Applicants often have questions about the Ideas that Matter program and the judging criteria for awarding grants.

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions. Contact us via email or the address and phone number listed below if you are looking for more specific information, or apply today at www.sappi.com/ideas-that-matter-call-for-entry.

General Questions Back to top
What is Sappi’s relationship to the Ideas that Matter program?

Sappi funds and oversees the program as part of the company’s commitment to the design industry and the communities in which designers live and work. Sappi manages, promotes and collects grant applications and also administers funds once they are awarded by the judges. Sappi gives no input in the selection of grant recipients—that process is the sole responsibility of an annually-selected team of judges.

Can a proposal benefit a project overseas?

Yes, your proposal can address an overseas concern. However, the nonprofit that you are partnering with must have nonprofit status in North America.

Is this a design competition?

It is not a traditional design competition. While the judges recognize the role that good design plays inspiring people to take action, each application is evaluated according to how well the proposed project will support and extend the mission of the nonprofit. The effective use of design is an important consideration as it pertains to the audience it is intended to reach.

Grants and use of funds Back to top
What can the grant money be used for?

Grant money can only be used to complete the project you have proposed and for specific components you have outlined in your budget. Grant awards may be used for implementation and out-of-pocket costs including photography, illustration, artists, writers, outside copywriting, paper (please specify a Sappi product), printing, mailing, advertising, distribution, and website hosting for the selected project as well as a design honorarium for up to 10% of the total value of the grant request. You must adjust your costs so the combination of the honorarium and all other costs do not exceed the $50,000 limit.

What if I need to change specific components of my project?

Once you are in production, if you find it is necessary to adjust specific components of your project, please contact Sappi in advance to discuss the changes. Typically, as long as you stay within the overall project budget and the project deliverables remain the same, Sappi is happy to support changes.

Can the grant money cover “overhead” or “indirect” costs?

No. Grant awards cannot be applied toward indirect costs such as travel, hardware, fiscal sponsor fees, or overhead elements such as computers, staff salaries, accounting costs or rent.

Can some of the grant money be used to compensate the designer applicants for their time?

Yes. Your budget may include up to 10% of the overall cost of the project as a design honorarium. You are not required to include this amount in your grant request, or you may choose to include an amount less than 10%. Your application will not be judged based on the honorarium amount you decide to include. You must also adjust your costs so the combination of the honorarium and all other costs do not exceed the $50,000 limit.

Can the Ideas that Matter grant be used to pay for copywriting or photography?

Yes, the grant can be used to pay for outside copywriting or photography. Those costs are considered direct costs. The costs of these specific services should be included in the itemized budget you present with your application.

Is media outside of print eligible for the grant?

Yes. The proposed project does not have to be 100% print although at least a portion of the project must be printed. Appropriate outside media can include an online presence, a billboard, a bus poster, etc.

What other services can be included in the budget proposal?

All outside production costs can be included in the budget proposal including costs for photography, copywriting and distribution. You may also include the cost of illustration, paper, printing, mailing, buying ad space, and related expenses for the selected project as well as up to 10% of your budget for a design honorarium.

Can I request funds to cover reprinting of a previously designed piece?

Costs of previously designed pieces which are to be reprinted can be part of your grant proposal if they are also part of your new proposed project. You may not submit an application exclusively for reprinting an existing piece.

Does the project need to include printed media? Do I need to specify Sappi paper in my proposal?

The proposed project must use some printed media. Sappi paper products should be the dominant stock for the printed component of your project. A portion of all applications should be printed materials.

How much money can we request?

Grants range from $5,000 to $50,000. The amount awarded is based on the detailed breakdown of the proposed project’s budget needs.

Would I have a better chance of being awarded a grant if my application were for a lesser amount (i.e., do $5,000 grant requests get funded more than $50,000 grant requests)?

No. The budget should realistically reflect the scope of the project. The judges review the amount requested against the proposed end results, choosing projects that will make a difference.

How many grants are typically awarded?

The number of proposals that receive funding vary per year, depending on the amount of funds the selected proposals have requested. The range of grants given tends to fall between 10 and 30 annually.

How is the grant money distributed?

All grant money is paid through a Purchase Order system managed by Sappi and based on the grant applicant’s proposed budget and the amount of money the judges allocated to the project. Grants are not paid out as a lump sum. Upon winning the grant, Sappi opens a Purchase Order for the granted project. As expenses for the project are incurred, either the designer or the nonprofit must submit a request for payment on official letterhead, along with the supporting invoice(s).

Will the grant money be guaranteed for as long as it takes me to complete the project?

No. The grant is guaranteed for 6 months from the start date of the project. On a case by case basis, extensions are allowed and must be approved by Sappi. Once the budget year has ended the grant money is no longer available for use.

