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What we fund

In light of increasing social polarization, the existential crisis facing journalism and the ongoing expansion of so-called news deserts, we are committed to supporting independent journalism outlets that have viable business models, publish outstanding, trustworthy content and can sustainably finance themselves over the long term.

Strong democracies depend on everyone having access to reliable and credible information so they can actively participate in the public debate.

For this reason, we support organizations and projects whose work addresses shortcomings at the structural level or fills existing gaps in regional/local reporting or in national/supra-regional reporting.

A particular focus is on media organizations that report for target audiences that have thus far been underserved by the news media.

To be eligible for grants, media organizations – or subsidiaries of a foreign organizations – must be registered in either Germany, Austria or Switzerland. 

Moreover, their work must serve the common good. This means that revenues generated by the media organizations are primarily intended for the strengthening of journalism in general.

Applications for the Media Forward Fund are now open! We are looking forward to your applications.

Apply now

Who we fund

We have two funding categories: thematic funding and general funding

Thematic funding focuses on scientific, educational, cultural, environmental and climate journalism. Information on future calls for the thematic funding line will be published here.

Our general funding category focuses on regional/local and national/supra-regional media outlets:

Organizational funding

for small media organizations

Small media organizations, with the equivalent of up to 30 full-time employees (FTEs) in the overall organization may choose between organizational funding (»core funding«) or project funding. In this way, organizations are free to decide how best to use the grant.

Project funding

for small and larger media organizations

Large media organizations are eligible if their work serves the common good (»no shareholder journalism«) and can apply for project funding, with the requirement that 50 percent is co-financed from their proprietary resources.

In addition to our grants, we also offer grantees supplementary forms of support such as capacity building (»Funding PLUS«).

Actual needs will be identified jointly through regular exchange.

The Media Forward Fund currently cannot award grants for:

  • Public service media outlets 
  • Interest groups
  • Conferences and networking events
  • Studies, accompanying research, or individual research projects
  • Scholarships
  • Sole proprietorship or projects by individuals who are not part of an organization 
  • Organizations or projects that are still in the idea phase
  • Organizations or projects that merely provide an additional offer similar to many existing ones. Their work thus does not address any structural or content-related needs that only they would fill (Additionality)
  • Supplementary funding for an ongoing project
Overview of general funding
 Organizational funding (core funding)Project funding 
 Small media organizationLarge media organization
max. funding€400,000€200,000€200,000
Funding quota/50%
max. duration24 months
Funding roundsca. every 4 months
Overview eligible costs
 Organizational funding (core funding)Project funding 

Personnel costs

Wages that are neither paid out directly nor regularly, such as special payments, benefits in kind, bonuses, and other services as well as severance payments, are not eligible for funding.

 

Employees (full and part-time)Employees (full and part-time)
Office and administrative costs 
  • Office rent
  • Office material
  • General accounting
  • IT systems
  • Communication (e.g. telecommunications)
/

Travel and accommodation costs

Travel expenses are based on the Federal Travel Expenses Act and the overview of accommodation allowances 2023/2024 abroad of the Federal Ministry of Finance

  • Travel by public transport and airplane
  • Car rental 
  • Accommodation costs

max. 10% of the requested funding amount

  • Travel by public transport and airplane
  • Car rental 
  • Accommodation costs
Costs for services 
  • Freelancer
  • Costs for consulting, professional qualifications
  • Costs for education and training
  • Participation in events (e.g. participation fees)
  • Studies or surveys (e.g. assessments, strategies, concept papers, planning concepts, manuals)
  • Designing, modifying and updating of IT systems and websites

 

  • Legal advice and notarial services, technical and financial expertise
  • Auditing services

 

  • Services in connection with the organization and hosting of events or meetings (including rent, catering and interpreting services)
  • Translation
  • Freelancer
  • Costs for consultung, professional qualifications
  • Costs for education and training
  • Participation in events (e.g. participation fees)
  • Studies or surveys (e.g. assessments, strategies, concept papers, planning concepts, manuals)
  • Designing, modifying and updating of IT systems and websites

 

  • Services in connection with the organization and hosting of events or meetings (including rent, catering and interpreting services)
  • Translation
Costs for the purchase of technical equipment and machinery, particularly capitalizable investments in tangible fixed assets
  • Office equipment
  • IT hardware and software
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Machinery and instruments
/
General funding call timeline 2024
Selection process Provisional timeframe (changes possible)
Brief introductionJuly 2  - September 6, 2024
Assessment of eligibility and decision on invitation to initial interview
Information Sessions (digital)

July 30, 2024: 12:30-2:00 p.m. (German)

August 27, 2024: 12:30-2:00 p.m. (English)

Initial interviews Ongoing until September 13, 2024
Assessment of eligibility and decision on admission for application drafting

Application drafting

(within max. 5 weeks)

Ongoing until October 4, 2024
Finalization of due diligence & pitch deck designOctober 21 - November 8, 2024
Jury pitchNovember 26 and 27, 2024
Funding decisions announcedFirst week of December, 2024

Information Sessions

With each call for applications, we organize two digital Information Sessions (one in German, one in English) with a duration of approx. 60 to 90 minutes. The purpose of the Information Sessions is to present the Media Forward Fund and its selection process in more detail. Questions can be submitted in advance when registering or asked live during the event. Registrations are open now.

