Charity boom

Edition 5 September 2017, by Sagar Harinarayan

Over the past two years, the Dutch economy has fl ourished. According to RaboResearch, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Netherlands was 2.1 in 2016 and expected to rise to 2.3 in 2017. These are stand-out fi gures in the entire Eurozone. The economic boost has been attributed to two main factors, namely home investment and household consumption. The housing scenario is not yet back to its peak, as it was before the 2009 recession. However it is heading the right way. As far as household consumption is concerned, the fi gures are very encouraging, with a large willingness to buy noted among consumers. The purchasing power of people has improved drastically, thus ameliorating the economy. This has provided other positive outcomes such as rise in exports and reduction in unemployment. You as the reader can afford a smile, since you are here at the right time.

Economy is something which every person cares about, and worries about. But if the economy is doing fine, then the person diverts all his/her attention to other important matters. One of the least discussed impacts of the booming economy is how it has revolutionized the operation of charitable organizations. According to Volkskrant, donations made to Dutch charities increased by a whopping 13% last year. The countries’ 13 most noble causes managed to raise 822 million euros via donations and bequests. These are such encouraging fi gures! Charitable contributions are indeed intricately linked with the country’s economy. A better economic situation in the country has led to more people wanting to alleviate others’ despair. This speaks volumes of the country’s residents, and each one of us must be proud. Gosse Bosma, who is a director at Goede Doelen Nederland said, “Support from society for charity is robust and deeply rooted in Dutch culture”.

There are numerous charitable organizations which are pursuing some amazing goals. Kankerfonds KWF is by far the biggest, with contributions going as high as 119 million euros. It has over 1600 departments, with individuals often organizing annual awareness campaigns such as ‘Ride for Roses’ and ‘Samenloop voor Hoop’. KWF itself does not conduct any research, but has active investments in around 400 research projects in various universities and institutions. The next big name is Oranjefonds. This is a unique initiative, which focuses on strengthening society. It supports activities to enable people to stay independent and encourage participation in various social events. For example, Oranjefonds helps maintain youth centers, enderly homes and rehabilitation shelters, to improve the overall state of society.

This year, Oranjefonds received a 51 million euros gift from a family trust. Hartstichting is another excellent organization, which raises money for treating cardiovascular diseases. Like KWF, Hartstichting also invests heavily in research and promotion of novel medical applications. Over 5000 volunteers come together for the ‘Hartweek’ annual collection in April. Additionally, Hartstichting also sponsors an international award for exceptional research in the fi eld. The KNRM lifeboat organization is another voluntary group, focussed on saving lives at sea. Currently, it maintains 39 lifeboat stations along the coast, which is very impressive. Of course there are many more organizations, 80% of which were successful in increasing their income last year. Look these up if you wish to support a cause, thus adopting this virtuous Dutch spirit of giving.

Based on the donors’ involvement in the cause, these organizations conduct recruitment. For instance, the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund has created a system wherein rich families can get their own identity after a donation. Perhaps with a donation of 50k euros or more, donors could be in a position to take over the charity. This will not only promote growth of the fund, but will stabilize the cash-fl ow. Almost all the aforementioned organizations conduct aggressive recruitment drives, to develop a sustainable system. Further, an effort is being made to enhance transparency and professionalism. Both the government and donors have put forth demands for registration of donations and subsidies. This is to prevent misuse of funds for the wrong reasons and to eliminate tax-evasion attempts by businesses.

One of the actions taken in 2014 encouraged every organization to develop a website, for the sake of authenticity and convenience. To promote professionalism, post-graduate training programmes have been introduced in Free University Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam, so that graduates can function as director of a charitable organization or at other relevant designations. Network Young Philanthropic Professionals (NYPP) is another such initiative.

The times are good and it is stories like these which show how good the world can be. I believe every individual, in whatever small way he/she can afford, should help the less fortunate and give back to society. The universe will then conspire to return the favour!