About the program

Ideas That Matter is an annual program that awards up to $50,000 in grants for projects that have a positive impact on communities near and far. By partnering with a nonprofit organization, creatives can design a project that makes a difference.

At Sappi, it’s our mission to harness the power of trees to help build a thriving world. It’s also important that we work with people and organizations who share our values to drive positive social impact. We look for projects that create social impact benefiting people, communities and the planet while aligning with one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Who may apply

Ideas That Matter is open to individual designers, design firms, agencies, in-house corporate design departments, design instructors, individual design students and design student groups. Ideas That Matter is a global program and applicants from around the world are invited to participate.

What kinds of projects may be submitted

All communication projects that support the needs of the nonprofit and meet the conditions and requirements of the Ideas that Matter program will be considered. 

The project must connect to one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At least a portion of the project must be printed. 

Additional elements may include a variety of communication mediums such as outdoor signage, T-shirts, banner advertising, print advertising, websites, HTML campaigns, events or other media. The cost of previously designed pieces which are to be reprinted as part of your new proposal may be included. You may not submit an application exclusively for reprinting an existing piece.

What issues are considered relevant for this grant

Sappi has made the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an integral part of our business. The goals define 17 global priorities that challenge us all to lean in and apply our creativity and innovation to contribute solutions to challenges—from climate change to poverty.

Projects that address all social, environmental, healthcare, community, etc., issues will be considered and will, inevitably, fit into one of the UN’s 17 global priorities. This will also ensure that our grant projects address the crucial needs of our communities and our world. Following are the UN’s SDGs for your consideration.

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitization
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

For more information about these goals, you can check the UN’s SDGs site.

What budget items may be submitted

Grant awards range from $5,000 to $50,000 per project. In addition to the hard costs of paper and packaging materials (please specify a Sappi product) and production, budget items may also include implementation and out-of-pocket costs, including photography, illustration, artists, writers, outside copyrighting, mailing, advertising, distribution and website hosting. Budget items may not include indirect costs such as travel, hardware, fiscal sponsor fees or overhead elements, such as computers, staff salaries, accounting costs, or rent.

You may also include up to 10% of the total grant request as an honorarium for your design fees. You must adjust your costs so the combination of the honorarium and all other costs do not exceed the $50,000 limit.

How grants are paid

Grants are paid as expenses against a purchase order and not paid out as a lump sum. As expenses for the project are incurred, either the designer or the nonprofit (whichever is associated with the assigned PO) must submit a request for payment on official letterhead along with the supporting invoice(s).

Sappi will not pay out grant amounts based on estimates—unless specifically discussed with the Ideas That Matter management. All expenses must be submitted by the project completion date which is six months from the date of the grant award.

Application restrictions

Your application must include the following:

  • IRS 501(c)3 letter or Canadian equivalent of the nonprofit organization with which you are working
  • Completed call for entry form, which includes:
    • Design and nonprofit Information
      • Design applicant contact information and design firm or company, if applicable
      • Nonprofit organization and contact person
      • Information about the nonprofit's mission, history and who it serves
      • Signatures from both the designer and the nonprofit contact
    • Project information
      • Title of the project
      • Written description of the proposed project, including the project idea, intended impact, target audience, distribution and plans for implementation
      • A visual presentation of the idea
      • List of proposed project's components, budget, total grant request and timeline with completion date
    • Personal information
      • Your brief résumé or bio
      • Up to three examples of your or your team's past work 

For more information

Refer to our FAQ section with questions about your application or the process. To be inspired by the work of past winners, see videos featuring our design community and more.

Learn more about grants, eligibility and the application process.
Nearly two decades ago, Sappi saw a need to invest in a platform that combined design excellence with charity, hence Ideas that Matter was born. We could not be more proud of the work that has come out of the program because our grant recipients are truly making a positive, measurable impact around the world.
Patti Groh, Marketing Communications Director, Sappi North America