Ideas and Issues International

Stuttgart I have found it fascinating to understand the fundraising mechanisms in The Netherlands and Germany, at least at the rudimentary level that I can follow. The operations that are growing larger, regardless of the question of government or corporate partnerships and funds are mining institutional brands and long settled systems.

Brut fur die Welt (Bread for the World) in Stuttgart is a good example. 50 years ago (next year in 2008) the protestants decided to do one collection on Christmas Eve, which is the big church attendance event in an increasingly inactive church membership. They did well on that first outing. Some 12 million deutschmarks were raised in a time when that was a lot of money. The tradition continues and almost all protestant churches in Germany dedicate 100% of their Christmas Eve collection to Bread for the World. 25 million Euro of the 50 million they raise is on that one shot. The rest is hard work from bake sales to direct mail, but little in the way of the “new” stuff with the internet or advertising.

The World Wildlife Federation of Germany seems to specialize on the advertising system. Their billboards and signs were in train stations at the Frankfurt Airport and in Stuttgart. The appeal is for animal survival in the face of climate change. Interestingly, they push a 3 Euro per month donation in all of their advertising.

Maybe I have been traveling in the wrong places, but tying the contribution to a fixed number between 2 and 3 Euros seems the established system at least in Germany. 3 Euros are plastered on the WWF signs, but they also show up in the Misereor appeals. Looking at an average contribution of 36 Euros — about $50 USD — would seem to be the common target of fundraising on the continent.

The Dutch government requirement that their big foundations needed to demonstrate more mass public support has them scrambling as we discussed earlier. Some of the German charities were less than supportive and much more frank in discussing their concerns with the new Dutch governmental initiatives and its impact on some of their partnerships and co-financing projects. They seemed to hint that the government was promoting connections that advanced the interests of Dutch companies as well, which was perhaps what was being communicated to me by the ABN-AMRO team.

The X Minus Y Solidarity Fund was an interesting organization in Amsterdam. They seem to have been a rump, spin-off group from NOVID, the giant secular foundation that is now a part of Oxfam. From its reputation NOVID is no wilting flower in terms of its grant-making footprint (and I’m looking forward to meeting them in the Haag this trip), but the break came from the issue of accepting government funds. X-Y continues to operate from an individual contributor list that dates back to that rupture which I believe may have been 30 years ago in the 70’s. Unfortunately, the base is getting older and the fundraising is not increasing rapidly enough among new donors, so X-Y does exciting grant making but only have 300-400,000 Euros in the pot.

I wish I knew more about all of this, because it’s fascinating and has something to say and to teach us (and perhaps we them as well?) but it’s an intricate puzzle and we are just learning to play.

X Minus Y Solidarity Fund
The Misereor appeal for 2 euros
Other fundraising appeals