How to Score $50k for Your Cause

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The wine biz must be cherry these days, because Redwood Creek, maker of some of our favorite backpacker-priced table wines, recently announced its Greater Outdoors Project, a contest to support conservation and trail maintenance work in the United States. The winning entry will get a $50,000 grant, and a runner-up will get $10,000. (No word on whether a year’s supply of pinot comes with it.) The top project will also be featured in a national advertising campaign—and right here on the Daily Dirt, too.

So how do you claim the cash? Obviously, you gotta come up with a good project and figure out how to present it creatively. Having been judges of many such contests over the years, BACKPACKER editors can tell you that a run-of-the-mill trail fix-up ain’t gonna cut it. Nor is an ugly Powerpoint with a few lame pics of your buddies. Here’s our advice:

• Find a project that will have real impact—preserving a wild area critical to a unique species, building a handicapped-accessible trail, cleaning up a creek fouled by pollution. Sexy is better—in an outdoor way, of course—and good on you if the work benefit hundreds, if not thousands, or people or wildlife.

• Consider a video instead of a lot of verbiage. Judges get bored with long, turgid project descriptions. The more visuals you provide, the more dynamic your presentation, the better your chances of winning.

• Get some outside experts to write letters of support explaining why your project is so damn important. We’ve seen that once, and only once, and the 3rd-party endorsement put that application over the top.

• Study the Redwood Creek brand and its marketing, and figure out how—in a subtle way—to integrate their message into yours. No need for wine bottles in your video, but remember that these guys are going to want a winner that reflects the company’s mission and self-image.

The contest runs from March 15 to May 15. During that period, you can complete an online application and read the rules at www.redwoodcreek.com. A couple requirements up front: Your group needs to be a registered 501(c)(3), and you’ll need to submit a detailed budget and timeline with a December 2009 end date. —Jon Dorn