Financni Menedzment Ii Okm Junij2020

Strategies and Tactics of Fundraising through Tenders

Within a training series entitled »Beyond the Cultural Model«, Motovila Institute invited representatives of various (inter)national funding programmes to join an on-line discussion moderated by Urška Jež, an experienced producer in culture, to shed light on various issues related to fundraising through tenders. The webinar was organised on 15 June 2020, when the negative economic consequences for the cultural and creative sectors due to the COVID-19 crisis were already evident. Having in mind the impact that the current situation would have on the business success (or survival!) of this sector, we wanted to highlight all the more necessary skills and knowledge required to create a sustainable business model.

The webinar was focusing on the funding mechanism most cultural organizations are very familiar with. Namely, the largest share of financial sources needed to carry out their mission is obtained through local, national and international tenders published by public and private funders. Nevertheless, we only seldom have time to reflect more strategically on this mechanism. The event offered a platform for an exchange and reflection with representatives of four grant-giving institutions, both public and private, from across Europe that are perhaps less often on the map of Slovenian applicants.

We were talking with Dea Vidović, Director of Kultura Nova Foundation (HR), Michal Pavlík, Public Relations Manager at the Visegrad Fund (SK), Philipp Dietachmair, Head of Programmes at the European Cultural Foundation (NL), and Veronika Vodlan, from CNVOS, implementing the Active Citizens Fund in Slovenia (SI). The panellists agreed that this discussion was also a valuable opportunity for the grant-giving institutions to meet and exchange on their approach in designing and developing their funding mechanisms, especially in relation to the challenges due to the recent pandemic, its long-lasting impacts and the role of the governments in enforcing the cultural sector.

See full conversation!

After a short round of presentations, the conversation has evolved around three topics:

Initially we were discussing how funders translate their aims and mission into a funding scheme, and how they gather relevant data about the actual sector’s needs. In general, they all involve experts who are well familiar with the field and have often worked several years in or with cultural institutions. Usually funding programs are built around an issue they wish to address or an identified gap they believe should be filled, and offer support for activities that organizations cannot fund from other sources. By targeting the area they have detected as problematic, their mission is defined which provides one of the reasons why applications are rejected – because they feel there is another fund available they see more suitable for the project or program proposed (e.g. at the ECF they often see resubmissions of Creative Europe projects).

While due to the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic the discussion drifted several times towards practical aspects, the second round focused more on a conceptual level. The panellists were unanimous that any definite conclusions would be difficult because of the unfamiliarity and ambiguity of the current situation. Dea Vidović for one was sceptical about the paradigmatic shift resulting from the crisis, and the involvement of the governments in the recovery of the cultural sector. Ideologically speaking values such as equality, diversity, climate and environment protection, intersectionality on the level of society might be just buzzwords of the moment, which might not be followed by concrete measures of the governments. The cultural sector became more visible and perhaps we can use this situation to do something different, she stressed. The project based logic governing this sector, has caused several systemic problems for the sector and perhaps now is the moment to re-think and initiate some systemic changes.

On the practical level, the funders are adapting by channelling the resources available towards issues they detect as those needing extra support due to the lack of systemic solutions. Focusing on advocacy skills, solidarity, dealing with new vulnerable groups, and also the cultural sector taking over the role of other sectors such as education and social care – not necessarily only as a result of pandemic – have been mentioned. Recently, larger numbers of applications are coming in, but recycling existing project proposals in response to new funding opportunities was criticized by our guests, expressing at the same time a complete understanding of the motives and reasons of the applicants.

In the last round, we have asked our guests to give some practical advice to their potential applicants on how to master the tactics of developing a project proposal:
  • Realism and honesty were underlined by Philipp Dietachmair. Realism in terms of what can be done within a defined timeframe and with foreseen resources. The evaluators are experts with years of practical experiences, well equipped to judge what is realistic, feasible and logical. Budget tells a story only in relation to the written part. If a specific cost is relevant for the project, be honest about it and argue it well in the written part of the proposal. There is no right or wrong way of structuring the budget as long as it is consistent with the story of the project. Adding some activity to the regular work of the organization to make it look as your application fits to the call is usually a good guarantee to fail and most of the times such one-of projects are just an exhaustion for the organization as was outlined by Veronika Vodlan.
  • Michal Pavlík reminded us to think about innovation in terms of spreading geographically within and beyond the state borders, involving new partners and addressing new target groups when it comes to securing sustainability to long-term, recurrent and ongoing projects such as festivals.
  • The importance of partnerships in building a stronger network of resources, perspectives, reach and impact was also mentioned. Together we can do more and better, but it is crucial to know who you are partnering up with, so one of the beneficial tactics would be to first fundraise for a small pilot exchange or project to confirm compatibility with other partners.

Instead of a conclusion, we would like to remind you not to skip any of the future opportunities enabled by the funding institutions we hosted! These might be useful for your organisation directly or when you plan to cooperate within an international partnership consortium:

  • European Cultural Foundation – Culture of Solidarity Fund: Organizations from all over the world are eligible to apply. The second call just closed on 14 July 2020, but we expect additional calls in the future.
  • Visegrad Funds: Applications can be submitted 3 times per year, with deadlines always on 1 February, 1 June and 1 October. Also Slovenian organizations (or organisations form other non-Visegrad countries) can apply if involved in a consortium with at least 3 partners from different Visegrad countries.
  • Kultura Nova Foundation: Slovenian organizations can join as a partner to an applicant from Croatia. Foreseen call in December 2020 for next year.
Do not forget to first check what kind of projects have been selected in the previous rounds or e.g. what was the average project budget and scope, before you start developing your own proposal!

Report written by the moderator Urška Jež.

The training series Beyond Cultural Model is organized by the Motovila Institute as part of the activities of the Centre for Creativity Platform Partner Network. The project is co-financed by the EU (from the European Regional Development Fund) and the Republic of Slovenia. The webinar Financial Management – Strategies and Tactics of Fundraising through Tenders is co-financed by the Municipality of Ljubljana.

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