Now in post as EFA’s new president, Fundraising Europe interviews Gosse Bosma, Director of Goede Doelen Nederland, about the fundraising environment in the Netherlands and common challenges facing the sector across Europe.
[Fundraising Europe] 2016 has been a period of great change for fundraising across Europe. Can you tell us about your experiences of the current fundraising environment in the Netherlands and how things are changing?
[Gosse Bosma] In the Netherlands, more than 75% of all people donate to charities. ‘Doing good’ and social involvement are very much part of our society’s DNA. Yet this very society is changing immensely at a rapid pace.
The role of charitable organisations is increasing, but charities are certainly not the only ones ‘doing good’.
New kinds of social involvement have come in to being. People do not simply want to donate money anymore. The younger generation wants active involvement and experience. Philanthropists have their own foundations and initiate their own research. More and more social enterprises arise and corporations start their own foundations and initiatives.
Therefore, the market is growing, with growing potential for charities. However, this also means that more traditional nonprofit organisations must find new modes of operation and ways of connecting with the public. They must find ways of working in co-creation with other charities, with commercial partners and others. The greatest challenge for our sector in the near future is realising commitment: from donation to engagement.
How is the charity sector responding?
In this new dynamic, trust is of paramount importance. Self-regulation is very important and we have introduced a new qualification or validation system in the Netherlands: from now on there is only one standard so that the public can see immediately if an organisation meets all quality requirements and is managing its affairs properly. An independent supervisor (CBF) examines whether charities comply with this standard.
Do you think these issues are reflected in other parts of Europe?
The Netherlands is not the only country facing challenges for the near future. Every country has its own dynamic and its own changing history and this makes it even more important that we share our information and experiences. EFA has a key role to play in creating opportunities for fundraising nations and professionals to learn from each other.
Here in the Netherlands, for example, we are very curious about the developments in the UK, where a storm of indignation broke loose around fundraising practices, leading to a much more stringent regulation by the UK government.
I see it as a great challenge for EFA to make all this information, knowledge and experience available to all its members in a clear way. Among a range of common issues, we are all concerned about public trust and we can learn so much from each other around the different way that self-regulation has been adopted in different parts of Europe.
It can also be helpful to look at our relationship with government and how the state can stimulate civil society to donate to charity. Tax benefits, for example, can be very important, but there are many ways in which they can be established. Which work best and which do not?
During your presidency with EFA, what it is that you most want to achieve?
It is critical that we continue to provide opportunities for practitioners and trade bodies to learn from one another. We must also watch the European political agenda attentively. European legislation and regulations can determine the capacity of civil society and we have to work together to ensure that the European Union does not take unnecessary precautions that will impede philanthropy. EFA already has a powerful lobbying voice and I feel strongly that this is an area in which we can bring great value to the sector.
Gossa Bosma has a background is in political science. As director of Goede Doelen Nederland and president of EFA, he specialises in protecting the sector’s interest and encouraging and supporting the growth of philanthropy both at a national and European level.