Fostering Solutions and Infrastructure

Grant Proposal Guidelines

Grant Guidance

With this call, the C3 Grantmaking program is seeking to foster solutions and infrastructure that will enable and accelerate the deployment of catalytic capital around the world, across diverse sectors and markets. The goal is to aid both investors and capital seekers through practical resources and mechanisms that facilitate increased use of catalytic capital and help make these transactions faster, more efficient, and more effective.

The C3 Grantmaking team is inviting proposals for this workstream through a two-step request, beginning with submission of basic information and a short project description. We encourage prospective grantees to identify the problems and potential solutions they believe to be most important and opportune for action.

Grants that will help advance solutions and infrastructure that are selected for funding will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Addresses specific barriers and gaps that impede access to and the use of catalytic capital, and provides value to investor audiences (Note: audiences that are the focus of C3 Grantmaking’s work are indicated below in the paragraph following these criteria);
  2. Benefits communities and individuals that are low-income, historically marginalized, and/or helps the impact investing field achieve deeper impact on one or more of the critical issues of our time, including racial justice, climate crisis, public health equity, economic recovery and the SDGs;
  3. Takes an action-oriented approach, resulting in catalytic capital deployment in the field; and
  4. Supports systemic-level shifts, focused on larger capital gaps with long-term impacts and ripple effects rather than one particular use case, sector, or moment in time. Solutions proposed should go beyond the individual efforts of one team and should engage multiple stakeholders (beyond investors) in the field.

The other workstreams of the C3 Grantmaking program focus in particular on foundations, development finance institutions (DFIs), and family offices/ultra-high net worth individuals, given that these are the primary providers of catalytic capital. We anticipate that solutions funded through this workstream could focus on these investor audiences, but are open to submissions that focus on other audiences with the potential to influence significant catalytic capital deployment.

Below are some illustrative, but not comprehensive, areas of focus where we envision opportunities to support creative solutions that address consistent challenges in mobilizing catalytic capital.

  • Sourcing – Investors face barriers sourcing deals and identifying pipeline, and enterprises face impediments in identifying catalytic capital sources. Interventions are needed to help improve the access and flow of opportunities to investors, and to enable capital seekers to better assess the availability of catalytic capital from investors and to apply for such capital.
  • Structuring – Intermediaries and others may struggle to design and facilitate catalytic capital investment opportunities due to the bespoke nature of such opportunities, and the timescales associated with mobilizing catalytic capital. This is particularly the case in catalytic capital investment structures which are pioneering in nature (first of their kind), seek to mobilize multiple types of investors and partners, and seek to have sector-level impact and/or reach ambitious scale. Philanthropic capital has enabled the design of a number of leading catalytic capital structures with these characteristics, but such funding to support the design and mobilization phases of this work has been scarce.   
  • Policy and standards – Policy tools, interventions, and solutions focused on aligning and adapting policy and regulations to promote the use of catalytic capital in a variety of geographies are needed. Such efforts could include learning from and the adaption of successful past regulatory interventions in new and different geographies.
  • Data – Efforts to address the challenges of having consistent market-level data on the need for and the use of catalytic capital could be particularly useful in emphasizing the role and contributions of catalytic capital. Such efforts could include coordinating mechanisms to collect and analyze catalytic capital data from various industry platforms.
  • Talent and capacity – Training programs around catalytic capital for a variety of practitioners (e.g., investment advisors, wealth management firms, intermediaries, etc. in addition to investors) could help create a stronger enabling environment for investors to work on transactions. Additionally, many investors are open to providing catalytic capital, but face capacity constraints for reasons beyond training (e.g., size of their team, limited ability to conduct due diligence, etc.) Such efforts could include solutions focused on increasing coordination among investors.

In addition to these illustrative areas of focus, the C3 Grantmaking program is open to considering projects that tackle other challenges and potential solutions relating to catalytic capital. Therefore, we have designed this grantmaking opportunity to be responsive to the field, allowing for proposals that extend beyond the above identified sample  areas as long as they align with the key criteria listed here.

Grantee Eligibility and Preferences

The C3 Grantmaking program invites applications from any organization or organizational collaboration with an interest in and commitment to the deployment of catalytic capital, and the requisite expertise and capabilities.

The C3 Grantmaking program strongly prefers that work focusing on the Global South be conducted by organizations or personnel based in the region.

Intended Outputs and Timeframe

The work funded through each grant should result in outputs and deliverables that can be disseminated and utilized widely, enabled by the use of a Creative Commons license when appropriate. The C3 Grantmaking program encourages proposals that also include an approach to engaging key stakeholders in the development of the project (e.g., the organization may propose a series of inclusive virtual convenings or workshops throughout the project in order to inform, test and refine the key outputs and gather diverse perspectives).

Work within the project should be completed within 6-8 months of the grant award.

Phase 1 of Proposal Process: Request for Information

Interested organizations should submit a two-page summary of the proposed project that briefly describes the following elements:

  • Focus of the proposed work, specifically the barriers your project seeks to overcome;
  • Your proposed solution, including why it is needed, and how it goes beyond efforts or resources that currently exist;
  • High level summary of proposed activities and anticipated results;
  • High-level timeline for work and summary budget; and
  • Relevant experience and capabilities of individuals and organization(s) applying for funding, as well as a list of any key partnerships. (Note – links to online bios are preferred here, so that majority of the summary can focus on project specifics.)

Note: apart from the links encouraged for individual/organizational bios, only text in the two-page summary will be reviewed in Phase 1.

The C3 Strategic Partners will review these submissions and request a subset of applicants submit full proposals for further consideration.

Budget Guidance

Proposals up to $200,000 will be considered, with an expectation that grant sizes will correlate appropriately with the project design.

Date and TimeRequired Action or Deadline
Midnight Central, Tuesday March 15, 2022RFI Submission (two-page project submission). Applications should be submitted via the New Venture Fund grant portal.
Mid May, 2022C3 Grantmaking will notify applicants of requests to submit a full proposal.
Midnight Central, Thursday, June 30, 2022Full proposals due via to the New Venture Fund grant portal.
Q3 2022C3 Grantmaking to begin making grant awards.
Q4 2022Awards to be announced.

*Please note that due to the high number of proposals received, the review timeline may be updated. Applicants will be notified via email about shifts and when they can expect to hear from the C3 Review Team around next steps.

Application Portal

Click here to access the application.

*Note – this application process is now closed. Applicants will be notified via email about next steps in the coming months.

A FAQ on this grant opportunity and the work of C3 Grantmaking can be found hereFor enquiries and queries, please contact the C3 Grantmaking program officer, Emily Duma.

The photo above features the Ashesi Venture Incubator program. In this one-year experience, fellows (incubatees) are provided with financial support, business development programs, and mentorship from local and global industry professionals. Ashesi University and Impact Investing Ghana will use their combined experience supporting SMEs as C3 Evidence Base grantees conducting research to further the use of catalytic capital in Ghana. Learn more about their work and the work of the other C3 Evidence Base awardees here