Systemic challenges require systemic answers, but currently the dominant funding practices are ill-suited to support them. 

This is what a coalition of foundations and changemakers in Switzerland came together to tackle. In a one-year co-learning journey, they shared insights, best practices and began designing and testing prototypes that could shift funding practices in Switzerland towards supporting systemic solutions. 

As working groups, they produced a glossary and two creative and innovative tools for funders to encourage self-reflection on their funding practices which are now ready to be shared. These tools are intended to inform foundations’ work in Switzerland and abroad.  

Funding Systems Change Tools

The Funding Mechanisms Spiderweb is a visual exercise which helps foundations reflect on their funding mechanisms across 12 different dimensions of the funding cycle. Its main purpose is to make funders more aware of the choices behind existing or potential funding mechanisms, so they can better understand the implications of those choices, and support the exploration of new ideas by broadening the spectrum of options.  

The Systemic Mindset: 17 Guiding Questions for Funders is intended to help in the review of strategies and working methods of foundations already working on systemic impact. The questionnaire can be used when launching a strategic process or as a self-assessment exercise, at either the level of the foundation as a whole or of one of its programs. It is split into four categories that reflect different aspects of foundations’ work: vision and impact, partnerships and feedback, roles and positionality, and assessment and learning. It is available in English, German and French. 

The Funding Systems Change Glossary is a foundational resource which provides definitions and examples of some of the key concepts of funding systems change and in the philanthropic sector.