The art of the good bid

A successful bid calls for a systematic approach, precise wording and thorough research to identify the right foundation.

What are the basic requi­re­ments when it comes to making a successful bid for foun­da­tion funding?

I would recom­mend that, before approa­ching a speci­fic foun­da­tion, every appli­cant carries out their own evalua­tion to estab­lish, firstly, that the project goals corre­spond with the foundation’s mission and a healthy budget is in place to part-fund the project them­sel­ves. Secondly, they should consider which part­ners in the foun­da­tion world would be a good fit for the project’s content and aspi­ra­ti­ons. Projects that incor­po­rate social rele­vance, sustaina­bi­lity and high quality will gene­rally be of inte­rest and will find it easier to get the funding they need.

What form should my bid take?

Formal crite­ria: the language used should be succinct and precise, and the layout should be simple and clearly struc­tu­red. The length will depend on the comple­xity of the project. The struc­tu­red bid must provide clear infor­ma­tion about the party submit­ting the request, their orga­ni­sa­tion and the project itself. Targets and target groups should be empha­sised, along with the project’s USPs. A good bid also requi­res a clear budget, a funding plan and speci­fic details of the sum you are reques­t­ing, with infor­ma­tion on the impact analy­sis that will follow comple­tion of the project. Writing a good bid is an art. The narra­tive style can have a tremen­dous influence on the success of the bid.

How do I find the right foun­da­tion for my project?

To find the right foun­da­tion, you first need to have a clear idea of your project, its geogra­phi­cal range, its scope and its inten­ded impact. For a small, local project, it may be enough to cont­act locally based foun­da­ti­ons and pursue a local objec­tive. It is advi­sa­ble to iden­tify a series of keywords that will enable you to tap into the full poten­tial of the available foun­da­ti­ons. You can carry out a targe­ted search using one of the two private Swiss data­ba­ses – request a search and/or consult the websites of profes­sio­nal orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and other portals that I discuss in my book Stif­tun­gen: Der Leit­fa­den für Antrag­stel­ler (Helbing Lich­ten­hahn Verlag, 2021).

What is the best way to estab­lish cont­act with a foundation?

Before you can begin submit­ting bids to foun­da­ti­ons, a syste­ma­tic buil­ding of trust and networ­king is requi­red. This means that while you are in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing the ideal foun­da­tion, it is often advi­sa­ble to consult the foundation’s website and then call to ask for details you may not have found, e.g. whether bids should be submit­ted by post or by email, whether there are dead­lines for submit­ting bids, etc. It is gene­rally cons­truc­tive to adhere to the foundation’s guide­lines when it comes to forms, dead­lines, proces­ses and requi­re­ments. Only once you have clari­fied all of the details and estab­lished the correct person to cont­act should you make offi­cial cont­act with the foun­da­tion and submit a bid.

Why is impact analy­sis and report­ing important to the foundation?

The foun­da­tion board has speci­fic obli­ga­ti­ons to the foun­der and the foun­da­tion regar­ding opti­mal fulfilm­ent of the foundation’s mission and the effi­ci­ent use of funding. The impact analy­sis enables the foun­da­tion board to assess the impact of a project and the outcome for civil society. To ensure that this is fair and docu­men­ted, the foun­da­tion will commu­ni­cate its KPIs or its bench­marks. Bidders should take heed of these requi­re­ments and report as objec­tively as possi­ble. This enables the foun­da­tion to adapt its work on an ongo­ing basis and intro­duce any neces­sary stra­tegy chan­ges that may be needed in order to achieve the foundation’s goals.

Foun­da­ti­ons: Der Leit­fa­den für Antrag­stel­ler, ISBN 978–3‑7190–4307‑0, Helbing Lich­ten­hahn Verlag (2021)

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