific type of activity, but we will continue to assess if that is the approach with the greatest potential impact. If your work does not fit within the scope of our project support then there are other ways to engage with the RSA and Fellowship network. Do check out what activity is happening in your local area to find out more.


In terms of what the projects hoped to get from the RSA the top three were:

  • Networks – Fellows described how access to support, insight, board members, volunteers, etc from the wider Fellowship network could have a significant role in helping their projects grow. To get the most from this network do take a look at what activity is happening in your local area or get in touch with your local Area Manager. You can also connect to Fellows from further afield through the MyRSA platform.
  • Funding – Another common answer for how the RSA could support Fellows projects was through funding. The RSA provides grant funding to projects led by Fellows. We have two grants – Seed grants (£2,000) and Scaling grants (£10,000). You can find out about some of the projects that we have supported by reading their blogs on our website. But of course, this will always have an upper limit. We also encourage Fellows to consider Crowdfunding for their projects and have recently produced guidance on how we can help.
  • Insight from experts – a few respondents hoped that staff at the RSA (particularly our researchers) could provide expert insight into their projects, for example reading their proposals and reports, comment on viability, or joining boards or advisory groups. This is something we have to consider how to best deliver within our resources. Whilst we at the RSA have a clear desire and mission to support Fellows projects, when the Fellowship outnumber staff almost 300 to one we will always need to focus our time and resource on a smaller number of projects. We mainly do this through our Catalyst, Crowdfunding, and Transform programmes rather than through ad hoc or one-off advice and support. But don’t forget the wider Fellowship network and reaching out to them too.


What else can we do to support your project?

If you would like more information about how we can support your projects then do take a look at our project support webpages or email [email protected].

To take part in our Fellow led project survey please complete our online survey by 21 August 2018. We will respond to all survey respondents by the end of August.

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