Food has long been a great uniter. Whether it's families, friends, or some other collective, sharing a meal together just feels good, right, and true. Perhaps it was from this impulse that Sunday Soup got its start. At the heart of the matter is a meal that pumps funding into local projects.

Participants enjoy the eats at a Sunday Soup Santander event in Spain. Photo credit: Sunday Soup Santander.

Basically, Sunday Soup is a self-organized global network of face-to-face crowdfunding events that fund local projects. Food is the lure. And the events are simple as pie. Here's how it's done:

  • Small, local projects apply for a Soup Grant with the application deadline being dinner time.

  • A group meal is sold to community members at an affordable price. Proceeds go into the Soup Grant pool.

  • Diners are informed about the projects available to fund. Then they vote on which ones get the money from that particular meal. Done.  

Go here for a guide on how to start a Sunday Soup in your area.

A SPREAD Santa Fe gathering last fall that raised over $8,000. Photo credit: SPREAD Santa Fe.

Because the Sunday Soup organizing model is decentralized with each local group tailoring it to fit their own needs, the finer details vary. Some programs allow the grant applicants to make a presentation during the dinner. Others invite previous recipients to report on their progress.

A creative means to an often obstacle-ridden end, the Soup Grant program “generates independent funding and sparks dialogue about the availability and distribution of resources within the mainstream arts establishment. In an environment where governmental support for experimental art practice is minimal at best, and private support is dictated by the values and priorities of granting foundations, innovative and potentially controversial work is compromised in order to fit within categories deemed 'fundable.'”

Heba Mourad discusses her film at the Wednesday Wagbas in Cairo. Photo credit: Wednesday Wagbas.

With Sunday Soup, patrons of the arts within communities can, almost literally, put their money where their mouth is. And, because the model is purposely simple, it can be molded and melded to fit pretty much any micro-funding scenario — community gardens, urban clean-up, youth programs, and more.

There are 76 groups in the Sunday Soup network to date. Groups include FEAST Brooklyn, Sunday Borscht (Kiev, Ukraine), Granaio (Milan, Italy), Cafe Huntington (Huntington, West Virginia), Wednesday Wagbas (Cairo, Egypt), and Matash's (Mount Ayliff, South Africa), among many others. All told, they've raised and distributed $70,000. And they're really just getting started. So dig in!

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.