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Catalyst Criteria

The Catalyst Award programme is seeking to enable Fellows to test and grow their ideas to achieve a social benefit. All applications should demonstrate the following, which will be considered relative to the scope of the Award applied for. 

 1. Scalability and/or replicability 

Specifically, the possibility for growth and a plan to expand in future, or an intention to share learning, e.g. through the development of a toolkit.

 2. Social Innovation

For the purpose of Catalyst Awards, we look to the Stanford Centre for Social Innovation definition:

“A social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals.”

In the context of Catalyst, social innovation may be relative to a specific market, e.g. geographic location or industry.

 3. Sustainability: 

Each application should demonstrate the intention and plan for a project to continue beyond the life of the Catalyst grant.

    

 Specific criteria for the different kinds of Catalyst award: 

£1-2k applications

  • The project lead must be an RSA Fellow.
  • The project should align with one of the RSA’s three key themes.
  • Grants can be paid to individual Fellows, but where an organisation will receive funds directly, it must be structured as one of our fundable organisations.
  • The project must be in need of a financial boost to help it develop into a sustainable project.
  • The project must have the potential to achieve measurable social impact, even if this has not yet been tested and the grant is to help gather evidence for its positive impact.
  • A clearly apportioned budget breakdown should be provided.

 

£10k applications

  • The project lead must be an RSA Fellow.
  • The project should align with one of the RSA’s three key themes.
  • Grants can only be paid to fundable organisations aligned with the RSA’s charitable objectives.
  • The project must be established and have proof of concept (idea should have been tested and there should be documented evidence that its potential product or service can be successful).
  • The application must demonstrate a wider strategy for project growth. A strategy for growth should include a clearly identified market, reasons why this audience will purchase a service or product, and an understanding of the activities required to take the project to the next stage.
  • There should already be evidence that the project has been tested and should have a positive social impact. For £10k projects, the project should aim to increase its positive social impact.
  • A clearly apportioned budget breakdown should be provided.

These elements can raise questions in assessment panel meetings, so need to be carefully considered and fully justified in a Catalyst application:

  • Travel expenses - applications should demonstrate that these are integral to the success of the project rather than ongoing business costs.
  • Website development - applications should demonstrate that this is critical to the success of the project. 
  • Equipment - applications should demonstrate that the requested equipment is integral to the social change the project is aiming to achieve. 
  • Films or books - applications should demonstrate that these have a public reach beyond the duration of the grant and that there is a life to the project beyond the production of the film or book. 
  • Ongoing business costs - rent, wages, ongoing venue hire and business subscriptions are generally not fundable.
  • Salaries - these must be fully justified, directly relevant to the project or the testing of the idea, and must not constitute ongoing business costs. Applications where more than 50% of the total award is dedicated to salaries are rarely successful.
  • Marketing campaigns and associated printing costs - these must be fully justified, directly relevant to the project or the scaling of the idea, and must not constitute ongoing business costs. Applications where more than 50% of the total award is dedicated to marketing are rarely successful, particularly in the context of £10K Scaling awards.

Common application queries:

  • Applications may include the cost of events or expert costs associated with the trialling of an idea.
  • In the context of £10K Scaling Awards, applications may include budget to cover the cost of support to incorporate as a fundable organisation.

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If you have a specific question that hasn't been addressed here please see our FAQs for further information. Crowdfunding at the RSA is managed by the Engagement Team in the Fellowship Department, who you can contact directly with any questions about the application process for RSA Crowdfunding and support for Fellows’ campaigns.

Send a message to the team using engagement@rsa.org.uk, or call us on +44 (0)20 7451 6928.