What is it? A SOUP event is an innovative seed funding activity designed to support local innovation. Community members come together for a meal, to which all are welcome. These individuals pay a small amount for their meal and, while eating, listen to proposals from neighbors or organizations who wish to institute some kind of program or idea to help the community. At the end of the meal, the participants vote on the best idea and the money people paid for their meal goes to support this idea. A SOUP event helps new exciting ideas get off the ground and brings the community together to help build better relationships and awareness of projects and ideas.
How has it been used? Detroit SOUP has helped popularize this type of effort. Attendance at their events has grown tremendously in just a few years and the average is now over 250 people per meal. Community members have helped neighbors fund their ideas, as a total of $25,000 has been given to this point. Each meal costs $5 and in addition to soup, bread and salad, each person votes on which of four 4-minute presentations they find the most compelling. The idea with the most votes receives all the funds raised from that meal. Funded projects include a program teaching students about screen-printing, a for-profit, urban, organic farm, a park beautification project and a printed guide to the City of Detroit. These events have brought the community together and helped some worthwhile projects get off the ground. (Source: Detroit SOUP)