TED is owned by The Sapling Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation, a 501(c)3 organization under US tax code. It was established in 1996 by Chris Anderson, who was at that time a magazine publishing entrepreneur.
The goal of the foundation is to foster the spread of great ideas. It aims to provide a platform for the world's smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers, so that millions of people can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world, and a desire to help create a better future. Core to this goal is a belief that there is no greater force for changing the world than a powerful idea. Consider:
- An idea can be created out of nothing except an inspired imagination.
- An idea weighs nothing.
- It can be transferred across the world at the speed of light for virtually zero cost.
- And yet an idea, when received by a prepared mind, can have extraordinary impact.
- It can reshape that mind's view of the world.
- It can dramatically alter the behavior of the mind's owner.
- It can cause the mind to pass on the idea to others.
Many factors can amplify the power of ideas: mass media, technology and market forces, to name three. In the past Sapling has supported projects that use these tools to leverage every dollar spent and create sustainable change in areas such as global public health, poverty alleviation, and biodiversity. More than $10m has therefore been granted to enlightened organizations such as the Acumen Fund, Environmental Defence, One World Health, and PATH.
But Sapling is not now accepting proposals for any further outside grants — because the focus of the foundation is now the impact possible through TED itself. Ever since the foundation acquired TED (in November 2001), it has been seeking ways to allow the extraordinary passion and inspiration created every year at our conferences in California and the UK to effect beneficial change in the world.
There are several major ways in which this now happens:
- The TED Prize takes a great idea each year and seeks to achieve goals of global impact.
- TED.com allows the great ideas shared at TED to be easily accessible anywhere in the world, in more than 70 languages.
- The TED Fellows program brings extraordinary new voices into the TED community.
- TEDx supports the creation of independent TED-like events in communities around the world.
The profits made by the TED conferences are directed toward these initiatives, and the foundation welcomes contributions from those who share its philanthropic goals. Even more, it welcomes support for the wishes of our TED Prize winners and assistance from any organization or company who can help distribute "ideas worth spreading."
How you can help: