Navigating the Maze of Tender Writing

Navigating the Maze of Tender Writing
A Journey of Creativity and Resilience

Edit Palinkas  /  June 13, 2024

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I dabble in tender writing. This craft is no walk in the park. I often hear complaints like, “I don’t have the nerves for this,” or “The platforms are just too confusing,” and “Why can’t I just ask for the money I actually need?” There are also frustrations about system crashes, the endless writing required, and the time constraints. But my all-time favorite gripe is, “You need to come up with an idea for this.”

Here’s the thing: if you need to invent an idea for a tender, you’re already on the wrong track. However, if you can come up with something that fits your activities, aligns with what you already do, or just needs a little push to get started, tenders can actually be a blessing. When you begin thinking about the project, you start seeing the whole process, visualizing the program, the reactions of the people involved, their nuances, their smiles. This is what fuels me when I’m putting together a tender concept and helps me push through all the tedious bits — the administration, the computer work, the endless typing, thinking, and calculating.

And yes, the systems do freeze, crash, and restart regularly. There have been countless times when I’ve perfectly articulated something only for it to vanish in an instant, with no way to reconstruct what happened — just the application portal’s homepage staring back at me. Looking back, these moments have their own charm.

Yesterday, there was the usual Hungarian cultural tender deadline. Eight tenders were waiting to be finalized, amidst other work, family obligations, and choir practice. But I powered through, as I always must, and now it’s just a matter of waiting for the results. This waiting is the hardest part for me; the results always seem to come late. Then, in the most unexpected moment, you find out whether your cherished idea will get a little nudge from above. Regardless of the outcome, there’s always a need for re-planning, whether it’s because you won or because you didn’t.

The best advice I can give to those asking why and how to write tenders is this: if you are creative enough, have ideas, work in a community that adapts to new projects and programs, and most importantly, have the capacity to write them yourself or hire someone to do it, then why not? As many of us see it, especially in the cultural sector — and this is true globally, as I learned at the Classical:NEXT conference — every bit of support counts. Let’s tap into national and European opportunities as much as we can.

That’s all for now on tender writing. I’m off to rest after yesterday’s deluge. Cheers!