Presenting The Audacious Project — A New Model for Philanthropic Collaboration


A group of leading organizations today announce The Audacious Project: Collaborative Philanthropy for Bold Ideas, a joint endeavor housed at TED, the non-profit devoted to ideas worth spreading, to surface and fund critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives.

The Audacious Project invites visionary social entrepreneurs, nonprofits and individuals to dream bigger than they have ever imagined — and to shape those dreams into multi-year plans that are viable and sustainable. The project invites donors to pool resources and work together in service of these ambitious ideas. The hope is to create collectively a model of philanthropy that mimics the way in which promising startups are funded, so the projects can be more ambitious, more collaborative and more effective.

Each year, the project will identify up to five ideas that stand out as thrillingly bold and have a credible path to execution, scale and impact. Nominations come from the coalition of partners and an application that is open to the public. All ideas will be fully researched and vetted before being publicly unveiled in a special session at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver.

These TED Talks will be shared online at following the session, and members of the TED audience — and people around the world — are invited to support each initiative financially (and in other ways) alongside participating members of The Audacious Project coalition. Each project includes a specific budget that matches its ambition — and a timeline that spans years.

Leading up to today’s launch of The Audacious Project, this coalition of nonprofit organizations, foundations and individuals worked together to raise over $250 million to help power the inaugural ideas, which will be unveiled at TED2018.

“TED is dedicated to sharing ideas that matter,” said Chris Anderson, TED Curator. “But many of the  ideas that matter most require funding on a scale that most people and organizations would never believe was available to them. This initiative is designed to surface those ideas and help turn them into widely-supported action plans.”

Watch the reveal of The Audacious Project recipients on April 11 live from the TED2018 stage in a session that will be livestreamed exclusively on Facebook Watch at

A remarkable group of individuals and organizations have come together and are playing a key role in facilitating the initiative. Among them are the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, the Dalio Foundation, Scott Cook & Signe Ostby, Laura & John Arnold, ELMA Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will draw on 100&Change, its global competition for bold solutions to critical problems, to identify and vet high quality projects. And the Bridgespan Group, a leading global social impact advisory firm, is playing a key role in supporting this collaboration and working with entrepreneurs on investment-ready plans.

Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation, said: “To crack the code on the world’s most pressing problems, we need to bet big on entrepreneurs capable of both vision and action at scale. This new venture takes the signature TED mantra of ideas that matter to a whole new level — from ideas that matter to problems that can be solved.”

Chairman of Virgin Unite Sir Richard Branson said: “We want to support extraordinary projects that will change millions of lives for the better. We know we are stronger together, so we are thrilled to work with TED, Skoll Foundation and a wonderful group of partners to catalyse The Audacious Project.  Audacious is a brilliant way to unite individuals and foundations, no matter how big or how small, to tackle the world’s most complex challenges and collaborate like never before. A big thanks to the teams leading these inspiring, hopeful Audacious projects to change the world.”

Ray Dalio of the Dalio Foundation said: “We are excited to support the big and bold ideas of social entrepreneurs committed to large-scale change. TED has created a superb model for identifying and sorting through game changing philanthropic shapers — people with big visions and the talents to make them into realities. It’s really remarkable.”

At TED, The Audacious Project will be overseen by the TED Prize team, which has spent the last 12 years identifying some of the world’s most gifted change-makers and scaling their imagination about their work. This team is being expanded under the leadership of Executive Director Anna Verghese, and they will now focus all their energy on this new initiative. Verghese said, “We find ourselves at a critical moment in time, faced with urgent challenges. Taking these on requires radical, international collaboration among individuals and organizations, a sharing of ideas and an active pooling of resources. This is precisely what The Audacious Project is all about.”

“If ever there was an aptly named project, it’s Audacious,” said Laura and John Arnold. “Big thinkers often feel that limited scope increases funding opportunities. This project allows entrepreneurs to imagine without resource constraints. We believe The Audacious Project will inspire the bold, visionary thinking needed to solve today’s most urgent problems.”

“The Audacious Project is an ambitious approach to addressing the most urgent challenges for the world’s poorest people and the innovative entrepreneurs who want to help them. It’s very exciting to see so many leaders in philanthropy join forces in this catalytic model,” said Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Julia Stasch, President of the MacArthur Foundation, said: “When we launched 100&Change, we hoped others would join us by making big bets and supporting solutions at scale — at a level far greater than what is typical in philanthropy. We see significant benefit in collaboration and believe The Audacious Project’s complementary approach will inspire organizations to think big and believe solutions are possible.”

Tom Tierney, Chairman and Co-founder at The Bridgespan Group, commented: “The Audacious Project offers an unprecedented opportunity for ambitious social entrepreneurs and far-sighted philanthropists to collaborate effectively in pursuit of breakthrough results — for our communities and our planet.”

Applications for 2019 are open to the public. Put forward an idea for consideration, learn more or support an existing project at

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual gathering in Vancouver, Canada, its TEDWomen and TEDGlobal conferences, and at thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world, then made available, free, on and other channels.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, among many others,, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellowsprogram, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; subtitles and interactive transcripts thanks to thousands of volunteer translators worldwide; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.

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