The ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius provides funding primarily for its own initiatives. The foundation also welcomes applications for funding provided that the proposed projects conform to its statutes and aims. The key criteria for approval are the innovative potential and sustainability of the project as well as collaborative efforts to create synergies - ideally across national boundaries, and the originality of the proposal.

The foundation attaches great importance to the investment made by the applicant and to his endeavours to find other partners. No funding is granted to cover budgetary deficits.

Depending on the size of the grant application, the funding decision is made by the board of directors or the board of trustees. In some cases, specialist consultants may be invited to evaluate the grant application.