Funding alli­ances for resi­li­ent initiatives

Funding alliances pool resources to make a sustainable impact: through partnerships between players in the philanthropic sector who join forces in pursuit of common goals. Because of the potential they demonstrate, Con·Sense and StiftungSchweiz have dedicated a webinar to them. We spoke with Lukas Hupfer about the intentions behind it.

Lukas, what are funding alli­ances, anyway?

Lukas Hupfer: In an alli­ance, seve­ral orga­ni­sa­ti­ons join toge­ther in pursuit of a common goal, so in a funding alli­ance, those are funding orga­ni­sa­ti­ons. Alli­ances are more or less formally struc­tu­red and inten­tio­nally desi­gned for the long term. It’s what distin­gu­is­hes them from ad hoc coope­ra­tion initia­ti­ves or the coll­ec­tive funding one so often finds in phil­an­thropy. In the latter case, seve­ral spon­sors will decide to support a parti­cu­lar project inde­pendently and possi­bly without know­ledge of one another.

What are the bene­fits of a funding alliance?

Funding alli­ances are based on jointly deve­lo­ped stra­te­gies, which ensu­res that all part­ners align their resour­ces and actions towards a clearly defi­ned goal. This boosts impact, prevents dupli­ca­tion and crea­tes conti­nuity and stabi­lity. Alli­ances make joint lear­ning proces­ses and the trans­fer of best prac­ti­ces much easier, and the nature of shared respon­si­bi­lity helps reduce risk. Finally, the joint presence of spon­sors can increase visi­bi­lity and influence in both public and poli­ti­cal discourse.

Sounds great. Why don’t all funding orga­ni­sa­ti­ons take this approach? 

Agre­e­ing on a goal is easier said than done. For all their simi­la­ri­ties, part­ners often differ in culture, values and perspec­ti­ves. Reco­g­nis­ing this diver­sity and putting it to use is criti­cal for setting reali­stic goals and expec­ta­ti­ons. What’s more, alli­ances often operate at a higher syste­mic level. Some foun­da­ti­ons do still prefer projects with clear attri­bu­tion and causa­lity: ‘Our contri­bu­tion has made this project happen. But as I said, if anything, alli­ances accom­plish more than that.’

Have you got an example?

A few years ago, I estab­lished a foreign policy think tank called foraus and got to expe­ri­ence the ins and outs of a funding alli­ance myself: five foun­da­ti­ons jointly provide core funding for the organisation’s further deve­lo­p­ment. After forming the alli­ance, the consti­tu­tive foun­da­ti­ons and foraus now regu­larly exch­ange infor­ma­tion regar­ding their common inte­rests: what trends are heading our way? How do I keep a commu­nity enga­ged? In my opinion, we should build on these posi­tive expe­ri­en­ces and results and go one step further: I believe a compre­hen­sive alli­ance unites not only funding orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, but also grantees. 

How do Con·Sense and StiftungSchweiz help streng­then funding alliances? 

We believe that funding alli­ances in phil­an­thropy are beco­ming more important than ever because of incre­asing vola­ti­lity. They give nonpro­fit orga­ni­sa­ti­ons plan­ning secu­rity, stabi­lity and the resour­ces they need to stay in the game and react flexi­bly to new deve­lo­p­ments. In short, they boost resilience.

In order to better exploit the poten­tial of networks and make it easier and more effi­ci­ent to set up funding alli­ances in future, we are hosting a webi­nar to provide them a plat­form using examp­les from orga­ni­sa­ti­ons that have expe­ri­en­ced it all first-hand. StiftungSchweiz is also using the new network module to reduce the effort invol­ved in coor­di­na­tion and is deve­lo­ping a frame­work with proces­ses, tools and templa­tes to faci­li­tate the estab­lish­ment of funding alliances.

Lukas Hupfer is an orga­ni­sa­tio­nal consul­tant at Con·Sense. As the former head of foraus, Switzerland’s largest think tank on foreign policy, he galva­nised the phil­an­thro­pic sector with a consor­tium of foun­da­ti­ons and initia­ti­ves on diver­sity, volun­tee­ring and impact. His exper­tise in stra­tegy and orga­ni­sa­tio­nal deve­lo­p­ment as well as his exten­sive network and coope­ra­tion with poli­ti­ci­ans and autho­ri­ties unders­core his versa­tile skills.

eduLABs across Switzerland 

eduLABs by Crea­tive Kids foster young people’s future-orien­ted skills in a targe­ted way, with addi­tio­nal loca­ti­ons now set to spread the programme to new regi­ons across Switz­er­land. In the network, funding orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and inte­res­ted parties assist with the expan­sion and deve­lo­p­ment of these inno­va­tion laboratories.

Algo­rith­m­Watch CH

Algo­rith­m­Watch CH is commit­ted to ensu­ring that algo­rithms and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) streng­then justice, human rights, demo­cracy and sustaina­bi­lity instead of weak­e­ning them. From rese­arch and advo­cacy to campaig­ning and PR work, the orga­ni­sa­tion has garne­red a tremen­dous response. We take on further deve­lo­p­ment in the network and invite funding orga­ni­sa­ti­ons to share their ideas.

Alli­ance F

Alli­ance F, which repres­ents women’s voices in Swiss poli­tics, campaigns on a non-parti­san basis for concrete impro­ve­ments in work-life balance, econo­mic secu­rity and protec­tion against violence. By promo­ting women in poli­ti­cal office, we are stri­ving for a more repre­sen­ta­tive demo­cracy. In this network, we deve­lop pros­pects for rein­for­cing our orga­ni­sa­tion long-term.

Discuss it

Discuss it seeks to increase young people’s inte­rest and parti­ci­pa­tion in Swiss demo­cracy and favours an approach to poli­ti­cal educa­tion based on peer forums and strong school part­ner­ships. This network is about public reco­gni­tion and sustainable poli­ti­cal educa­tion based on young people’s volun­t­ary involvement.


foraus is Switzerland’s only parti­ci­pa­tive think tank on foreign policy. As a dyna­mic grass­roots commu­nity of young people, foraus shapes foreign policy, influen­ces the way policy is made, promo­tes new voices and makes them heard – both within Switz­er­land and inter­na­tio­nally. foraus stands for evidence-based and high-quality content with cons­truc­tive policy recom­men­da­ti­ons and thought-provo­king events.

‘Funding alli­ances’ network at

What happens if a new approach solves the problem at hand and a project needs to be scaled up? In this network, we deve­lop metho­do­lo­gi­cal prin­ci­ples and answers to the core ques­tion of follow-up financing.

Webi­nar: ‘Imple­men­ting funding alli­ances effec­tively’ 13 Febru­ary 2024, 4–5 pm

Funding alli­ances are beco­ming incre­asingly important as a foun­da­tion for sustainable initia­ti­ves. But how to imple­ment them successfully in prac­tice? In a webi­nar co-hosted by Con·Sense and StiftungSchweiz, we will delve into case studies and best prac­ti­ces, offer tangi­ble assis­tance and open up the space for a lively discussion.

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