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.



Ideas that Matter is an annual program. Call for Entries is announced every year in early April. Applications for the 2016 program must be submitted and postmarked no later than July 27, 2016. Judging takes place in August, grants are announced in September, and awards distributed in October. Projects must be fully implemented within six months of receiving awards.

Application Requirements

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 (Must be a North American based designer)
      • Nonprofit organization and contact person (Must be a North American based nonprofit)
      • Information about the nonprofit's mission, history and whom it serves
      • Signatures from both designer and 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—presented as 3-5 printed pdfs and formatted to 8.5" x 11".
      • List of proposed project's components, budget, total grant request and timeline with completion date
    • Personal information—
      • Your brief resumé or bio
      • Up to 3 examples of your past work—presented as printed pdfs

    Please Note—

    Members of a team can compile resumé and design samples 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.

    For both the visual presentation and samples of previous work, please send only printed pdfs. Do not send CDs or a website URL.

    All of the requested information except the printed pdf samples may be submitted using the pdf call for entry form or you may reformat your application in a separate presentation. If your application is reformatted, please make sure to include all information in the order it is requested. All applications must be submitted by mail. Applications received via email will not be accepted.

Where to send entries

Send your completed call for entry application form and supplementary materials to:

Ideas that Matter
Sappi North America
89 Cumberland Street
Westbrook, Maine 04092

Please enclose a self-addressed envelope if you wish any information to be returned

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. Only applicants in North America may apply to this program.

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. 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. 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 budget items may be submitted

Grant awards range from $5,000 to $50,000 per project. Budget items may include implementation and out-of-pocket costs, including photography, illustration, artists, writers, outside copyrighting, paper (please specify a Sappi product), printing, 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.

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).

Selection process

Applications are reviewed by an annually selected, independent committee comprised of leaders in the design industry. Evaluation of project concepts and design will be based on creativity, potential benefit for the nonprofit, impact on the nonprofit’s target community, and effectiveness of the implementation plan. The decisions of the judges are final.

Conditions & restrictions
  • All grant monies must be used within six months of receipt.
  • No charity may cite Sappi or Ideas that Matter as a supplier of a grant without prior written permission from Sappi.
  • Sappi employees and family members and agencies conducting business with the company are ineligible.
  • Grant recipients who find they are unable to execute the project may enlist the help of the nonprofit organization to complete it.
  • Submitted concepts not awarded a grant will remain the intellectual property of the applicant. However, Sappi has the right to retain copies of and reproduce the submissions as part of its promotion of the Ideas that Matter grant program.

Publication rights

Sappi reserves the right to publish and promote the completed work made possible by the Ideas that Matter grant. Grant recipients may also be asked to participate in Sappi educational seminars and conferences, or to share their programs with others in the graphic arts community. Sappi reserves the right to reproduce any design submissions, along with pertinent case histories, in materials produced to promote and support the Ideas that Matter program.

For more information

Call 800-882-4332 or visit

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