Attracting foundations as supporters

Fundamentals for funding by foundations

There are various ways of having your own organization or project funded. Foundations are one of them. Each funding option has its own characteristics and you need to select the funding model that is right for your project.

To find out whether a foundation grant is suitable for your concern, have a look at our tips:

Step by step from the idea to a successful application for funding at foundations: Here you will learn how to successfully communicate your project to potential funding agencies, how to identify the right funding agency and how to write a promising funding application.

How do I find the right foundation?

Before looking for the right foundation, you should be clear about the profile of your organization.

  • What is special about your organization?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What did you already achieved? Is there e.g. other projects that you have already carried out successfully?
  • Did you already worked successfully with other foundations?
  • Have you been recognized for your work?
  • What is your vision?
  • What are your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve?

If you have difficulties filling out this list, then take a look at Module 1. There are practical tools for you to sharpen your own organizational profile.

Your project idea should also be mature:

  • Who is your target group?
  • What do you want to do with what effect?
  • How is your schedule?
  • What other offers are there and what is special about your project?
  • Which gap in demand does it fill?
  • What are the costs of the project?
  • Who will you be working with?
  • How can the project be sustainably financed?

Take a look at our template for a project sketch. Can you answer all questions clearly?

When you have finished the preparations you can start looking for foundations.

The foundation has not published all the necessary information? After extensive research (website, annual reports, projects funded in the past) you still have questions?

Most foundations have direct contact persons for funding applications who are happy to help with any questions. Advantage: you show commitment, get additional information, can express your enthusiasm for your project again, understand the values ​​of the foundation and, if necessary, the special features of the funding program.

Before you call you should of course have studied the foundation's website carefully and be well informed. Questions that could be answered by looking at the foundation's website are more a sign that you have not tried to get to know the foundation as a possible new partner.

Documentation of the research is an aid in the research of foundations. Even if it seems time-consuming at first, it will save you a lot of nerves in the future if you document your research from the beginning. Name of the foundation, website, contact person, funding focus, possible deadline, notes on how you were in contact with them.

When researching, one often comes across foundations that may not have any current call for applications, but later in the year. So you already have them on your list. Some foundations put out new funding programs on a regular basis. It is worthwhile to e.g. subscribe to the newsletter to be informed about the next call for applications.

How do I submit a funding application?

Have you found the right foundation for your project? Now the question is: How do I best communicate my project?

An important keyword in this context is: “Change of perspective”. Especially when communicating with potential sponsors and supporters, it is important to put yourself in the perspective of the addressee.

  • What information would you need if you were a foundation / a company / a neighbor?
  • What would be important criteria for you to support the project financially / non-financially?
  • How do you want to be addressed? What is moving you and what do you wish for?

Before you start writing a funding application, take a look at how an application is structured and what you should pay attention to:

A well thought-out financial plan belongs in every successful funding application. Use our template to create a financial plan for your project:

How do I formulate a funding application?

Everything is prepared so far! Now it’s time to formulate the funding application. There are a few things to consider here in order to put the extensive and complex information, which is usually the basis of a project, on paper in a simple and understandable manner.

More tips for writing funding applications:

Evaluation criteria

There are many great project ideas, but of course yours is a very special one! So that funding agencies can honor this, make sure that you always keep the following possible evaluation criteria in mind during the application process and check them again before submitting the application:

  • Have the formal criteria been met?
  • Are the goals specific, realistic and fit with the project activities?
  • Is the concept conclusive?
  • Is the budget plan comprehensible based on the project description?
  • Does the project stand out from others?
  • What are the applicant’s motivation / competence and experience?

Rejected - what now? - Success - and then?

Rejected – what now?

Project application rejected? Do not give up! These questions to the sponsor will help you to do better next time!

  • Do you have any tips on how we could improve our project?
  • Would it be possible to apply to you again with this or another project in the field?
  • Can you give us a recommendation on a foundation that could fit our project idea? Would it make sense to apply to xy?

Accepted and then?

The collaboration with the foundation begins when the funding contract is signed. The expectations of the foundations in cooperation can vary. In any case, you should inform your new partner about the progress of the project, even if something changes or did not work as originally planned. You should invite the foundation to important events and involve them in your public relations, i.e. you provide the foundation with photos, texts, news from your project or similar. which can be disseminated through the Foundation’s channels.

Good contacts and satisfied partners are an important resource for your next funding efforts.

Done! You have worked on all topics from Module 3.


All right? Test your knowledge and your progress