Application guidelines

The primary goal of the selection process is to understand the current direction of your organization and what contribution our organizational or project funding could make to strengthening the impact of your journalistic work, your economic sustainability and/or your operational resilience in the long term.

The purpose of our funding, after all, is to support you in taking the next step and not to fund the continuation of business-as-usual.

For this reason, the selection process is focused on the overall impression of your journalistic work, your organization and your idea for using the grant. The assessment is based on our five overarching selection criteria. We therefore recommend using these criteria as a guide when designing and drafting your application.

Please also make sure that your descriptions and financial presentations are sufficiently detailed, precise, concrete and coherent. 

Financial information can be provided in either euros or Swiss francs. The total amount of funding requested, however, should be stated in euros at the respective positions. 

Brief Introduction

In the brief introduction, you confirm your eligibility by way of five requirements, briefly introduce your organization and target audience, provide quantitative information on the size of your organization and the reach of your work, and briefly explain your idea for using the grant. We are particularly interested in learning: 

  1. how you want to use the grant and what contribution you think it will make to strengthening the impact of your journalistic work, your economic sustainability and/or your operational resilience in the long term;
  2. what need you intend to fill with your work or project that no one else but you are addressing;
  3. and to what extent your work or project particularly addresses audiences that have had little access to journalism to date. 

Furthermore, we would also like to know how much funding you will need and for how long.

The aim of the brief introduction is to determine your eligibility and organization size based on the information provided and to gain a first impression of your organization, your journalistic work and your idea for using the grant. For this reason, most of the questions are single-choice questions. The number of characters for open answers is limited, as the focus should be on the essential information and therefore short, concise answers are initially sufficient. 

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. So please prepare your answers in advance based on the brief introduction preview and then copy them into the form in one sitting before you then submit the form. 

Preview brief introduction 

Please also note the distinction in the brief introduction between the overall organization and the sub-unit submitting the application. By overall organization, the superordinate organization is meant (e.g. corporation, project owner, subsidiary organization) within which the applying sub-unit (e.g. newsroom, news portal) is organized. This distinction will mainly apply to large media organizations. In the case of smaller media organizations, we expect that the overall organization and the applying sub-unit will often be identical entities. You will find a respective note where the distinction in the brief introduction is relevant.

Funding Application

Once your eligibility for funding has been established by the information provided in the brief introduction and during the initial interview, you will be permitted to submit your funding application according to the funding type assigned to you (organizational or project funding).

The initial interview, as an intermediate step between the brief introduction and the funding application, is intended to ensure that only organizations or projects with a real chance of success for funding invest time and effort into the application.

Eligible organizations will receive a registration link from us by e-mail, which they can use to register and access the relevant application form. The upload function for the required attachments can also be found at the end of the form.

The aim of your funding application is to provide us with a comprehensive picture of your organization, your journalistic work and your idea for using the grant. The structure of the application form thus reflects those three areas. Based on a set of 17 – 18 questions, we want to learn more about your long-term goals, your team, your target audience and your interactions with them, as well as about your business model. We want to understand for what purpose you intend to use the funding and how this can contribute to your long-term strategy in terms of strengthening the impact of your journalism, your economic sustainability and/or your operational resilience in the long term.  

For some of the questions, your answers are automatically taken from the brief introduction and can be revised or expanded if necessary. We have set guidelines for the number of characters per response. However, there is no default character limit so that you do not need to shorten sentences. Nevertheless, we recommend sticking to the suggested character maximum as orientation. Designated questions can also be answered in bullet points.

Preview application form project funding

Preview application form organizational funding

Timeline

Your funding application must also include a timeline in tabular form (e.g. in Excel) based on clearly defined milestones (15-20 milestones) that are suitable for implementing your planned objectives within the funding period. The timeline is intended to help us assess the feasibility of your plans for using the grant. 

Milestones should be seen as results-oriented sets of steps that lead to one or more verifiable partial result(s) (milestones). We suggest assigning each milestone a title, a deadline (e.g. month or quarter of a year), a description and a possible proof for of fulfillment. Milestones can also be structured according to categories (e.g. recruiting, increasing reach, strategic planning, training, expert consultation, etc.).

Throughout the course of the funding period, milestones will serve as a plan for implementation and moments of joint reflection on the achievements of your objectives. Please ensure that the milestones reflect your goals in terms of strengthening the impact of your journalistic work, your economic sustainability and/or your operational resilience in the long term.

Sample milestone timeline

Financial planning (in euros or Swiss francs)

Your funding application must also include an expense and financial plan (project funding) or a financial model for the next three years (organizational funding), denoted in euros or Swiss francs. The main purpose of the financial planning is to allow us to assess the relationship between costs and the expected impact, to verify whether you have the necessary proprietary resources (project funding for large media) and to understand what difference the grant can make to your organization.

Financial model for the next three years (organizational funding)

The detailed financial model for your planned expense and revenue development over the next three years (denoted in euros or Swiss francs) should be drafted in tabular form (Excel). Eligible expenses based on receiving the grant should also be included. 

The forecast should clearly demonstrate what difference the grant will make in terms of enabling your organization to generate (additional) revenue. If necessary, several scenarios (max. three) can be submitted within the same Excel sheet. Further explanations can be added in form of notes below the tables.

With regard to expenses, please differentiate between the various types of expenses e.g. personnel costs, office and administrative expenses, costs for services, etc. All (eligible) expenses are understood to include any VAT and must be documented through invoices, receipts, travel expense reports, etc. 

Sample financial model

Eligible costs organizational 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)
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
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
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

Expense and financial plan (project funding)

In the case of large media organizations, we co-finance projects on a 50:50 basis, which means that proprietary resources are required. 

The detailed expense and financial plan should be drafted in tabular form (Excel) and reflect all expenses for your project.

Please differentiate between the various types of expenses e.g. personnel costs, travel and accommodation expenses, costs for services. If you are a large media organization, please also list your proprietary resources (cash, infrastructure) in addition to any planned project and other revenue sources.

All (eligible) expenses are understood to include any VAT and must be documented through invoices, receipts, travel expense reports, etc. 

Sample expense and financial plan

Eligible costs 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)
Office and administrative costs /

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

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
  • 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/

Attachments

The following attachments must be uploaded along with your application: 

  • Traffic and audience marketing plan for the current year
  • Current year operating budget (personnel and material costs, revenues) of the next higher-level business unit within which the applying sub-unit (e.g. newsroom, news portal) is organized (in euros or Swiss francs)
  • Annual financial statement or preliminary financial statement of preceding fiscal year relevant to the grant project (in euros or Swiss francs)
  • Latest annual report relevant to the grant project 
  • Extract from the register of associations or commercial register incl. list of shareholders 
  • Editorial code of conduct (optional)
  • Strategic plan or business plan (optional)
  • Evaluation report(s) (optional)
Due Diligence

The due diligence process is integrated in the entire selection process and is finalized after we have reviewed and assessed your funding application.

The assessment is based on the information you have provided, desk research, internal documents you have submitted (attachments to the funding application) and one or two reference interviews, which we will conduct following the review of your application. In your funding application, you are asked to provide two references who will be willing to provide detailed and candid feedback on your work and your organization.

Should we determine that the internal documents submitted with your funding application are insufficient, we will request additional information in a timely manner. 

Once due diligence has been completed, results will be summarized in a two-page PowerPoint report, which will further inform the jury's decision, along with the Media Forward Fund team's funding recommendation and your pitch.

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.