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)