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TED aims for even greater impact with The Audacious Project

TED aims for even greater impact with The Audacious Project

TED has developed an initiative designed to help turn bold and transformative ideas for social good into action. The Audacious Project is the product of three years’ work by a group of foundations and individuals.

The Audacious Project is aimed at social entrepreneurs who until now had the choice of for-profit or nonprofit business models, with all the associated limitations and access to different types of for growth that each offered.

“But what if there were a way to pool both investment and risk in great ideas for social change?” asks TED Curator Chris Anderson.


The Audacious Project is the result of recognising the challenges that social entrepreneurs face, according to Anderson, namely that:

  • there is no inherent reason why nonprofit initiatives can’t generate change at massive scale
  • nonprofit fundraising is fundamentally harder
  • it’s not just the social entrepreneurs who are frustrated but private donors too.

Its full title is The Audacious Project: Collaborative Philanthropy for Bold Ideas.

So far more than $250 million has been committed to seven bold ideas for global change.

It will operated from TED under the leadership of Executive Director Anna Verghese. She has been the TED Prize Director for the last five years.


Replacing and ramping up the TED Prize

TED has for some time been active in the area of supporting big ideas for good. It has hosted and shared educational and inspiring talks by thinkers on a wide variety of topics.

In addition, for 12 years it has turned some of these big ideas into action through its TED Prize. You can read about some of the social entrepreneurs who have been awarded this prize.

The 2017 TED Prize winner was Raj Panjabi for the work of his nonprofit, Last Mile Health. It received $1 million from TED “and the resources of our global community to launch a new way for community health workers to learn online”.

But he has a far larger vision, the kind that has inspired The Audacious Project. Indeed, his work and that of partner organisation Living Goods, has received $50m as a pilot of The Audacious Project, to help them save 30 million lives by 2030.

The Audacious Project replaces the TED Prize. But it also expands its aims and level of support. Anderson says: “It’s a bigger bet on the power of ideas and the entrepreneurs that champion them.”

The new annual prize project will see social entrepreneurs invited to share their boldest ideas  – “ideas that truly take your breath away” – with TED.

Selected ideas and entrepreneurs will then be presented to donors and the public, “inspiring people across the world to come together to act and turn these audacious dreams into realities”.




This year’s TED Conference will include a session announcing The Audacious Project, which will be livestreamed. It will take place at 5pm PDT on Wednesday 11 April.

Attendees will be able to vote on how $1 million will be distributed among the projects that have been selected this year.

On that day the public will be able to contribute via the Audacious Project website to the selected projects. In addition the website will be open to “any change-maker or change-making organisation” to pitch their own idea for impact at scale and detail how they could execute it given the appropriate financial support. 


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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