Let’s hear it for the Dutch!
- How the Netherlands is transforming fundraising practice by putting the donor at its heart. -
Having spent the best part of three days in Amsterdam last week working on De Toekomst van Fondsenwerving (the Future of Fundraising) I came back full of enthusiasm and optimism about that future and how Dutch fundraisers might actually lead the way in bringing to pass how fundraising has to change.
In his introduction Hans Broodman told the audience:
"This is why we are so happy you have come today in such large numbers. The goal is to change the culture of fundraising so donors are always at the centre of our thinking, where transactions are a consequence of the relationship and not the other way around. This is not something you can do alone. We need to do this together."
Hans is undeniably right. Spot on, in fact. But no easy task, of course. Yet I suspect Dutch fundraisers could just succeed, because the large turnout of fundraisers who came to central Amsterdam to listen to me last Thursday seemed so open, vigorous, energetic and passionate. I was really inspired, standing before a vast room chock-full of 180+ fundraisers all anxious not to see repeated in their society, in their land, the same problems that have so afflicted their opposite numbers across the Channel.
Despite the language difference (politely they all agreed to listen to me in English, a foreign language to them), there was no shortage of questions nor any lack of understanding or eager engagement. I got the impression that Dutch fundraisers fully grasp the need for change yet have an eager appetite for what needs to happen next. In fact, they’re saying, ‘Bring it on!’.
I was also hugely impressed on the following day to address a smaller but no less dedicated group of CEOs from top Dutch fundraising charities, who all accepted just as readily that fundraising has to change and made no sign that they were anything less than ready and willing to accept the challenge I issued to them, that they, as CEOs, should lead this transformation in their organisations so that the Dutch charitable sector could begin the transformation we all want to see.
I suspect that Dutch fundraisers may have some secret strengths that their UK counterparts have not yet accessed. It’ll be no surprise to me if this initiative in the Netherlands rapidly becomes a considerable success. Nor would it surprise me if this small, colourful, competent country was to show the rest of the world just what’s possible when a small group of determined, passionate people set out to be the big difference they want to see, at this time of great and complex challenge.
What happened last Thursday at the Amsterdam Central Library – De Toekomst van Fondsenwerving – was just a start, the progress of which I shall follow with interest and optimism. For sure, the prize is massive. If they do it right, I’d bet these people will succeed.
Why not? Their donors and the causes they all care so much about will be vastly the better for it.