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Columbus SOUP

Columbus SOUP is a grassroots platform to share ideas with the community.

Operating under the notion that philanthropy is more than giant checks, Columbus SOUP is a grassroots platform to share ideas with the community.

Columbus SOUP hosts crowdfunding events and community dinners to work as a catalyst for connections and make philanthropy accessible to anyone. Local organizations interested present their projects for positive change and attendees of the event pay a $7 donation for dinner, which contributes to the SOUP grant and vote on the presentation to win the SOUP grant.

The SOUP concept began as Sunday Soup by InCUBATE, a research group dedicated to finding new approaches to arts funding in Chicago. Executive Director, Liz Martin says Detroit SOUP, a re-envisioned Sunday Soup focusing on social justice projects with a neighborhood-pride building twist, inspired Columbus SOUP.

“We were inspired by Detroit SOUP and the positivity and impact they were creating in their city,” Martin says. “In late 2011, a group of friends came together to shape SOUP for our own community and held our first Columbus SOUP event in June 2012,” she adds.

The founders of Columbus SOUP consists of Martin, Bryant Miller, Catey Seiser, Christina Christian, and Jorie Emory.

All SOUP events are made up of donations by local partners or covered by SOUP sponsor, SocialVentures, allowing the company to give 100 percent of the donations from event attendees to the winning project.

Each quarter, events, themes, and venues change. Themes include, but are not limited to community gardens, women’s empowerment, and social enterprises. Two months before each event, applications are released, and weeks before the event, five projects are selected to present.

The day of the event, attendees are given a green spoon to use when voting. Attendees listen to groups pitch their ideas while a raffle takes place. The first place project wins all proceeds from ticket sales while second place wins money collected from the raffle.

Typically first-place grants range from $1,200 to $2,500 while second-place grants range from $500-$750.

When asked what makes Columbus SOUP unique, Martin emphasized the accessibility of each event and how SOUP is a seed-starter for many projects. “After winning at an event, many projects go on to find additional support from other sources – often because of the confidence the community had in them by selecting them to win at SOUP,” Martin says. “When given the platform, our community is ready to step up and support people and projects aimed at positive change,” she adds.

In the future, Columbus SOUP looks forward to their upcoming events. One of which is a Social Enterprise Fair with Social Ventures in an effort to highlight businesses doing good in the community. Columbus SOUP is also looking forward to breaking the record for the largest SOUP grant, which would need to exceed $3,322.

To learn more, visit the Columbus SOUP website, follow them on Instagram, or email them at

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