Spanx by Sara Blakely Red Backpack Fund

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

Q: When will the application be open?

A: Each month from April to August, GlobalGiving accepted fund applications. Due to the generosity of donors to The Red Backpack Fund, we opened a sixth and final cycle in September. The application portal closed on Sept. 15.

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 or founded 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 or founded 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 within the last fiscal year and having one or more employees on payroll, in addition to yourself. Unfortunately, nonprofits operated solely by volunteers are not eligible for this grant. 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: During May through September the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation, in partnership with GlobalGiving, has committed $5 million to 1,000 women-owned small businesses across the US who have been impacted by the pandemic. We are honored to share that due to generous donations both large and small from the public, the fund will provide an additional round of $5,000 grants for a 6th and final cycle. The amount of funding and the number of recipients is still being determined as The Red Backpack Fund continues to be open for donations until August 31.

Q: How will the grants be awarded?

A: In October, GlobalGiving will fund additional grant awards due to the generosity of donors to The Red Backpack Fund. The amount of funding and the number of recipients is still being determined as The Red Backpack Fund continues to be open for donations.

Q: I applied for The Red Backpack Fund, when will I be notified regarding my application’s status?

  • All fifth round applicants who applied by August 10 will be updated by September 25.
  • All sixth round applicants who applied by September 15 will be updated by October 30.

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) were 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

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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