July 30, 2024: 12:30-2:00 p.m. (in German)

Register now

August 27, 2024: 12:30-2:00 p.m. (in English)

Register now

How we choose

The selection process focuses on three areas: your journalistic work, your organization and your idea for using the grant. The following five overarching criteria are key to the assessment. 

Transformation
  • We fund media organizations and projects that both serve the common good and can sustainably strengthen the media landscape and journalism’s role in our society.
  • We believe that the sustainability of journalism is also dependent on more efficient newsroom workflows, interaction with users, the integration of new approaches and the courage to adopt new business models.

This is why one of the criteria we examine is the potential for transformation through our grant. We look at whether there is a potentially viable and sustainable business model and an opportunity for scaling. We examine the relationship between costs and the expected impact in the funding application in addition to whether the changes, once initiated, can be sustained beyond the funding period.

User focus
  • We fund media organizations and projects that report for (local) communities, enable participation in (political) decision-making and advocate for pluralistic societies and liberal democracies. 
  • Media that aim to meet the information needs of the general public or specific audiences must be trustworthy.

This is why we take a close look at the degree to which an organization focuses on its users and whether it has assessed the needs of its target audience. 
 

Diversity
  • We are particularly interested in funding media organizations and projects that report for underserved communities to ensure that journalism better serves all groups of society in the future – especially those groups that have thus far been underserved.

This is why we look at whether structural gaps or gaps in regional/local or national/supra-regional reporting are addressed. We assess the accessibility of reporting, especially for underserved communities, and the degree to which these target groups are represented on the staffs of the organizations applying. 

Independence
  • We fund media organizations and projects to ensure that they are able to report critically and independently even in times of crises – and also independently of our funding. We never interfere in the reporting of the media organizations and projects we fund. Freedom of the press, as one of the cornerstones of liberal democracy, is crucial for our work. 

This is why we examine the clear structural and personnel division between the newsroom and organization management, the clear division between editorial and ad sales, and crisis resistance through long-term, sustainable financial planning.

Quality
  • We fund media organizations and projects that base their work on recognized journalistic standards. At the heart of quality journalism are principles such as truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, transparency and independence.

This is why we look at the organization’s commitment to the principles of the German Press Code (Pressekodex), the existence of established editorial standards and institutionalized mechanisms to monitor compliance with those standards; professional and journalistic competence within the organization’s team; and the disclosure of finances.

Note on large media organizations:

For media organizations with the equivalent of more than 30 full-time employees (FTEs) in the overall organization, eligibility is also subject to the following additional criteria: 

  1. Average share of daily content published by overall organization made up by proprietary content (excluding copy from news agencies and mainly AI-generated content, for example) must be over 70 percent.
  2. Share of total digital revenue of the overall organization made up by regularly recurring payments from users (excluding e-paper in case of print publishers) must be over 30 percent

Selection process

Brief Introduction 

By completing the online form, you confirm that you meet our basic eligibility criteria and you provide a brief overview of your organization and how you intend to use the funding.

Please note that, for technical reasons, the link to the brief introduction can only be used once and your answers to the questions cannot be cached. 

Preview brief introduction 

Initial Interview 

Should you be eligible for funding and should your intention fit with our funding objectives, we would like to get to know you better by way of a telephone/video call of approx. 30 minutes. No additional preparation is required for the interview.

Preview initial interview questions 

Funding Application 

Once you have successfully demonstrated in the initial interview that you meet our five overarching selection criteria, you will be invited to draft your funding application. You have a maximum of five weeks to complete the application and at least three weeks should you be applying late in the application period.

Preview application form project funding

Preview application form organizational funding

Due Diligence & Pitch Deck

After a comprehensive review of all applications, we will continue the due diligence process with the most promising candidates and will support those candidates in designing a pitch deck for their appearance in front of the jury.

Pitch to the Jury 

As last step, you will present your request to the jury in the form of an in-person pitch lasting 30 to 40 minutes. Your travel expenses to Berlin will be covered.

Afterwards, you will be notified of the jury's decision.

Should you not be chosen for funding, you will have the opportunity to receive detailed feedback. 


Application guidelines

Availability and feedback

If you have any questions about the application and selection process, we will be happy to address them during our weekly Q&A hour. However, please check in advance whether your question is already answered in the FAQs. Bookings for call slots are expected to be possible from the week of July 15.

We are a relatively new organization and are eager to learn from our applicants and grantees. Should you have any feedback pertaining to our website, our application and selection process or the collaboration process, you are welcome to leave an anonymous message here.