What do judges look for in a winning proposal?
  • A personal passion for the cause. The most compelling proposals are those that show real familiarity and commitment to the goals of the nonprofit. This goes beyond repeating the organization’s mission statement verbatim. Whether the cause is feeding the homeless, saving endangered animals or promoting arts programs for children, the judges want to know that the applicant understands and cares about the issues the nonprofit is trying to address.
  • A strong, thoughtfully conceived idea. Is your proposed plan for supporting this cause a brochure, a bus shelter poster, or an installation art project? The idea should be developed far enough to submit thumbnail sketches, full-scale comps, or other supportive visuals, in addition to a written description of the concept.
  • A detailed production plan and demonstrated skills to execute it. Even the best ideas will fail without the skills to execute them. Winning proposals identify production steps, a timeline for completion, and a budget for costs.
  • Clear explanation of intended results and who will benefit. It is not enough that the applicant knows how to create and produce a brochure or other type of design project. Judges need to be convinced that the program is necessary and will deliver the intended results for the nonprofit. For example, sending needy kids to camp may be the goal. Producing a brochure to raise funds is the means. The proposal should define how your project fits into the larger scheme, figures into a campaign and, ultimately, supports the mission of the organization and benefits the nonprofit’s constituency. For example: this fundraising material will generate $xxx and send xx children to camp by a specific date using the following methods.
  • A realistic production schedule. Keep in mind that the funded project must be completed within six months of receiving the grant award. That means your project should be realistic in scope and scale in order to meet this deadline.
Eligibility and requirements Back to top
What are the requirements for the non-profit organization?

The organization must be an IRS (or Canadian equivalent) recognized 501(c)(3) organization. The project must be intended to solve a problem and support the mission of the nonprofit organization. The nonprofit must endorse the project and support the concept, design and implementation plan.

What if the organization I am working with is in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3)?

The proposal can support the work of a new nonprofit. There are no eligibility restrictions on the size of the nonprofit organization or the number of years that the nonprofit has been around. However, the nonprofit organization must have a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS (or Canadian equivalent). It is preferable to have that designation finalized by the time you submit the application—however, it is absolutely required to be finalized prior to the judging (which usually takes place one month after the close of entries). No funds will be released without proof of 501(c)(3) status.

Why are submissions limited to designers?

Sappi believes that good design inspires people to take action and great ideas can change the world. The Ideas that Matter program is based on this belief and supports designers in their efforts to make a difference.

Does the application have to be submitted by an individual designer?

No. Applications can come from an individual designer, a group of designers, a design firm or agency, an in-house corporate design department, an in-house nonprofit design department, design instructor, design student or student design group. The applying designer must complete the project—a designer cannot apply and then pass the work off to someone else for completion.

If the designer is a paid employee of the non-profit organization, can the designer still submit?

Yes. Sappi welcomes applications from designers actively working in the nonprofit community.

Can former Ideas that matter grant recipients apply for grants over multiple years?

Yes, Ideas that Matter grant recipients can apply as many times as they wish. The program has had a number of repeat grant recipients since it began in 1999.

Can designers apply for more than one grant?

Yes. Multiple grant applications can be submitted for different projects. And, grant applications can be submitted for the same nonprofit organization by multiple design firms.

Questions about the application process Back to top
Should the application come from the designer or the non-profit organization?

The proposal must be submitted by the designer. The nonprofit organization needs to be included in the process and must approve the proposed project but should not submit the grant UNLESS the designer is employed by the nonprofit organization.

Should resumes be submitted for individuals or the overall design team?

Members of a team can compile resumes into one document. Sappi would like information on the individuals on the design team to provide Judges with a complete understanding of a team’s ability and experience.

Can the Call for Entry application be reformatted (for example, in a binder or book)?

Yes. As long as the application includes all the required information and all questions are answered. If you do reformat your application, Sappi recommends that the presentation include information in the order of the online application. Please note: CDs and web pages are not acceptable application formats.

How should different components of the project be presented?

Like any complete project that you propose to a client, you should communicate the "big idea" and then explain the specific elements that will support that idea. In Step 2 of the Call for Entry application form, you are asked to communicate your concept and share your vision. Step 3 asks for a list of specific components of the project, as well as the budget completion dates for each component. .

Do I need to include actual estimates from printers and suppliers to support my budget?

No. We do not need copies of the actual estimates from printers and suppliers. However, we expect that your budget estimates are relatively accurate and based upon your experience, or upon conversations you have had with suppliers and vendors.

Should I include the cost of paper in the estimate or does Sappi provide the paper?

Yes, include the cost of paper in the estimate. Please be sure that the paper you specify and intend to use for this project is a Sappi product—McCoy, Opus, Somerset or Flo

How many examples of the applicant's prior work would you like to receive and in what format?

Please send pdf images of prior printed work in 8.5” x 11” format. If you send in actual pieces, please enclose a SASE if you wish to have them returned.

What are "publication rights"? Why does Sappi require the right to reproduce work from the funded projects?

For Sappi and the Ideas that Matter program, ‘publication rights’ refers to Sappi’s right to publish images of and information about the work you propose and then produce in order to promote the program and build its visibility in the design and nonprofit communities.

Where can I get samples of the paper Sappi produces for a printed project?

You can request swatchbooks and printed samples for your project by visiting www.sappisamples.com or by contacting your local merchant or Sappi salesperson.

Notification and contact Back to top
When will grant recipients be notified?

An independent panel of judges will evaluate each and every entry and grants will be announced in Fall 2023.

Who can we contact for more information?

You may contact us at 800-882-4332 or by email.

More than a dozen years ago Sappi North America— the maker of McCoy, Opus, Somerset and Flo — established the Ideas that Matter grant program to recognize and support designers who use their skills and expertise to solve communications problems for a wide range of charitable activities. Even today, Ideas that Matter remains the only grant program of its kind in the industry. Since 1999, Ideas that Matter has funded over 500 nonprofit projects, contributing more than $12.5 million worldwide to causes that enhance our lives, our communities and our planet. Sappi believes and supports the creative ideas of designers because they are a powerful force for social good. Working together with our customers, we aim to make a difference.

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Change the world by combing your ideas with your ideals.