Creating momentum

© Paul Lovis Wagner

Independent journalism helps to create public spheres in which pluralist opinion formation is possible. In the digital sphere, however, publics evolve and dissolve via networked technologies, which in turn structure them. For journalism, constant experimentation and adaptation has become an imperative. The challenges for the field include reaching audiences via infrastructures in progress, using platforms that are under the control of intermediaries, and exploring new ways of interacting in dynamic publics — all this while revising business models.

As independent civil society actors, foundations are in a unique position to help organizations that seek to do quality journalism to turn these challenges into opportunities and thus strengthen the scaffolding supporting our democracy.

Executive Summary: Non-Profit-Journalism in Germany

The executive summary “Non-Profit-Journalism in Germany” shows the potential of non-profit-journalism in the stated country; it displays how non-profit-journalism strengthens democracy and pictures what is needed to establish it in the media system. The summary is based on the German report “Wozu Non-Profit-Journalismus?“ that was co-initiated by the Rudolf Augstein Foundation and published 29 September 2020. Free download is now available.


© Phineo

What we promote

We are guided by the question of how we can best support the journalistic ecosystem in the digital age. We are therefore looking for projects and initiatives that can have a leverage effect.

In practice, this means that we are often involved in the early stages of:

  • Investing in journalism infrastructures,
  • Supporting projects that make smart use of networked technologies,
  • Promoting initiatives and projects that strengthen journalism as a whole.

We are primarily involved in three areas:


1. Investigative journalism

We support and fund structures that help journalists to uncover injustices and abuses of power. Many of our projects strengthen collaboration – across national borders and disciplines. Because a globalised, networked world also requires cooperation in the field of journalism.

2. Innovation

We make experiments possible – from testing new business models and methods to opening up new approaches to the field and involvement with the community.

3. Developing young talents

We award scholarships to young talents. Up-and-coming journalists should thus be able to concentrate fully on their training. We also support initiatives that promote greater diversity in editorial offices.

Deadlines and information for applications

There are no deadlines for project funding in the journalistic field. You can submit your application at any time. Here you can review which documents we will need. Please note that different deadlines and selection criteria apply to applications for a scholarship.

Typically, you will be informed by email no later than twelve weeks after submission of your application whether your project will be funded.

Funding criteria

Applications received will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Originality and relevance of the approach
  • Potential to make a structural difference
  • Sustainability of the method or (business) model
  • Expertise of the parties
  • Readiness for critical reflection, further development and communication of one’s own approach

What we don’t fund

  • The production of journalistic content
  • Research grants
  • Projects outside Europe

Journalistic scholarships

We award scholarships to talented students and doctoral candidates who are pursuing a career in journalism. This primarily involves financial support to cover training costs and living expenses. We also offer networking and training opportunities.

Deadlines and information for scholarship applications


There is one application deadline per year for the award of scholarships.

The current round of applications ends 1 October 2020.

You can submit your application for a scholarship at any time. This will automatically be assigned to the next submission deadline. Please note our information on applying for a journalistic scholarship.

The selection of scholarship recipients takes place in a two-stage process: in the first step, the application documents are checked. The most promising applicants will be invited for an in-person interview in Hamburg. The following criteria are decisive for an award of funding:

  • Journalistic talent
  • Intellectual and communicative abilities
  • Motivation and willingness to work hard
  • And additionally, for doctoral students: excellence in research and scholarship

Vanessa Wormer


The scholarship has enabled me to specialize and, after studying in the US, take a rather unusual path: from local editor to investigative data journalist.

Vanessa Wormer