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Frequently Asked Questions: The Red Backpack Fund

Thank you for your interest in The Red Backpack Fund. Learn more about this funding opportunity below.


Q: What is The Red Backpack Fund?

A: The Red Backpack Fund is an initiative started by The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation. The foundation donated $5 million to GlobalGiving to establish The Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be making at least 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis. To learn more about The Red Backpack Fund, please visit globalgiving.org/redbackpackfund.

Q: When will the application be open?

A: Each month from April to August, GlobalGiving will accept fund applications. The April and May cycles are now closed but three more rounds remain. The application portal will open at 12 p.m. ET and close at 12 p.m. ET the following dates:

  • June 1-8
  • July 6-13
  • Aug. 3-10

Sign up to get an email notification when the application re-opens.

Q: Who is eligible to apply?

A: Majority women-owned businesses and nonprofits in the U.S. and its territories with annual revenues less than $5M, at least one paid employee, and with fewer than 50 individuals on staff are eligible to apply. Sole proprietors and/or businesses or nonprofits that exclusively employ contractors are not eligible to receive this grant. Businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing and incorporated as a legal entity, and be able to demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing hardship. You must be 18 years or older to apply.

Q: How do I know if I’m eligible to apply?

A: Your business or nonprofit is eligible to apply if all the following are true:

  • You are at least 51% majority women-owned
  • You have withheld payroll taxes for at least one employee in addition to yourself (unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications from sole proprietors or individuals who exclusively employ contractors at this time)
  • You are registered in the U.S. and its territories as a legal entity and have a valid EIN number
  • You have fewer than 50 employees
  • Your annual revenues did not exceed $5M in any of the past three years
  • You are 18 years or older

Q: How does The Red Backpack Fund define “women-owned”?

A: The Red Backpack Fund seeks to support businesses and nonprofits run by people who are women-identifying. We follow the criteria of the Small Business Administration and define “women-owned” as 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. Businesses must meet these criteria to be eligible to apply. In the case of nonprofits, leadership must be 51% or more controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women to be eligible to apply.

If your business or nonprofit is selected as a finalist we will require supporting information to confirm your organization is women-led. This may include, but is not limited to: staff lists (including your Board Of Directors if your entity is a nonprofit), a Schedule K-1, or WBENC Certification.

The Red Backpack Fund uses an inclusive definition of “women.” We welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are significantly female-identified to apply.

Q: Are sole proprietors/solopreneurs eligible to apply? What about businesses and nonprofits that exclusively employ contractors?

A: Unfortunately, sole proprietorships (an entity owned and staffed by one person) and sole proprietorships that exclusively employ contractors are not eligible to apply for grants from The Red Backpack Fund at this time.

GlobalGiving defines sole proprietorship as an entity that is owned and staffed by just one person.

Female entrepreneurs own nearly 12 million businesses in the U.S., ranging from sole proprietorships to employers of small, medium, and large teams. We greatly value the importance and contributions of sole proprietors, but in facilitating The Red Backpack Fund in partnership with The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation, we determined that the greatest benefit will come from supporting entrepreneurs who have hired at least one employee. In this way, the grants can benefit not only the work of female entrepreneurs, but the employees they have hired and will keep on the payroll amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited grant funding available and millions of women in need, we had to set clear eligibility criteria for The Red Backpack Fund that helped the most diverse community of women possible.

The employment of at least one additional staff member (non-contractor), in addition to the owner, is therefore a requirement to be eligible for The Red Backpack Fund. This is defined by having withheld taxes from payroll for at least one employee this fiscal year and having one or more employees on payroll, in addition to yourself. GlobalGiving will verify tax withholding during our grant review prior to awarding funds.

Q: Can I use my Social Security Number as my taxpayer ID when applying for a grant?

A: No, your business or nonprofit must be registered as a legal entity with an EIN.

Q: How much funding is available?

A: Between May and September, GlobalGiving, via The Red Backpack Fund, will award at least 1,000 emergency assistance grants to majority women-owned businesses and nonprofits in the U.S. and its territories. Each grant will be $5,000.

Q: How will the grants be awarded?

A: GlobalGiving will select 200 recipients every grant cycle from a group of eligible organizations that submit an application. We will announce recipients each month, May through September.

Q: I applied during the April cycle, when will I be notified regarding my application’s status?

A: All applicants who applied by April 12 were updated on the status of their application the week of May 15.

Q: I applied during the May cycle, when will I be notified regarding my application’s status?

A: All applicants who applied by May 11 will be updated on the status of their application by June 15.

Q: Who is reviewing applications?

A: The GlobalGiving team is responsible for all applicant moderation and has assembled a 100% women-led team to lead reviews. The team includes, but is not limited to grant specialists, social workers, and female entrepreneurs, as well as monitoring and evaluation experts and customer experience analysts.

Q: Are applications reviewed on a rolling basis?

A: Applications are reviewed at the close of an application phase. For example, applications that are submitted for the June cycle (June 1 - 8) will begin to be reviewed by our team on June 9. Status updates are not provided on a rolling basis.

Q: Will there be additional documentation required after I submit my application?

A: If your business or nonprofit is selected as a finalist, you will be notified via email. Being selected as a finalist does not guarantee you will receive a grant. As a finalist, additional documentation will be required to verify information provided in your application. Required due diligence information may include an EIN, W-9 Form, and appropriate banking information in order to receive funds via ACH if awarded. Required grant documentation may include evidence of hardships, certification or evidence that your business or nonprofit is women-owned, evidence of payroll withholding, and financial statements.

Q: Will I receive a confirmation that my initial application has been submitted?

A: If you are eligible for the program and fill out all necessary fields in the application, you will see a confirmation screen after hitting “submit.”

Q: Can I apply more than once?

A: Due to the high volume of applications, GlobalGiving is only able to accept one application per organization through the entirety of the program, May through September. While we cannot invite you to reapply, we would like to share other financial resources and free products that may fit your organization’s needs:

Q: How can I get in touch with a member of the GlobalGiving team?

A: The GlobalGiving team is looking forward to hearing from you. You can connect with us at redbackpackfund@globalgiving.org.

Q: Where else can I apply for emergency assistance?

A: While we wish we could provide grants to every business and nonprofit applying to cover all your needs, our funding is limited. We encourage you to review this list of additional sources of emergency assistance from other funders at the links below:

  • GrantSpace — List of nearly 200 resources for nonprofits, individuals, and businesses
  • Hello Alice — List of resources for small businesses with an emphasis on women-led organizations
  • Global Entrepreneurship Network — Hub for international support of entrepreneurs and the option to search by country and resource type provided
  • Small Business Administration — List of resources and funding opportunities for women-led small businesses

You can find even more grant and funding opportunities that might be a good fit for your business or nonprofit in the GlobalGiving Learn Library.

Q: What should I know about GlobalGiving?

A: GlobalGiving is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit that makes it safe and easy to support important causes around the world. When a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic strikes, GlobalGiving quickly delivers funds to vetted nonprofits that are best-suited to lead immediate and long-term relief and recovery. We have a four-star rating on Charity Navigator and are accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. As part of our mission to accelerate community-led change, we provide tools, training, and support to help nonprofits, donors, and companies increase their impact and make our world a better place. Learn more.

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